The oldest wine vessel
Qvevri – the oldest known clay jar for fermentation and storage of wine. Mystical and practical at the same time, the oldest sample of this vessel dates back to VI millennium (8,000 years) – as the oldest sample was found in Dangreuli Gora in central Georgia. This is the oldest and undivided part of winemaking most interestingly still a living tradition in Georgia. Georgians still ferment and store their wines in these vessels. Since 2012 Qvevri is protected by the government of Georgia as one of the oldest known non-material heritage of the state. In 2013 UNESCO awarded the qvevri winemaking method as a non-material human heritage monument status.
Form and size of Qvevri
Any Qvevri has Egg-type spire-bottom narrow neck and the flat circle-like head. All of these vessels have a tip or a spire at the bottom. Practical meaning of this spire is to keep qvevri in a vertical form when berried in soil. Qvevri volum: from several hundred litres up to 8,000 litres, however qvevris are most frequently 1-2 thousand litres capacity.
How are qvevris made?
Qvevri is always made of raw clay extracted from clay-rich soils. It takes 3 months to make it and it only can be handmade. There are no ways of mass production of this vessel. Qvevri is slowly built by qvevri-maker and as soon as it is completed it is burnt in a special oven. After the heat of fire turns it into a red qvevri is ready for exploitation.
How is qvevri used?
Qvevris are berried in soil in order to keep the temperature during fermentation as well as storage around 13-15 degrees Celsius. Chemical processes taking part in qvevri leads to the natural filtration and formation of crystal-clear wines. Substances such as metals naturally existing in clay also influence the process of fermentation and preservation of wine in qvevris.
Producing wines in qvevri does not only mean using this vessel instead of the oak barrels or stainless still. Qvevri wines are made with active skin contact where fermentation is followed by natural filtration of these wines. After self-filtering, wines are separated from skins and placed in new qvevris and hermetically closed for storage. Technology of qveri winemaking in Georgia differs from region to region. Kakheti
(Eastern Georgia) qveri wines are fermented with long involvement of all pips and skin of the grapes crushed. Imeretian qvevri wine fermentation involves only part of those pips and skin (usually 1/3) and therefore are lighter than Kakhetian qvevri wines. Qvevri wines today are produced by many Georgian wineries, but local village wine producers is most widely known. Last years some innovative wine producers of Italy and France started producing wines with this oldest known winemaking method of the mankind.
Qvevri as a ceremonial attribute
Georgia also has a special type of Qvevri known as monastery qvevri, it is also known as Zedashe. There is also wine that caries the same name Zedashe – also used for religious ceremonied. Meaning of this qvevri is liked with pre-Christian religious traditions part of which merged with Georgian culture and ethnography and is actively applied even nowadays. In mid and late bronze age qvevri was also used as a sarcophagus, having an important part in ceremonial burial of those days.
Relation of Qvevri to QUEEN TAMADA
Qvevri is a core of the logo of our Company. Indeed we are proud to carry this unique vessel as a part of our logo. It should be logical that Georgian Qvevri wines are actively introduced in out wine tour programmes – We belive that nothing introduces Georgia better than Qvevri.