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Qvevri Wine
About Us
Vintage technology in qvevri

Many people enjoy the taste of wine without having any idea about its origin and history, its personal and deep philosophy, and outspread all over the world. Some people believe that Greece is the place of wine birth and some believe it is Rome, but according to scientific and archaeological evidence, these statements are incorrect.

The basic written source "The Oxford Companion to Wine" (Jancis Robinson, 1994) argues that the history of the wine tradition begins in the fertile villages of the South Caucasus at the moment it is the territory of Georgia, "Seeds of cultural grapes (which differ in form from a wild grape seeds) dated back to 6000 years BC were found in Georgia…(Rod Philips, 2001 Wien short history, London)

  • At that time the ancient people of South Caucasus discovered the way to the mysterious transformation of wild grape juice into wine, keeping it buried in earthen vessels called qvevri. Knowledge of this storage method has been slightly developed and perfected over the centuries.
  • Qvevri - in the Transcaucasus a ceramic ware, resembling an amphora, but without handles. It has a conical shape and is used in the production of wine. Qvevri varies in size  - from the ordinary to the huge jug, for a few hundred liters.

Qvevri is buried in the ground up to the neck and put grapes in it, often with grape stalks. During active fermentation, under the influence of carbon dioxide gas, pomace cap rises up to the neck of the jug, and when the fermentation is over, and the gas comes out, it sinks to the bottom and qvevri is sealed until spring. So in areas where qvevri is stored with marani wine (cellar), wine matures and draws on pomace (i.e., grape skins, stalks and pips) within several months. In spring vessels are opened, the wine is racked off and drunk.

The described method was called Kakhetian –according to region of Eastern Georgia, where it is used from the beginning of time.

It originates in Kakheti (Eastern Georgia), where the cultivation of grapes and production of wine is the most widespread. This region remains a center of Georgian wine making. Alazani valley is the most famous winemaking region of Kakheti. It locates  at a height 800 m above sea level and its length is 110 m. The main river is the river Alazani. The unique geographical location and excellent soil create unique conditions for grapes cultivation.

Discovered in Georgia's oldest earthenware of qvevri type refers to 6-5 thousand BC. Existing today shape of qvevri was formed in the 3-2 millennium. Small qvevris were used prior to this period, having a height of 1.5 meters, a flat bottom and a wide belly. Currently, egg-shaped qvevri are widely used.

The most ancient qvevri was found on mountain Hrami- its age is referred to the 6th century BC . "Younger" qvevri was found both in Eastern and Western Georgia. Despite the general principles of use, the west (kolkhi or churi) and the east (Iberian) qvevries differ from each other by form, process of manufacturing and decorative design.

Capacity of qvevri - from a few liters to several tons. In Kakheti you can find a very large qvevri, a bowl with a capacity of 6-9 thousand liters. The widely used type of qvevri contains 1-2 tons.

Georgian pottery extends back over millennium, but, unfortunately, today qvevri is made only in Kakheti, Guria and Imereti. The famous place of qvevri-making is Vardisubani, village in the Eastern Georgia, the only village where people has been plying since ancient times. Today, there is made qvevri with a capacity of 2-2,5 tons.

To determine the period of infusion of wine on chacha (grape skins, stalks and pips), grape variety, the time of alcoholic fermentation, natural conditions, etc. are very important. On average, red wine held in qvevri only during alcoholic fermentation; it may be 7-10 days, a maximum of 2 weeks. White wine on chacha can be left in qvevri until spring.

Long infusion of white wine on chacha adds a dark -straw, golden or tea color, it is transparent, characterized by fruit tones and a moderate tannin content, is stable.

Clay for making qvevri contains limestone admixed with precious metals: gold, silver and copper. Limestone, reacted with tartaric acid, on one hand, strengthens the vessel walls, and on the other hand, it acts as a natural antiseptic. For wine, where there are about 400 species of bacteria, it is very important. At average, it is necessary 3 months for qvevri-making. Most of the time is given to its molding and drying. After making, qvevri is placed in a special oven, where the most difficult stage of the firing begins.

In qvevri, burrowed in the ground, the temperature does not change and constantly maintains 13-15°C necessary for wine fermentation. Before the start of the wine fermentation it is necessary to stir it often, 4-5 times per day. At the end of the fermentation, grape seeds, chacha and pulp sink to the bottom. Under pressure grape seeds are covered with sediment and thereby separated from wine.

In general, in the 19th century, European wine production technology was introduced in Georgia. In Soviet times, especially in 1960-1970, the Georgian wine production technology in qvevri was practically lost, many qvevries were destroyed and buried in the ground.

Over the past 5 years there has been a revival in the production of qvevri wine. In Georgia there is the demand for such wine. As for the other countries, the Georgian wine made in qvevri sold in countries where there is a segment of the high-quality wine, made according to the exclusive, traditional method. Such countries are France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany, with a high culture of wine drinking. This wine is often sold in boutiques amounts to USD 15-45 per bottle.

In contrast to other methods used in winemaking, wine is made by Kakhetian method on full chacha in qvevri (husks of grapes): the result of it is a fabulous bouquet. Made wine is darker and with more tannin content. Tannins - a naturally- occurring polyphenols, found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit peel.  Tannins give the wine bitter taste and astringent sensation – an astrigency.

At the same time, tannins give the wine complexity. They are felt by middle part of the tongue and the front of the mouth.

There are studies on the effect of wine and tea tannins on the oxidative processes in the body. Tests have shown that wine tannins prevent them, and tea - no. So, wine tannins are very useful. Useful properties of tannins:

  • Antibacterial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • astringent
  • blood-stanching
  • tie toxins and poisonous salt of heavy metal

Qvevri wine confidently takes its place on the shelves of wine shops around the world. It differs by inscription on the label and production technology, from planting the vine and ending with the finished wine bottling. Grape for wine must be grown in an ecologically clean environment. This concept implies the natural growing conditions- suitable climatic zone, the soil must not be exposed to chemical influence for at least 3 years prior to planting vines. Fertilizers - only naturally (vegetable origin- bevel weeds or ash of seaweeds are welcome). Such fertilizer is enough, given the fact that the owners of these vineyards choose the quality rather than quantity, and do not aspire to extract the most of the vines, impoverishing it. In addition to the entire above, manual labor is mainly used in such farms.

Raw materials processing technology also excludes the possibility of using the chemicals injurious to health. The process of vinification is done not only without colors, flavors, but the special yeast is necessary for it. The resulting wine is bottled under nitrogen atmosphere (usual- in oxygen). An important consequence of this technology is the minimum content of sulphites (necessary as preserving agent for secondary fermentation prevention) in a ready product.

Organic wine contains a lot more preserved vitamins and minerals than general.

Wine is useful to use to improve metabolism, salt metabolism. The wine produced in qvevri contains far more of these substances stimulating carbohydrate, nitrogen and mineral metabolism in humans.

Wine use reduces the risk of radiation in the body. Qvevri wine is rich in vitamins and micro- elements. Micro-elements: manganese, magnesium, iodine, titanium, cobalt, potassium, phosphorus, rubidium. Vitamins: C, B, PP, acids, Biosyn essential oils, esters and aldehydes.

All these substances tone body and reduce pressure. Anthocyanin pigments, coloring wine, have antibiotic properties even in low concentration. In wine from qvevri there have been found elements that act as traps for harmful molecules produced in the human body in the process of nutrition.

Moderate consumption of wine strengthens the arteries, lowers blood cholesterol, prevents cardiovascular disease, and slows down the aging process of tissues. Residents of areas of Western Europe with developed wine production have strong immunity to the alcohol pathology.

Qvevri wine has tonic, diuretic, antistress, antiallergic action on human body. Dr. Mori, working at one of the largest Paris clinics, often mentions the words of Louis Pasteur: "Wine is the healthiest, most hygienic drink in case of controlled drinking”.

Qvevri wine in Georgia is called “milk for old men”. In the medical world there is known so-called Mediterranean phenomenon. The Georgian traditional cuisine is challenging, its recipes use products high in cholesterol, it would seem, the population is doomed to suffer from cardiovascular disease, but the opposite occurs, the Georgians stay well. Qvevri wine, as mentioned above, contains substances that contribute to the blood clearance from cholesterol, and in case of regular use literally washes the blood vessels.

At the end of 2011, the Georgian qvevri was recognized as an object of cultural heritage of national importance and is related to the intangible cultural heritage of the country; also the authorities of Georgia appealed to UNESCO to include the method of winemaking in qvevri in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, and on January 9, 2013 it was  entered in the list.

Georgian traditional earthen vessel for wine storage -Qvevri-was placed in the courtyard of the UN Office in Geneva on March 1, 2016. According to the Ministry of  Foreign Affairs, qvevri was made in the village of Makatubani in western Georgia to mark the 70th anniversary of the  UN foundation. The potty vessel contains Georgian and English inscription "Georgia".