The majestic history of Château Mukhrani 35 km outside Tbilisi is connected with the XIX century political public figure Ivane Mukhranbatoni, an ancestor of the Bagrationi dynasty. He was introduced with the Château conception in 1876. While on a trip to France, he also learned the technology of European winemaking and decided to establish a production in Georgia to make wine with the synthesis of Georgian and classical technologies.
In order to implement this idea, Mukhranbatoni invited French archi tects, viticulturists, and gardeners and started to construct a château of European style in Kartli, on the Mukhrani plain. The project belonged to French architects, with construction starting in 1872 and comple ted 12 years later. The garden around the palace, an object of admiration for many, was designed by a gardener from Versailles. It was the wealthiest palace in Georgia in the XIX century, with gold-plated furniture, a grand-piano, and the first billiard-table in the country.
This huge territory of Mukhranbatoni became the epicenter of the Georgian elite. The first floor housed a theater with 150 seats and Mukhranbatoni regularly hosted a plethora of guests: Georgian and foreign public figures, scientists, writers and poets. The famous Georgian public figure and writer Ilia Chavchavadze was an often guest there and the Russian emperor also paid a visit to the Château.
The idea of restoring the site, which was ravaged and robbed in Bolshevik times, came up in 2002 on the initiative of Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze and investor Frederik Paulsen. The vineyards were re-cultivated on the territory and the palace was restored to its original appearance. Building and restoration works lasted seven years. Tourism development began at the Château in 2011.
The Château is set in a calm and majestically beautiful location and is a top destination for many visitors. On weekends, the site is jam-packed with people looking to spend time in the fresh air. Professional guides and sommeliers of the Château aim to offer visitors an unforgettable experience every time.
Upcoming plans include works on the palace interior in a project by well-known French architect, Juan Pablo Molyneux. A concert hall and exposition spaces are to be installed in the palace and a swimming-pool and a golf course will be constructed on the territory.
THE ETHNOGRAPHIC CORNER
Various activities are available in the Georgian ethnographic corner. Visitors can make churchkhela, bake bread in the traditional Georgian bakery (tone), distill chacha (traditional vodka), and take master classes in preparing khachapuri and khinkali. Plus, visitors can try their hand at grape picking at harvest time. The kitchen is also an open space for experimenting and expanding gastronomic abilities.
One of the main activities of Château Mukhrani is business tou rism and it has been in increasing demand for large-scale confe ren ces, corporative parties, weddings and birthdays in recent years. This area can accommodate 3000-4000 guests. Château Mukhrani is not only a beloved place for Georgians, but is also popular among foreigners who contact the Château tourism administration via tourist agencies or in person. Events are organized by a team of pro fessional and experienced event managers who do their best to launch majestic weddings in which all details of the open-air space are foreseen beforehand. Only the weather can change plans, but in such cases tents add an elegant look and appear as very photogenic.
THE HORSE RIDING CLUB
Kids from Mukhrani can learn horse-riding free of charge. Trainer Mamuka Makharadze introduces us to Teo Lashkhia, who, at just 12, became a horse-riding champion of Georgia in 2016. From the horse-riding area, we head to a stable, where seven horses and a three-week old foal called Estamp react calmly to our photo-shoot.
According to legend, when Ivane Mukhranbatoni had important guests, sparkling wine was streaming from a fountain located in the center of the park. There is a garden of cedars and white roses around the fountain. We reach the French garden where vegetables are cultivated which are later taken to the kitchen to be prepared with the famous meat of Mukhrani and other natural products.
THE GREEN FIELD
Almost every visitor has a memorable photo taken in that field of the Château. This is a huge sloping field and amphitheater – a fabulous place for organizing wonderful photo sessions during wedding parties or while relaxing. There are also some wine cellars there. It is planned to return to the Château the historical function of cultural epicenter and to launch large-scale festivals and other cultural events there.
We step into the past under the green field: 20 cellars where temperatures range from 14 to 16 degrees. The cellars have been restored and reconstructed with old, authentic bricks and the XIX-century tunnel also preserves its original look. There you can see barrels keeping the secrets of Mukhranbatoni’s wines: Caucasian, French and American barrels made in France. The cellar also brings together modern wines from the domains of the Bagrationi dynasty. The oldest is the 2007 Saperavi; only several bottles are left and consequently are quite costly.
The production, equipped with up-to-date technology produces 17 varieties of wine from the Château territory. Georgian and French grapes are cultivated in vineyards spread across a 100 ha area. Special labs check first the grapes and then the wine quality. The traditional method of winemaking in Qvevri (clay vessel) began in 2014 at the Château. One can view a bottle with an emblem of the Romanovs, dating back to Ivane Mukhranbatoni’s period. The owners of the Château purchased this bottle from a private collection. In the exposition area you can see the label of Mukhranbatoni’s wine which reached Europe and the USA. Special master classes of wine tasting and other related activities are also available.
We taste Mukhranbatoni’s white and red wines from the so-called ‘Collection Secrète, produced from four grape varieties; the names of three grapes are written on a label, but the fourth is kept secret.
The tour ends at restaurant ‘Samepo Marani 1878’. The name is connected with the first bottled wine of Ivane Mukhranbatoni. The restaurant offers an original selection of Georgian and European dishes which are made by a team of professional cooks. They serve a la carte, banquet and fourchette menus. You can take gastronomic delight from various dishes: the crown of calf ribs, Tavaduri salad, a cherry dish and Chashnagiri. These dishes fill people with a sense of royal luxury and nostalgia, leading one to appreciate the complete journey, begun with the bold idea of Ivane Mukhranbatoni.
Several years ago, the granddaughter of Ivane Mukhranbatoni’s brother, an elderly lady from France, Tatiana Faberge, paid a visit to the Château. Having viewed the entire territory, she told the hosts that she had been brought up in a palace and the area provoked deep emotions in her. By the end of her visit, Tatiana expressed her wish to donate remarkable furniture – her inheritance, which had been taken from Georgia to Geneva. She is only waiting for the day when the palace interior of poetic and majestic Château is complete.