Chachkari Winepresses (Region of Samtskhe-Javakheti)
Chachkari (Georg. ჭაჭკარი) – the name of a medieval rocky village, which means in Georgian the gate of chacha (chachis kari). The word “chacha” in Georgian means grape cake. The village of Chachkari was founded in the 12th century during the reign of Queen Tamara. The main infrastructures of the village were terraces on which grapes and other crops were grown, various storage facilities and wine press. Numerous rock wine presses testify that viticulture and winemaking occupied a special place in the village.
The principle of construction is the same as in Vardzia, Vanis Kvabebi, Gelsunda and other settlements of the Kura gorge in this corner of Georgia. However, if these settlements had a defensive or religious significance, Chachkari specialized in the agricultural profile. It has over fifty rocky wine presses, each of which could squeeze up to 4 tons of wine. Naturally, in addition to wine, fortified drinks were also produced in large quantities.
It is said that the village and Vardzia were connected by a secret tunnel through which wine and food entered the cave city. The grapes grown in the vineyards cut into the rock in the village were first squeezed out on the spot and then the juice was sent to Vardzia and poured into jugs. Historians name up to 40 Meskhetian vines of Chachkari that have survived to this day, one of which is about 400 years old. The Ottoman trace – the devastation of Samtskhe-Javakheti, total destruction, genocide, mass resettlement and Islamization made themselves felt. The village of Chachkari has been abandoned for about 100 years.