Georgia: A Gently Fermenting Revolution – Women in the Georgian Wine Business

Private Sector Development and Vocational Education and Training in South Caucasus

1. Context

Georgia is one of the oldest winemaking countries in the world. Viticulture and viniculture, have a long tradition dating back over 8000 years. In today’s time, the production of grapes, winemaking, as well as wine tourism play an increasingly significant role contributing to employment and income genera-tion in Georgia, especially in rural communities. Thus, viticulture and winemaking are not just an inte-gral part of the Georgian identity and culture, but also driver of recent the socio-economic develop-ments of the country.
The Georgian wine sector is dominated by men since many centuries. Though winemaking has always been a family-based activity in which women and men alike were engaged, men were and are pre-dominantly present in decision-making positions in their families and in running Georgian wine busi-nesses, thus representing the Georgian wine culture and identity not gender-balanced.
However, in very recent years also Georgian women have started to make wine independently, carving out a credible niche in the sector. In 2018, several female pioneers in this field founded the Association of Georgian Women Winemakers with the aim of promoting women winemakers, exchanging knowledge and experience and ensuring the performance of Georgian women winemakers at local and international level. The association has currently over 100 members with various professions in the wine industry such as wine growers, wine producers, oenologists, sommeliers, restaurant owners, journalists etc.

The Georgian country component of the regional GIZ programme Private Sector Development and Vo-cational Education and Training in South Caucasus (PSD TVET SC) actively supports the wine sector since 2017. The past main activities covered a wide range of capacity development measures as well as the introduction of a new dual vocational education programme in viticulture and winemaking. A decidedly gender-oriented promotion of the wine sector was not yet associated with these measures.
This changed from 2019, when the Georgian country component of the GIZ PSD TVET SC began to promote the potential of women in the wine sector together with the Association of Georgian Women Winemakers in a targeted manner, both from a thematic point of view but also through integration of women winemakers into cooperation networks. This inspired us to initiate a project for female wine-makers.

2. The Project – Woman in the Georgian Wine Business

The project mainly focuses on four implementation areas:
1. Enhancing the visibility of Georgian Women Winemakers
2. Establishing cooperation networks with Georgian and German partner organizations
3. Capacity Development of Association Members
4. Continuous promotion of women winemakers and their products

2.1 Enhancing the visibility of Georgian Women Winemakers

In early 2019, the beautifully designed book “A gently fermenting rev-olution – Women in the Georgian Wine Business” was published with the support of GIZ PSD TVET. It provides stories of 22 hard-working and committed women winemakers who are members of the Associ-ation of Georgian Women Winemakers.
The publication was presented in May 2019 during the GIZ-sup-ported event ‘’Women in the Georgian Wine Business’’ that was or-ganized and hosted by the National Wine Agency. The event brought together 50 leading women from the wine sector and academia to deliberate on the importance and relevance of economic empower-ment of women for the wine sector. The GIZ PSD TVET could win the spouse of the German ambassador in Georgia for the patronage of this event which allowed for greater media attention and visibility of the strong support, Germany provides through GIZ in this field.

The publication in particular proved to be an excellent medium for making the women of the Georgian wine industry visible in a variety of ways. The book is in great demand: the German Embassy regularly hands it over as a gift to high-ranking guests from Germany. But in Georgia too, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Georgian tourism agency and the agency for export promotion use this publication at var-ious events to present the socio-economic potential of women in the wine industry. The book will certainly in-spire many more young girls and women to look to the wine sector as an expressive avenue for their creativity and a source of secure livelihood for their future and of economic prosperity for Georgia.
As an important result from this event, a Georgian Women Entrepreneur Advocacy Group was intro-duced that is committed to network and connect with leaders and decision makers for the sake of promoting and enhancing women’s economic empowerment in Georgia.

In October 2019, the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and his spouse Elke Büdenbender, visited Georgia. With the Associa-tion of Georgian Women Winemakers having al-ready gained a great level of attention, interest and support, Ms. Elke Büdenbender also met with the woman winemakers. Ms. Elke Büden-bender was introduced the activities within the cooperation between GIZ PSD TVET and Association of Georgian Women Winemakers. Ms. Büden-bender and woman winemakers discussed relevant topics such as role of woman in wine sector, en-trepreneurial vision at family wineries, inspiration for new generation, role of small and medium en-terprises in rural development and others, based on their personal stories and experience.

Ms. Elke Büdenbender has greatly encouraged women winemakers in their endeavors and emphasized the importance of the participation of women respectively the association in public-private dialogues to represent and lobby their interests, as it has been proven in Germany for decades.

2.2 Establishing cooperation networks with Georgian and German partner organizations

While visibility is an important element to increase interest and attention for women in the Georgian wine industry, the GIZ PSD TVET is also particularly concerned with the promotion of cooperation net-works. Besides supporting the Association of Georgian Women Winemakers in terms of cooperation with local public institutions such as National Wine Agency and Wine Laboratory, the GIZ also supports the establishment of cooperation with German counterparts.
Since the event “Women in the Georgian Wine Business” in May 2019, a close partnership with the German Association “Vinissima – Women & Wine” is built. Vinissima is the first and oldest (founding year 1991) German association of that kind. The long-term and comprehensive experience of Vinissima reflects a broad knowledge from different points of view, which makes it exciting, to exchange ideas and network between Georgian and German Woman Winemakers.

With the support of GIZ PSD TVET, in October 2019, the Association of Georgian Women Wine-makers visited Vinissima in Germany for the first time. The mission pursued several objectives such as sharing experiences, participating in the presentation of the Georgian wines at Wein-campus Neustadt, discussing and setting priori-ties for further cooperation. As the result of the mission, the associations agreed to further coop-erate and, more concretely, to establish “Geor-gian-German Sister Wineries” in order to provide direct mentoring from members of Vinissima to members of the Georgian Women in Wine Association. Already in early 2020, Vinissima is going to visit the Association of Georgian Women Winemakers for further strengthening of their cooperation.
A further tangible result of the mission was the decision of Georgian association regarding raising membership fee and hiring a manager, which is an absolute pre-condition for efficiency and sustain-ability of association based on the long-standing experience of Vinissima.

2.3 Capacity Development of Association members

Within the frame of cooperation between GIZ PSD TVET and Association of Georgian Women Winemakers, needs for capacity development of association members have been identified, based on which various trainings and coaching sessions have been provided on topics like wine defects, food safety in wine sector, etc. Further measures for capacity development of association members are under development.

2.4 Continuous promotion of women winemakers and their products

Participation in Wine Fairs
On 17th of October 2019, Georgian wine day „Georgian wines 8000 years history “ took place in Neu-stadt, Germany, where Georgian women winemakers presented their wines for members of Vinissima.
With the support of GIZ, two members of the association will present their wines at the Green Week in January 2020.

3. Cooperation to achieve project objectives

In order to achieve project objectives, cooperation on various levels was needed. Firstly, there was an intense cooperation and consultations with the German Embassy, which was involved in all activ-ities from the conceptual phase. The spouse of German ambassador in Georgia, Ms. Eva Knirsch is member of the Women Entrepreneur Advocacy Group, mentioned above. Secondly, cooperation with state institutions such as Ministry of Environment   al Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, Na-tional Wine Agency and Wine Laboratory were of crucial importance. Thirdly, without close and fruit-ful cooperation with the Georgian and German Associations of women winemakers, implementation of the project would not be even possible.
The fact that the Association of Georgian Women Winemakers is a newly founded business member-ship organization, which has no institutional and management experience yet, represented the main challenge of the project.
Factors for success were, on the one hand, the fact, that project objectives were fully in line with the priorities of state institutions, esp. of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, on the other hand, high dedication and involvement of women winemakers, as well as trust of our part-ners in GIZ.

4. Gender and Result-based Monitoring

Our work with small and medium enterprises in wine sector and German and Georgian Associations of women winemakers is fully in line with the result logic of Private Sector Development and Technical Vocational Education and Training in the South Caucasus (PN: 16.2179.6-001.00). All activities within the frame of the project are documented according to the current result-based monitoring system of the PSD TVET programme.