Saakashvili says Georgia should do more to promote its wine

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Wednesday served wine to Cabinet ministers but not with the intent of making them feel good.

The wine that Saakashvili served was several varieties of foreign counterfeits of Georgian wine. The president chastised ministers for not assertively promoting Georgia's wine abroad, thereby allowing bogus brands to take a share of the market.

Georgian wine has a high reputation in Europe and consumers looking for a low-cost but tasty bottle often are duped into buying fakes.

He noted that many other countries have been more successful with wine exporting than Georgia.

"While the Agricultural Ministry is asleep, while the majority of our wine producers are asleep, Spanish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian and Czech wine producers ... successfully tap markets and receive profits in the millions," Saakashvili said in the televised meeting.

"Let them (wine producers) rise from their chairs, take our wine and carry it to the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine," he said.

Russia banned Georgian wine imports last month, claiming pesticides and heavy metals had been found. Last week, Russia also banned Georgia's trademark mineral water Borzhomi, which has been popular among Russians both as a beverage as well as medication for decades.

The largely agricultural Georgia relies heavily on wine and other exports to Russia. Georgian officials have called the ban politically motivated and an attempt to keep Georgia's pro-Western government under Moscow's thumb, reports AP.

O.Ch.

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