Since approximately the sixth millennium BCE wine has been made with Qvevri, huge clay pots built to contain hundreds or even thousands of litres of liquid. Traditionally, these enormous vessels are filled with juice, sealed with beeswax, and buried in the earth in order to provide the fermenting juice within a cool and stable environment in which to ferment.
The unique conical design of the huge vessels also helps to sift debris down to the point at its base. For this reason, wine made in a Qvevri typically requires no further fining or filtering. The ceramic material of the Qvevri also offers another benefit. It imparts virtually no flavor to the wine during fermentation, allowing all the subtleties in the fruit to be highlighted.
The country of Georgia in the Caucasus region of Eurasia has the oldest tradition of Qvevri wine-making in the world. But even there the future of the Qvevri depends largely upon the traditional skills of a handful of aging artisans. Thus it is only the continued international demand for these unique vessels and the remarkable wines which they produce that keeps this ancient wine-making tradition alive.
From the Vineyard