Lost Ridge Inn is a boutique hotel, craft brewery, fire kitchen and horse ranch that aims to broaden travellers’ perceptions of Kakheti wine region.

Located less than two hours by car from Tbilisi and five minutes from Sighnaghi, it’s ideally positioned for a weekend away or as an alternative base for exploring the area.

Transparency: My stay was hosted by Lost Ridge Inn and Pheasant’s Tears. All opinions and recommendations are 100% my own.

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On the craggy side of the Alazani Valley, at the end of a dirt road that leads you away from the tourist mecca of Sighnaghi, a string of stone houses fan out along a narrow ridge.

The wrinkled hills of Magharo on one side, the Greater Caucasus hovering on the horizon opposite, Qedeli looks like a peninsula jutting out into a sea of gouged valleys and patchwork fields.

Apart from a few summer houses and a handful of families who live here year-round, the village is mostly abandoned. Life in a place so exposed must have been tough, and the lack of arable land, I’m told, is the reason most people had left by the 1970s. This reminds me of something that John – co-founder of the legendary Pheasant’s Tears Winery and an operating partner at Lost Ridge Inn – mentioned during my stay: The best wine doesn’t come from the mollycoddled grapes that grow on the flat, hospitable valley floor, it comes from the hardened vines that cling to stony soil and slope and must bury their roots deep to survive.

There’s a nice parallel here with Qedeli, a place whose name literally means ‘ridge’ and whose spirit somehow endures despite almost being wiped off the map.

A horse grazes on a hill overlooking a tiny church in the distance in Kakheti, Georgia.

This forgotten village, the ‘lost ridge’, is the ideal setting for an all-encompassing accommodation, culinary and immersive tour experience that’s rooted in nature and tied to tradition. Lost Ridge Inn offers visitors the opportunity to indulge in everything Kakheti is known for – but with a twist.

Instead of being whisked from winery to monastery in the back of a car as is customary, at Lost Ridge, you travel around on horseback, forcing you to slacken the pace and savour the journey. Instead of the cookie-cutter menu you find at most restaurants, mealtimes bring a seasonal, plant-based feast that showcases local produce in imaginative ways. And instead of wine, there’s craft beer. (But don’t worry, wine is also available!)

In a part of Georgia where people come to indulge, Lost Ridge Inn is a place to find nourishment. Here’s what to expect, and everything you need to know to plan a visit.

A black piano decorated with empty beer and wine bottles.

The Lost Ridge story

Lost Ridge Inn opened in 2018 as a joint venture between Living Roots Travel, a boutique tour operator based out of Tbilisi, and MIR Corporation. Both companies have a love and respect for the land, and Lost Ridge was born out of an eagerness to share that affection for rural Kakheti with others.

Despite being extremely diverse, Kakheti has been pegged as ‘the wine region’ and is relatively unexplored beyond the vineyards and monasteries. Hit pause on your travel itinerary, spend a few nights at Lost Ridge, and you’ll be rewarded with a deeper understanding of Eastern Georgia.

A woman pours beer into a beer glass at Lost Ridge Inn in Sighnaghi.

The Qedeli property is ever-evolving. Currently you’ll find a stable, microbrewery, outdoor Fire Kitchen and eight guest rooms, all linked by terraced gardens, wide decks and outdoor communal spaces.

Lost Ridge welcomes day guests for beer tastings, home-cooked meals and tours by horseback, while patrons of the inn receive a complimentary breakfast plus access to everything else.

Social and environmental sustainability is woven in. Living Roots makes a point of bringing tourists to lesser-visited parts of Georgia and at Lost Ridge, produce and provisions are sourced from local farmers. Most staff come from Nukriani, creating much-needed employment opportunities in the small town down the road.

A colourful wallhanging hangs above a bed in a guesthouse in Sighnaghi, Georgia.

The Archaeology Suite

Located on the grounds of the ranch, Lost Ridge’s signature room is The Archaeology Suite, where we were lucky enough to stay. The self-contained apartment takes its overall shape from the stone foundations of a 100-year-old farmhouse uncovered on the property. A fireplace unearthed during the renovations forms the heart of the suite and is the inspiration behind the name.

The original part of the house was transformed into a bedroom for two. Stone walls and floors make it extremely cosy in winter and – I assume – cool in summer. A generous modern bathroom opens directly off the back of the bedroom.

A large tree without leaves silhouetted against a colourful sunrise.
A split-level space with glass walls and a wooden deck.

From the outside, the suite looks like a house within a house – on two sides it’s framed by walls of double-glazed windows, giving the stone walls the look of a preserved museum piece. The glassed sections provide enough additional space for a full kitchen and laundry on one side, and an enclosed dining room at the front.

The oversized lampshade hanging above the dining table immediately caught my eye – it was handmade by local textile artist Nino Kvavilashvili who is also the founder of Gallery 27, one of my favourite boutiques in Tbilisi.

While The Archaeology Suite is the perfect size for solo travellers or couples, other options can be found in the two-story inn a short stroll from the ranch. The main house has six modern and breezy rooms, each with an ensuite bathroom, terrace access, and interior furnishings handcrafted by woodworkers from a nearby village.

For families and groups, the Piruza House – also set in a restored house adjacent to the ranch – has three bedrooms, a common kitchen, and access to a private yard.

As we toured the grounds, wandering through freshly turned veggie patches, our host at Lost Ridge, Tamara, pointed out several sets of stone foundations still enveloped in earth – more old houses awaiting their turn to be rehabilitated.

A spread of food on a plaid tablecloth at a hotel in Kakheti, Georgia.

Breakfast at Lost Ridge

Breakfast is included in the nightly rate and prepared next door to the Archaeology Suite in the cafe kitchen. If you’re staying at the ranch, you have the option to eat in your private dining room, inside the cafe or on the front deck.

An elevated version of your typical Georgian guesthouse breakfast, the spread varies by season but usually includes local dairy products (butter, strained yogurt, cream and soft cheese), a selection of jams, pancakes, puri from the village and a warm dish (we had baked leeks with eggs and lemon).

The highlight for me was definitely the house-made kefir and the Sazamtros Muraba, sweet pickled watermelon rind that pairs deliciously with butter on fresh bread.

A woman pours beers from a distiller tank.

The Brewery & Fire Kitchen

Lunch and dinner are available at the outdoor Fire Kitchen adjacent to the inn, while beer tastings are held in the brewery on the lower level of the main house. You can also order bottles of Lost Ridge Brewery beer and Kakhetian wines from the bar. The main inn features a common sitting room with a fireplace and an upstairs terrace that commands lovely views over the valley.

The brewery turns out small batches of Belgian-inspired Tripels, Farmhouse Saisons and Pacific Northwest-style IPA. Made from pure well water and imported hops, some brews are steeped with local flavours such as alpine honey, orchard fruits and foraged herbs.

A beer tap at the Lost Ridge Brewery.

A rhododendron saison was on-tap during our visit, and we also tried bottles of the pomegranate saison (my top pick) and a classic IPA. Experimental infusions are the work of Lost Ridge’s resident brewer, who hails from Tusheti and combines Tush beer-making traditions with techniques he learned in Seattle.

As it was February, we opted to eat dinner inside. Instead of ordering off the Fire Kitchen menu, we were treated to a banquet of not-so-small sharing plates, all recipes staff had been perfecting over the lockdown period: Cold cucumber soup with sunflower seeds, pickled nettle heads, olive tapenade with hazelnuts, hummus with roasted eggplant, acacia dressed with Kakhetian sunflower oil, milk dough bread, tabbouleh with pomegranate, and an inventive rendition of ‘meat pie’ – spiced mince wrapped in vine leaves.

Horse saddles sit on a wooden fence at Lost Ridge Inn in Sighnaghi.

Horseback tours

Lost Ridge Inn is a glutton’s dream – it’s worth staying here for the food and drink alone. If you’re eager to explore beyond the kitchen and brewery, the ranch has 15 horses, quality saddles and helmets at the ready. Rides accompanied by an English-speaking guide range from one or two-hour jaunts to longer expeditions.

The most obvious place to head to on horseback is Bodbe St. Nino Convent, which is just down the road. Depending on your interests, itineraries can be customised to include visits to local silk weavers and other artisans, small villages, vineyards and nature reserves. There are a multitude of historic churches and monasteries to see in the area, many dating back to the time of David Gareja and the Assyrian monks.

Multi-day tours around rural Kakheti departing from the inn can also be arranged.

A man pours white wine into a glass set on a wooden table amongst plates of colourful food.

Pheasant’s Tears Winery

One of the back trails that winds its way down the ridge leads to the Pheasant’s Tears Vineyard, located near Jugaani. This is one of the best places in Kakheti to do a wine tasting. The onsite restaurant, The Crazy Pomegranate, hosts events and can serve lunch or dinner on request.

Home to one of Georgia’s most prestigious natural wine labels, the vineyards here are extensive. Pheasant’s Tears is known for being among the first commercial labels to fully embrace traditional Georgian wine-making techniques, and everything they do is a homage to this heritage. On the ‘polyphonia’ field, 417 varieties of red and white grapes collected from around the country make up a living viniculture library.

Pheasant’s Tears was founded in 2007 by John Wurdeman and Gela Patalishvili. We were lucky enough to tour the vineyard with John, who walked us through the entire process from vine to qvevri. Later we tried half a dozen varieties of natural wine accompanied by yet another incredible array of food: Local cheeses, pesto, hummus, mushrooms, beets and my personal favourite, chvishtari ‘cheesy cornbread’ made with tomato juice.

Lost Ridge Inn, Pheasant’s Tears and Living Roots all operate in lockstep, underpinned by the same philosophy and quality of service. If possible, I highly recommend visiting Pheasant’s Tears and taking a horseback tour while staying at Lost Ridge so that you get a more complete impression of the inn and its ethos.

How to get to Lost Ridge Inn

Lost Ridge Inn, Brewery & Ranch is located in Qedeli, just over 100 kilometres east of Tbilisi. It’s preferable (but not essential) to visit with your own car. If you’re driving in from Tbilisi, take the unpaved turnoff before Bodbe St. Nino’s, following the signs towards Qedeli. Free parking is available onsite.

If you’re coming by taxi or marshrutka, travel to Sighnaghi first then take a taxi up to the inn for around 5 GEL. Find more details on how to travel to Kakheti from Tbilisi here.

Rooms start from 60 USD/night including breakfast. Reservations can be made through the Lost Ridge Inn website.

Find more accommodation suggestions for Sighnaghi, Telavi and beyond in my Kakheti Accommodation Guide.

More exceptional accommodations in Georgia

Georgia essentials

Here are some of the websites and services I use when I’m planning a trip to Georgia and the Caucasus. Remember to check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.

– Find affordable flights to Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).

– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Georgia and apply for an expedited visa online.

– Pre-book a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel or from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi with my preferred partners at Friendly.ge.

– Get a great deal on a rental car in Georgia by using MyRentACar to find a local agent.

– Buy your tickets for the Tbilisi to Baku or Yerevan sleeper train online in advance through my partners at Geotrend (get a discount when you use the code in this post).

– Find the best Georgia hotel deals on Booking.com, book a Georgia hostel, or find a unique Airbnb.

– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Georgia.

– Compare mobile providers and pick up a local Georgian sim card.

– Order a copy of the new Lonely Planet Caucasus guidebook (published July 2020).

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