When Prince Alexander Chavchavadze settled down at his writing desk at the Tsinandali estate in the early 19th century, he may not have realised that he would one day be crowned the father of Georgian romanticism. But that is exactly what he went on to become. Chavhavadze rightly deserves much of the attention when Caucasian history is examined, but there is also a special place for Tsinandali, a place with very special qualities indeed.
Sitting at the centre of Georgian cultural life, Tsinandali became the first estate in the country to produce European style wine and establish a world class botanical garden. The Smithsonian-restored museum that stands there today speaks to a history which saw Georgia’s first grand piano and concert amphitheatres. In other words, a cultural beacon. However, despite its illustrious past, the estate fell into a state of disrepair, owed to years of neglect, particularly during the country’s communist era. It seemed wrong that such a cultural jewel would remain in such a condition.
That is why, along with my friend George Ramishvili, I became involved in multi-year efforts to restore and revive this beautiful and historical corner of the world. Considerable resources have gone into restoration efforts, with hundreds of exhibits installed over the past 10 years. Most excitingly, this year will see the first ever Tsinandali International Festival of Classical Music, bringing some of the greatest musicians from across the region and globe.
Being part of efforts to breathe new life into a cultural institution, restoring an estate that brings pride to the nation of Georgia, is truly a privilege. The aspect that perhaps most excites me is the role the festival will have in promoting young musicians from across the region, putting them on their biggest stage yet under the direction of Gianandrea Noseda, one of the world’s most sought-after conductors.
Elsewhere, kickstarting wine production, with the estate’s history of essentially starting the manufacture of Georgia wine, has been a fascinating experience. To be a part of efforts to restart a key aspect of the country’s cultural heritage is why I got involved in the Tsinandali project in the first place. Indeed, Prince Alexander is credited as the founder of Georgian winemaking.
I therefore implore all of you to drink in the beautiful grounds, eye-opening museum and a few glasses of delicious Georgian wine and come visit the historic Tsinandali Estate.