Growing up in tiny Jasper, Florida, Jamie Carrasquilla never imagined one day she would be the head of a company that imports an exclusive line of wines from the faraway country of Georgia. But after visiting the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus Mountain region and meeting the people and tasting their wine, Carrasquilla knew she had to bring it to the United States. “Georgian wine is very, very popular in Europe, but less than one percent of Americans have ever tasted it,” Carrasquilla said. “And as soon as I tasted it I was blown away, and I set out to change that!”
Carrasquilla, a 9th generation Floridian who speaks with a slight southern twang, explained how she learned all about Georgia— “the country, not the state north of us!”—while visiting her husband, Michael, who was on assignment there as an active-duty Marine in 2016. There she quickly she fell in love with the people, the culture, and the wine, and when she found out the vino was very popular and highly regarded throughout Europe, Carrasquilla was curious why she’d never seen Georgian labels for sale in the United States.
“I asked why the were no Georgian wines in the US, and I got a history lesson that dated back to the Cold War, when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union,” she explained. “They burned all the vineyards and enacted prohibition, and so the winemaking families are just beginning to produce and export wine again.”
Carrasquilla, who said she “never had a wine that I truly loved” until she found the Georgian vintners, said their wines are so special “because less than one percent of Americans have ever tasted them, so it’s not comparable to whatever you’ve tasted before.” She said the combination of the grapes, the winemaking methods (some vines were grown underground after the Cold War, or they would be extinct now) and the love and dedication the Georgian people put into their craft put their wines among the finest in the world. “I have to give my winemakers credit for the quality,” she said. “When I started this company, I said I wanted to show the United States the best Georgian wines, and I believe Vino Ghvino 21 has done that.” Carrasquilla said their wines come in the red and white, sweet, and dry varieties Americans are accustomed to, but they also carry ambers and a natural blue wine unique to Georgia, and she noted every Vino Ghvino 21 label is all natural, organic and contain no sulfites, which means… “No headaches,” Carrasquilla said. “Georgian wine is called the “no hangover” wine and I can attest that it’s true!”
With unique labels in a variety of flavors and colors that have rarely been experienced here, Carrasquilla said she is “super excited” to bring Vino Ghvino 21 wines to the Safety Harbor Wine Festival on Saturday, Nov. 5th.
“It’s like Christmas came early for us!” she said, adding “everyone is ecstatic because we know everyone is going to be talking about Vino Ghvino 21 at WineFest. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like it, and it makes me very proud to be bringing Georgia wines to our friends in the Tampa Bay area!”
Vino Ghvino 21 wines are available for purchases in several locations throughout the Tampa Bay area, including the Arthur Murray Dance Studio on US 19 in Clearwater and Tilted Barrel Liquors in Pinellas Park. For more information and retail locations, visit vg21wine.com.