I'll Have a Rik . . . a Rkats . . . Oh, Make It a Chardonnay

Wente Bros. Winery of Livermore, Calif. has agreed to invest in Sameba Co., a winery in the Republic of Georgia--where some scholars believe wine was invented thousands of years ago. Distribution is expected to be in the four Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries where Wente now distributes its own California wines: Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Lithuania. UC Davis-trained winemaker Hughes Ryan has already moved to Georgia to supervise the fall's crush. The wines will be made from Rkatsitelli, a white grape, and Saperavi, which produces a dark red wine that ages well. "It's premature to say," says John Schwartz, Wente's vice president/international, "but we hope to produce a suitable product that meets U.S. standards within two to five years."

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