Producer Spotlight: Tiko Estate

After years of travelling and gaining first-hand experience making wine across the world, brothers Levan and Giorgi returned to their homeland of Georgia to establish Tiko Estate. Today Tiko is rapidly emerging as one of Georgia’s most exciting young wineries from the Kakheti region!

Join us as Dora sits down with Levan Chychynadze to explore Georgia’s rich history, ancient winemaking traditions, unique native grape varieties, and the enchanting traditional processes behind Tiko Estate's exceptional wines.



Winery: Tiko Estate
Interviewee: Levan Chychynadze
Role at winery: Owner & Winemaker
Location: Kakheti, Georgia
Kakheti, Georgia | Wine Map | Sociovino UK


Sociovino: Georgia is often referred to as the birthplace of wine. Could you share with our readers a bit about Georgia’s winemaking history? 

Levan: Archaeologists discovered traces of the Qvevri, ancient clay vessels used for winemaking, near the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, dating back 8,000 years, therefore evidence suggests that Georgia is the oldest winemaking country in the world.

The significance of wine in Georgia is deeply intertwined with its religious history. In the 4th century, Saint Nino baptized Georgia using a cross made from grapevines, symbolising the strong connection between viticulture and Georgian culture. Over the centuries, winemaking has been integral to Georgian society, with many wines still produced by churches, reflecting the strong Orthodox Christian faith prevalent in the country. Georgia’s winemaking history has been shaped by its tumultuous past, however. Situated between the Persian, Ottoman, and Russian empires, Georgia endured numerous attempts to impose their cultures and religions. The Persians and Ottomans, being predominantly Muslim, sought to eradicate Georgian vineyards to suppress local religious traditions. Despite these challenges, Georgia’s winemaking legacy has survived.  


"therefore evidence suggests that Georgia is the oldest winemaking country in the world."


Sociovino: How did Georgia recover from these challenges?

Levan: Georgians are incredibly resilient people with strong characters—something my wife often jokes about (he chuckles). Tbilisi, our capital, has been burned down over 40 times, yet each time, we’ve rebuilt it. Today, our vineyards are thriving, and we've re-established our roots while staying true to our traditions. Despite only having 30 years of independence, and being shaped by years of wars, Georgia has emerged stronger than ever. With ongoing EU integration, we're optimistic about continued growth and development in tourism, commerce, and social sectors.


Tiko Estate | Georgian Wine | Sociovino


Sociovino: One style of wine that typifies Georgia is orange wine, and it's really gaining popularity amongst experimental drinkers and natural wine lovers in the UK. What makes it such an interesting style to try?

Levan: Orange wine is the traditional style in Georgia—it's essentially a farmer's wine, a style we've been making for thousands of years. It’s super different from the wine you get from anywhere else in the world, and this is why we’ve made it our mission to champion this style as a country and make it our flagship, showcasing what sets Georgia apart. It's a piece of our world heritage, a testament to our global history, which is why it’s so intriguing. 


"It's a piece of our world heritage, a testament to our global history, which is why it’s so intriguing."


Sociovino: How is it made, and what can readers expect from the flavour profile of these wines?

Levan: Making orange wine starts with waiting for the last pick of the harvest to ensure the phenolics are ripe, which is essential for these skin-contact wines. The process then involves removing the stems from the grapes and a gentle crush, before transferring underground into the Qveveri. We ferment on the skins, at a low temperature, to preserve the aromatic freshness. During fermentation the golden colour that transforms is amazing. I love this part of the process, it’s fascinating to watch and feels quite emotional. In the Kakhetian style, the wine stays on the skins for six months, right through the winter, which naturally stabilizes the proteins due to the cold and helps soften the wine.

Ten years ago, orange wines were extremely tannic, almost like brewing tea with five tea bags instead of one—too harsh to enjoy. Nowadays, we’re moving towards lighter styles. The more commercial orange wines have minimal tannins and a fruity profile, which are easier for the general consumer to appreciate. But we like to make something in the middle, a more foodie style, geared towards wine enthusiasts. Our Orange Kisi has soul, it's got character, it's not a simple wine. The flavour profile is wide and generous with citrus, honey, melon, ginger, and a hint of spice.  


Qvevri Wine | Tiko Estate | Kakheti, Georgia | Sociovino


Sociovino: You mentioned the Qvevri, can you explain its significance and how it is used in modern winemaking?

Levan: The Qvevri is a key element of Georgia’s winemaking heritage, recognised in 2013 by UNESCO as part of the world's intangible cultural heritage, showing you its historical importance.

In Georgia, using Qvevri is a practical solution to regulate temperature due to our climatic conditions. We bury these clay pots underground, which keeps the wine cool during the hot summer months and prevents it from getting too cold in harsh winter weather. Modern Qvevri, like ours, have temperature-regulating jackets, so this aspect is not essential, but we continue to use them out of respect for tradition and for the unique qualities they impart to the wine. Qvevri are porous, allowing a small amount of oxygen to interact with the wine. This interaction is different from both barrel and steel tank aging, offering a balance in between. The slight oxygen exposure helps with the phenolics, particularly in softening the tannins. This method is well-suited to our grape varieties and winemaking style, especially for producing orange wines.


"The Qvevri is a key element of Georgia’s winemaking heritage, recognised in 2013 by UNESCO as part of the world's intangible cultural heritage"


Sociovino: You have a plethora of native grape varieties that even seasoned wine enthusiasts might not recognise. Tell us about these unique grape varieties and which ones are truly defining modern Georgian wine.

Levan: We have 525 native Georgian grape varieties, surpassing Italy, which has around 300. The most widely planted varieties are Rkatsiteli (pronounced rkah-tsee-teh-lee) and Saperavi (sah-peh-rah-vee). These are the most commonly used in Georgian winemaking and have been for centuries. Other interesting varieties to seek out are Mtsvane (mits-vah-neh), Kisi (kee-see), Shavkapito (shahv-kah-pee-toh), and one of my personal favorites, Khikhvi (khee-khvee). Yes, some of these names can be challenging to pronounce, I know!


Native Grapes | Tiko Estate | Georgian Wine | Sociovino


Sociovino: We’ve been huge fans of your wines since our first taste! For readers who haven’t tried Tiko Estate wines, could you walk us through your range and what they can expect?

Levan: I explained about our Orange Kisi earlier, so I’ll tell you about the others.

Our new wine is Mtsvane, which translates to green, named after the colour of its grapes. It’s an aromatic variety, and we're making a fresh, easy-drinking style here. It's perfect for a party or as an aperitif, but also pairs well with lighter starters and mains featuring fish, salads, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Next, we have Rkatsiteli, which is partially fermented in barriques and whole bunch pressed, resulting in a delicate wine with a slight sweetness from the barrel. It goes well with grilled fish, chicken, creamy sauces, and mushrooms. The flavor profile offers white stone fruits, a touch of creaminess from the lees contact, and a hint of vanilla from the barrels.

Then there's Saperavi, perfect for grilled steak and roasted red meats. It’s super dark, almost purple in colour, full-bodied, with ripe dark cherries, plums, vanilla and spice. It's a broad and long palate, comparable to the bold styles of Australian and Argentinian wines.


Levan & Maria | Tiko Estate | Georgian Wine | Sociovino


Sociovino: Can you share your story and what inspired you to return to Georgia and establish Tiko Estate?

Levan: My brother and I are native Georgians, and our winemaking journey began thanks to our father. He graduated from university in Tbilisi during the Soviet era and was then sent to Crimea in Ukraine, home to a major wine institute. That’s how we ended up in Ukraine, where my brother and I both graduated in winemaking. After university, my brother went to Burgundy for a vintage, while I made my way to Australia. Since then, between us, we have done vintages in France, America, Ukraine, and Australia. Australia is where I met my wife, Maria, who is also in the wine industry. But the dream was always to return to Georgia someday.

Tiko was my mother's nickname, given to her by my grandfather. In Georgia, "Tiko Tiko" is a sweet nickname often used for children. Our father was a respected scientist and businessman but passed away young, leaving our mother to guide us. When we started the winery in 2017, naming it Tiko Estate was our way of honoring her and all she did for us. Today, we produce about 30,000 bottles across eight different products. Our range is already fairly extensive, but we’re always looking to grow. We now export to 13 countries and aim to sell worldwide eventually. Next stop, the moon!


"naming it Tiko Estate was our way of honoring her and all she did for us"


Tiko Estate | Georgian Wine | Sociovino


Sociovino: For those who love to travel, what is it like for tourists in Georgia? What are your top recommendations for places to visit and things to do?

Levan: Firstly, most Georgians speak English, so you won’t have any trouble getting around! In Tbilisi, the capital, you’ll find an amazing mix of ancient and modern architecture. The 5th-century cathedrals and churches are a must-see, as are the more modern buildings. This blend of civilizations and religions—Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox—creates a unique atmosphere. Just an hour from Tbilisi, you can find yourself in the mountains, where you can go camping, hiking, and rafting on some of our amazing rivers. In winter, you can even ski here! And on the western border, you can relax by the Black Sea and enjoy the beach. For oenotourism, the Kakheti region is the place to be, there are numerous wineries to visit. Currently, we produce our wines at a friend’s winery, but we're in the process of building our very own winery and tasting room, not far from Tbilisi.


"This blend of civilizations and religions—Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox—creates a unique atmosphere."


Sociovino: And lastly, where would you recommend seeking out for some good food?

Levan: Georgian food is simply one of the best in the world (in my opinion)—fresh vegetables, and spices galore! In Tbilisi, we have nice a mix of traditional and modern restaurants to explore. Try Ninia’s Garden, or its sister restaurant Shavi Lomi (Black Lion), which are fantastic. Veriko is another favourite of mine. For something truly traditional, check out a Tsiskvili (Watermill). And don't miss Winery Yard N1, which has a collection of very rare wines.

Something very interesting to experience is a “supra” (meaning tablecloth), which is a traditional Georgian feast and a big part of our social culture. Hosted by the “tamada” (toastmaster), there are lots of rules to it but it’s basically it's multiple courses of food, each course with its own toast and individual significance, and of course lots of wine to go down with it!


If you've enjoyed reading about Tiko’s story, we know you'll enjoy trying their wines! You can explore the full range here. 
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