Georgia fights US for favourite wine of Stalin

on 07/03/11 at 10:02 pm

Wine

Georgia is fighting to win back the trademark for Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s favourite brand of red wine in the United States.

The country’s patent office is in negotiations with US-based company Dozortsev and Sons, which currently has the exclusive right to sell the semi-sweet Georgian wine, called Khvanchkara, in the US.

“A monopoly for Georgian wines’ trademarks in one private company’s hands may damage the interests of our winemakers,” said patent office head, Irakli Gvaladze.

Khvanchkara is only produced in limited quantities in one remote region of the ex-Soviet republic.

Georgian-born Soviet leader Stalin liked Khvanchkara so much that he served it to US president Franklin Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill at a crucial World War II summit in Yalta in 1945.

Georgia claims to be the birthplace of wine, citing archaeological finds which suggest that viniculture may have begun in the country 8,000 years ago, before it reached western Europe.

The country lost its biggest export market when Russia imposed a ban on Georgian wine in 2006 amid political tensions that erupted into war two years later.

The Russian ban severely damaged the industry, but there were signs of an upturn in 2010, with increased exports to ex-Communist states like Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

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