Since the sixth millennium BCE superlative wine has been made with Qvevri (pronounced ‘kwevry’), those huge clay pots built to contain hundreds or even thousands of litres of liquid. The enormous vessels are filled with juice, sealed with beeswax, and buried in the earth to give the fermenting juice within a cool and stable environment in which to mature.
The conical design of the vessel also helps to sift debris down to the point at its base. It is for this reason that wine made in a Qvevri typically requires no further fining or filtering. The ceramic material of the Qvevri also imparts virtually no flavor to the wine allowing all the subtleties in the fruit to be fully highlighted.
The country of Georgia in the Caucasus region of Eurasia has the oldest tradition of Qvevri wine-making in the world. Here the future of the Qvevri hangs precariously upon the skills of a dwindling community of aging artisans. Only increased international demand for these unique viticultural vessels and the remarkable wines they can produce will keep this ancient wine-making tradition alive.