It is a place which is "unique in the world" says Paata Khumarashvili, for the range of different eco-systems which exist within a relatively small area.
The next morning we rise early and enter Vashlovani by rubber raft along the Alazani River. As we float toward the reserve, the land become ever more dry, dramatic and expressive. Erosion by wind and water has carved and sculpted these mountains ancient seismic forces seem to have toppled and tilted them against the horizon. I watch the lines of rock ripple through the green fringes of the poplar trees lining the bank. Spring seems very new here, and the leaves flash with the brilliant iridescence of an insect's wing.
Amiran is waiting for us on the river back with the horses which will carry us into the reserve and a huge fish his friend Nodari has caught for our dinner. We toast our meeting, our friendship, this beautiful place which Amiran calls a "gift from God", and all the people who have lived and died here, who cared for it and who passed it on.
The horses wait, the day darkens, but this ritual cannot be hurried. It is about more than food and wine it is an affirmation of the bonds that link us to the past, to the earth and to each other.