Traditional winemaking in qvevri

Qvevri Wine in Georgia

Winemaking in Georgia began 8,000 years ago. Earthenware jars were the first vessels in which to conduct fermentation. This ancient technique lives on in the form of the qvevri, a large, egg-shaped terra cotta container which is planted up to its neck in the floor of the winery. The local clay from which the qvevri is made, its shape, and the natural temperature control all contribute to the final outcome.

UNESCO & Qvevri

UNESCO has identified the qvevri as part of Humanity’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. In 2021, the qvevri was awarded its own Protected Geographical Indication. Capacities vary from 100 to 3,500 liters. Lisa Granik MW, in The Wines of Georgia, suggests 1,000 to 1,200 liters may be ideal…

The Uniqueness of Qvevri Wine

Winemaking in a qvevri, whether for red or white wines, is conducted along similar lines and relies on naturally occurring yeasts (rather than added cultures). After the grapes are crushed, the juice, skins, stems, and pips are transferred to the qvevri, which is then sealed. To include solids of this sort may be broadly typical of red wines vinified in tanks following international methods, but it is exceptional for white wines. As a consequence, qvevri whites take on much darker colors and degrees of tannin from lengthy contact with skins and stems. This is the origin of amber or orange wines, as these whites have come to be called. Some examples are strikingly dense in color, perhaps even cloudy, and have assertive flavors and degrees of astringency unfamiliar to most wine drinkers.

Chonguri Qvevri style

The qvevri white wines of Chonguri, on the other hand, are brilliant to the eye, more subtle and nuanced, with fresh, clean aromas, hints of dried fruits, and greater delicacy. Red qvevri wines may not vary significantly in appearance compared to standard red wines, yet they possess greater complexity than their non-qvevri equivalents, along with added subtleties. The best way
to understand the refined Chonguri style is to taste the qvevri wines of the Heritage Collection.