I was compelled to take the trip after a few stateside glasses of juicy, rusty-hued kisi and the honey-scented mtsvane (both whites) and spicy saperavi (a red). After a bumpy Aerosvit flight, I arrived ragged to a crumbling, yet beautiful, wine-obsessed country at the precipice of viticultural modernization. There are already some large wineries using stainless steel tanks and making chardonnay, but I visited a number of others — including Alaverdi Monastery and Pheasant’s Tears — who still do it the old-fashioned way. At one vineyard, I met a winemaker named Iago Bitarishvili. It soon became clear that he was the master of chinuri. He stomps the grapes, fills the pots, seals the wine for fermentation and bottles it when stable. Only after drinking his chinuri’s lemony richness was I revived.