Georgians broke our habit of drinking quality wine

Sofo Sitchinava

For settling the problems existing in wine industry the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has held more than one meting with wine producing companies, government representatives, and wine specialists, at which various opinion concerning the regulation of the sector were expressed.

The Chamber has played an important role in coordination of entrepreneurs’ activities, and it is the merit of these meetings that partner relations were established between the entrepreneurs and that they have a common position with which they appeared before the government and managed to protect their interests.
Jemal Inaishvili (the President of Commerce and Industry Chamber) – “During all this period of time, for consideration of the existing problems, we have arranged work meetings with participation of the leading entrepreneurs of the sector, and held consultations on preparation of the sector’s reform proposals for presentation to the Ministry of Agriculture. I think that finally the common sense has prevailed”. The government presented several variants of struggle against falsification, among which the idea of selling wine produced in certain areas as brands caused particular anxiety of the entrepreneurs, in conditions when the state practically gave up struggle against falsification outside the country and only promised its support to the entrepreneurs. The second variant consisted in creation of patronage established by not more than 5 entrepreneurs and it would implement protection of wines produced in certain areas. This model has caused a lot of questions, and a supposition was expressed that it meant isolation. In the end it was rejected too”.
The meeting, at which optimum variant of struggle was revealed, was held in the Agrarian Committee of Georgian parliament, and again under the initiative of Commerce and Industry Chamber. Entrepreneurs, sector specialists and scientists were present at the meeting. As a result of the consultations with them the committee adopted, let us call it so, a public order – it was decided the idea of selling wine produced in certain areas as brands should be discarded and the French model should be adopted, which envisages keeping of the names of wines produced in certain areas. The state will remain the owner, while total control will be carried out by “Samtrest”, in whose structure a managing board will be created, according to the supposedly new model. Its functions will include presentation of “Samtrest’s” director’s candidature, general supervision over the organization’s activities (approval of the plan of activities, hearing and approval of the director’s account, etc.). The managing board will be formed according to the principles of rotation and on parity basis, and will consist of representatives of the state and wine-makers. The representatives of entrepreneurs in the managing board will be chosen by the committee that will be created under the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The the present functions of “Samtrest” new one will be added – struggle against internal falsification.
Supposedly, a committee or chamber on wine-making will be created under Georgian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The enterprises working in this sector will be members of the committee. The committee will elect a chairman (on rotation basis). The committee will have its account where the accumulation of sums will take place. The main task of this committee will be popularization of Georgian wine, export promotion and struggle against falsification outside the country.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry will exclusively issue export certificates for alcoholic drinks. The rules of certificates’ issue will be approved by the committee on wine-making. Issuance of certificates will contribute to liquidation of falsified wines’ export.
Gia Kheviashvili (the Chairman of the Agrarian Committee) – “The meeting in the Agrarian Committee once again proved the rightness of our views. All experts had a single opinion, and the committee was absolutely unanimous.
The same evening we met the Prime Minister and told him our opinions. Mr. Zurab has more than once said that this issue had not been solved to the end, and, as it can be seen our arguments and views were rather convincing”.
The Ministry of Agriculture has drawn up a schedule of tasks and activities. First of all, the reorganization of “Samtrest” should be completed, which is planned for the August. “Samtrest’s” reformation is inevitable even without it, but the Prime Minister’s task has accelerated this process, which is very important for Georgian wine-making. The reorganized “Samtres” will, first of all, will eradicate falsification within Georgia.
What are the mechanisms for falsification’s eradication within the country, particularly when it concerns the type of falsification, when not only the name of Georgian wine but often even a human life is endangered. The ministry of Agriculture considers developing of such methods in wine-making like in veterinary – all responsibility should be leveled at a trade unit.
Specialists believe that if these methods does not work in the struggle with the falsifiers of wine, this task will probably remain unsettled. If falsified produce will be found at a trade unit, this unit should be punished in the first place – that is, it should be closed. Like in veterinary, the trade unit is responsible for the quality of produce.
Gia Kheviashvili – “It is a pity that Georgians became unused to drinking good wine, they have even forgotten its taste. I think that the God created vine and wine for the Georgians, and falsification must be eradicated in Georgia. It is known, that the wine that is consumed by the majority of Georgian population is a poisonous liquid made of spirits and powder, which by no means can be called wine”. It is clear from the very beginning the reformed “Samtrest” has a rather serious and difficult task in store. All this will require finances. According to the preliminary calculations, “Samtrest’s” budget will make up about 1,5 million GEL, but the they believe in the legislative body, that the state has possibilities and resources to finance “Samtrest”. The reformed “Samtrest” will be a strong organization, which will have transport, laboratories, and other means.
The first stem for the eradication of falsified wines on foreign market has already been taken – 8 names of famous local wines were registered with WIPO and certified. This means that 23 countries, that signed Lisbon agreement, assume an obligation to protect wines of local names.
In other words, if in the past a falsifier illegally bottled for example “Khvanchkara” abroad, and we did not even had a legal basis to bring an action against him, today we have quite a different picture. Registration of other sorts of grapes will gradually take place and it will ease struggle against falsification on the international markets, particularly when the Chamber of Commerce and Trade will participate in this matter. It is rather labor-intensive and expensive work. The fact is that we have taken a civilized path in this sphere and this process cannot be stopped.
In the very beginning when the talk of wine regulating body just started, the entrepreneurs expressed their consent that each exported bottle should be taxed in the amount of 1 cent, which would be used for the struggle against falsification. The representatives of both legislation and executive powers agree this sum will be used for popularization of advertisement of Georgian wine on the international market. Probably, this sum, as we have mentioned above, will be placed on the account of the committee created under the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The authorities believe that struggle against falsification is a duty of the state. When a conscientious entrepreneur makes a payment to the budget, the state should not take an additional sum from him for the struggle against falsification.
Gia Kheviashvili – “Abroad wine-making companies are partners and not competitors. One company cannot carry out struggle falsification by itself. I think that the state, “Samtrest”, the Chamber of Commerce – all of them should do their best to popularize Georgian wine abroad. First of all it concerns the territory of the former USSR. The money collected by the entrepreneurs must be spent for this purpose.
I would like to stress the significance of the exhibition that was organized by Baku Chamber of Commerce. Almost all of us know that Azerbaijan is a neighboring partner country, and it seems that our produce should not have any problems on its market, but as it turned out, it is not so at all; Georgian wine is not in demand in Azerbaijan, and they do not know at all that we, Georgians, have such a good wine. Proceeding from this, the promotional arrangements carried out by the Chamber of Commerce are very important. I believe that after Jemal Inaishvili’s coming to the Chamber of Commerce this organization activated its work. I have been in politics for rather a long time and up to this moment I have not head any relations with the Chamber of Commerce. Popularization of Georgian produce – is a duty of the Chamber of Commerce. As to the struggle against falsification, I believe that in this matter the state should act hand in hand with the Chamber of Commerce. Today there is no country (especially among our neighboring countries), where, regardless of the fact whether they grow grapes or not, there is no falsification of wine. It is an indicator of the fact that there is a great demand for our wine, and wine of good quality can enter a market in two years’ time”.
Jemal Inaishvili – “Georgian wine is not well known on international markets. There is a serious danger of loosing positions on the main export markets, and new export markets are very difficult to enter.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has many possibilities to help wine-makers and protect their interests. Be it analysis of the situation existing in the sector and elaboration of corresponding proposals for the government, implementation of arrangements for popularization of Georgian wine abroad, or planning and implementation of presentation arrangements for promoting Georgian wine. Besides creation of wine museum, we also consider creation of “Wine Media” company, which will shoot documentary films aimed at popularization of Georgian wine, and produce CDs and DVDs.
The sector’s experts believe that if we speak about economic development, the emphasis should be placed on agriculture, the backbone of which is wine making and wine growing. Everybody agrees that if necessary conditions are created for this sector it will become the backbone of the economy.