Kakheti is a region in eastern Georgia, famous for great weather, golden hills, and Georgia's principal wine country.
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Georgian is unquestionably the main language in the region, but much of the older generation speak Russian and the younger generation is increasingly speaking English due to hostility towards Russia, and also because English is taught in schools since independence and has replaced Russian as a second language in schools nation-wide. When in need for help, look for younger people, as they are more likely to know some English.
If you happen to speak Chechen, you could have a very interesting experience in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, where many Chechen refugees have set up shanties.
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Sighnaghi sleeping and eating option: "Nato & Lado" Guest House. Really nice Georgian family atmosphere in central Sighnaghi. Prices include traditional Kakheti breakfast and dinner, the owner´s home made wine, tea and coffee -all of which can be enjoyed form the terrace over looking the town and hills. Also, Wifi and en suite hot shower and toilet. Nato can take you in her car to her own vineyard and local sights in Kakheti. Address: Pirosmani St 5. Tel: 599 212 988. Nato speaks fluent English.
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Great drinking opportunities await visitors to Kakheti. Some wineries (especially the Teliani Tsinandali Winery) will give nice, commercial tours to anyone who shows up, whenever they show up, which include wine tasting. As a matter of fact, if you go to any of the wineries and ask for a tour, you will get one, although they may not be very professional about it (and may not charge you anything). Because nearly all of Georgia's high quality wine is exported, and because there are not many tourists in Kakheti, it can actually be impossible to buy wine directly from smaller wineries (even under the table!). Wineries that are not licensed to sell directly to visitors should have an official store nearby, but be sure to call ahead of time to make sure that it is open.
At Tsinandali, they want you to pay (separately) for: (1) looking at the garden (2) viewing at the wine museum (3) 20 GEL fixed price and quantity of wine tasting (there is no choice to try fewer/more wines and/or quantity). Tsinandali estate has no sign! But, just 200 to 300 metres from Tsinandali is Shumi vineyards who provide complimentary wine tasting and their wine museum is free to view as is their property.
But of course the best drinking opportunities are in the homes of the ordinary people of Kakheti. Nearly every household has its own homemade, usually delicious wine. If you are the least outgoing and speak either Georgian or Russian, chances are you will get invited into someone's home for wine and food—do not pass this up! Your host may also offer you Georgian "chacha," an outrageously potent vodka distilled from grapes, which you may indeed want to pass up.
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