The mineral springs of the Borjomi Gorge were discovered over one thousand years ago. Seven large rock tubs discovered in the early 20th century and dating back to the beginning of the 1st millennium AD attest to the availability and use of the spring waters, most likely for bathing rather than drinking purposes. Later on, the springs fell into long oblivion, and their location has been abandoned.
Surprisingly, it were the military who breathed second life in these springs: in 1829, when the Kherson Grenadier Regiment was quartered in Borjomi, Russian soldiers found a mineral spring in the forest on the right bank of the Borjomka River. Intrigued by the discovery, Colonel Pavel Popov ordered that the springs be cleared and that the water be bottled and transported to the regiment’s base. After tasting the water, the colonel was so impressed that he ordered the construction of rock walls around the spring and a bathhouse built nearby, along with a small cottage house for himself.
Kherson grenadier regiment
In 1837, when the Kherson regiment was replaced by a regiment of Georgian grenadiers, the regimental doctor Amirov began to examine the composition and effects of the spring water, sending the first samples of water to Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
By 1841, the healing effects of Borjomi water became so famous that the Viceroy of the Russian Czar in the Caucasus named this spring Yekaterininsky after his daughter Yekaterina and the second spring, discovered and cleared by that time, Yevgeniyevsky after himself.
In 1850, a mineral water park was opened in Borjomi and in 1854, construction of the first bottling plant went underway.
Borjomi’s Mineral Water Park
In the meantime, the fame of the curative spring water spread all over the Russian Empire. Borjomi began to grow, and the authorities began building new palaces, parks, public gardens and hotels. The commute from Tiflis to Borjomi usually took 8-9 hours by horse-drawn phaetons, but the new Khashuri-Borjomi railroad built in 1894 significantly reduced the length of the journey. In 1894, Grand Duke Mikhail Romanov built a bottling plant in Borjomi’s Mineral Water Park which continued to operate until the 1950s, duly bottling the water which by that time became famous all over the world.
Borjomi’s Mineral Water Park
The first glass factory was opened in 1896, where bottles were blown manually up until 1950.
In 1904, the Borjomi production process became partially mechanized. The glass was still blown manually, but the bottling process was handled by machines. A newspaper ad came out the same year, announcing the “sales of Borjomi mineral water in railroad carloads”. The bottling operations were by now in full swing: while in 1854, only 1,350 bottles of water were produced, by 1905, after mechanization of the production process, the number had reached 320,000 and by 1913 had exceeded 9 million bottles.
The establishment of Soviet rule in Georgia did not diminish the popularity of Borjomi. Only the elite and status of vacationers have changed: the Romanovs gave way to the Soviet Union’s top leadership, who also favored this water. Not a single event has ever been held at the Kremlin without Borjomi.
The “thaw” of the 1960s gave Borjomi another chance to gain recognition abroad. In 1961, 423 thousand bottles of Borjomi were exported to 15 countries of the world, including the United States, France and Austria. During the 1980s, Borjomi sales volume has reached 400 million bottles, making this water brand the most popular in the Soviet Union.
In 1990-1995, the production has drastically declined due to economic stagnation in Georgia. But beginning from 1995, when Georgian Glass & Mineral Water Co. N. V. restarted the bottling of Borjomi, the production output began to rise, and today, people in more than 40 countries of the world enjoy this rich gift of Georgian nature.
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