Observing bees was Zaza’s childhood hobby. He initially bred bees in the village of Muskhi and decided to establish a honey house and study apitherapy. The business was launched with one hive and today he owns a multi-functional farm. He started to teach beekeeping to the village children and was actively engaged in professional educational activities. In 2015, Zaza became a member the Biological Farming Association Elkana and began to grow local varieties of wheat, including indigenous varieties such as dika, tsiteli doli.
In 2020, Zaza opened his farm to tourists and equipped the residential house to offer guests masterclasses in Meskhetian cuisine, including baking traditional tsiteli doli bread in purne (traditional Meskhetian bakery, typical to this region).
Visitors are hosted by Zaza and his wife, but in case of need, the fellow villagers help them too.
The agritourism farm is located on Akhaltsikhe-Saphara touristic route, in the village Ghreli. Tourists visit the farm and purchase honey (acacia, alpine) and other home-produced products such as fruit, bread, cheese, vodka, gozinaki, and mulberry bakmazi. Zaza’s family developed a touristic package that includes a visit to the orchard of local fruit species and the bee garden, participation in farmer’s living activities such as harvesting, bread backing, honey making, etc. The products used for cooking dishes are homegrown. Zaza’s work is an example of utilizing local resources and traditional knowledge.
“Hospitality for me is an expression of love and care; I do not get tired of doing what I love” says Marina Nariashvili. Marina grew up in the city, but in the family Marina’s mother and grandmother always baked bread in a traditional way using purne (Meskhetian bakery). According to the family tradition, the first lavash baked in a bakery was offered to the grandfather – in memory of ancestors. Today the family continues the tradition and added another bakery to their kitchen, which is also used for making of lobiani and khachapuri.
Since 2009, Marina is a member of the Biological Farming Association Elkana. She started an agritourism business with her family members on their own investment. They renovated the family house, added extra rooms and facilities suitable for small groups and family vacations. The house is decorated with handicrafts, including works made by Marina – embroidery with beads.
Today Family hotel Eden receives guests from all over the world and has become a model for others in the region. They receive visitors mainly through booking platforms and local guides. Marina’s culinary talent offering traditional food and family atmosphere have generated a growing demand for gastro-tours. Marina recently has been supported by international organizations such as USAID ZRDA in arranging outdoor kitchens, facilities for tasting Meskhetian cuisine and dining and implementing gastro tour offers. Here, visitors can taste three types of bread: somini, titiani and khmiadi, as well as Meskhetian trout in grape leaves, duck, Lukhumi with mulberry bakmazi – the same as chirikhta bakmazi. The host also offers guests homemade jams and other sweets.
When Marina and Sergo started their business, they had small children and created an environment for family vacations. Families with small children are interested in experiencing rural life, having contact with domestic animals, showing children milking cows, preparing cheese, feeding chickens, picking fruits and vegetables, etc.
Marina and Sergo’s farmhouse Tirebi is one of the first agritourism sites in the region, where tourists are welcomed and provided with fresh and natural products produced by the host family in their own farm. The farmhouse is located in Nakalakevi, 25 km from Aspindza town, at the foot of the Tmogvi fortress, in a quiet and cozy environment, distant from the village.
Sergo has been a member of the Biological Farming Association Elkana since 2008. He has also participated in start-up programs supported by international organizations and renovated a single-story building with a veranda, four double rooms, and a sitting room with a fireplace and a kitchen. There is a traditional Meskhetian purne, an outdoor dining area, and an XII century winepress on the farm. The river Mtkvari near the house gives the visitors the opportunity of fishing and swimming. The hosts offer horse-riding and hiking trails to visitors.
In 2015, Sergo and Marina added a second tourist facility to their business, which is constructed in the traditional Meskhetian style. The guest house is located on Vardzia road, nearby Tsunda Lake, and is popular for offering Meskhetian dishes.
Everyone knows Valodia’s family in this region. For a long time, Valodia was the director of the Vardzia Cave Museum and managed important cultural sites in the region. Today, his son Kakha continues this activity. In 2009, Valodia built an agritourism farm in the Koriskhevi area, 2 km distant from Vardzia Cave Monastery. The farm consists of a beautiful yard, an orchard, and terrace orchards with Meskhetian grapes, Marani (traditional wine cellar), and a bakery. Tourists enjoy dining in the outdoor dining area. The family has a cattle farm, trout farm, and bee colony and serves the guests fresh products.
Wooden cottages have 10 double bedrooms with their private bathrooms, while the stone buildings have 34 (including 1 room for the disabled). Guests have access to the conference hall and attractive outdoor seating areas. From the balcony of the cottages, there is a beautiful view of the Mtkvari river valley.
The hosts made their own investments in the business. Initially, tourism offers were created with income from agricultural activities and their own resources, and then the benefits of tourism were invested in their agricultural business.
The family is a member of the Biological Farming Association Elkana since 2008. Inga, Valodia’s daughter-in-law, said the most important thing is to create an environment that offers different opportunities, new experiences, emotions, and adventures to tourists by involving them in various activities and good interaction between host and guests.
“Even picking tomatoes is a great joy for tourists. If they like it very much, they even buy them”.
Every year the family tries to meet the new season with news and make its loyal customers happy.
Galina Inasaridze’s family was the first to revive the traditional technique of making Tenili cheese in small clay pots. Previously, it was only made for holidays such as Easter, and New Year, and for family consumption. The recipe for Tenili cheese is quite complex and differs from regular cheese in technique and consistency. When someone had a guest in the village, they called Galina and asked to make Tenili Cheese.
Currently, Tenili cheese making is the business of the Inasaridze family. Elkana’s New Year’s fairs are excellent support for her and the popularization of traditional products. “I started selling my products at markets and fairs. Tenili cheese has become popular among people. Now I distribute this product in 6-7 shops, cheese houses, and restaurants in Tbilisi”, says Galina.
The family has now expanded their business and offers guests cheese-making workshops and food-tasting sessions.