Kvevri – Wine Making in an Earthenware Jar 6000 B.C.

When did man meet the vine and start making wine? It happened long, long ago.

Archaeological evidence indicated that wine making has been around at least 8,000 years. Ancient clay pots, known as Kvevri, have been found in the Transcaucasus region. There are villages in the country of Georgia where wine making today is done in the ancient traditions.

The winemakers would prepare for harvest by hollowing out a tree trunk and acquiring a large clay jar that could hold 2,000 to 2,300 gallons of wine. This vessel was called a Kvevri. Many have been discovered in recent years.

The grapes were placed in the tree trunk and people would climb in to stomp their fruit in the crushing process. Making wine was a group effort just as it is today.

The large vessel was lined with bees’ wax to seal the interior walls and base to make it airtight which helped to protect the wine from spoiling. It was buried deep in the ground with the opening rising just above the ground surface.

The crushed grape pulp, pips, stems and juice were poured into the Kvevri though the large round opening at the top of the vessel. The mixture was stirred and then sealed with a lid. The grape mixture was left to ferment from six to 12 months. If you travel to the area, you will find this same wine making method used in small villages in Georgia.
When the wine makers chose the moment, the lid was removed from the Kvevri and the wine ladled into pitchers and jugs for home consumption just as it is today 8,000 years later.

And what do the Georgians call this elixir? GVINO! Perhaps this is the origin of the word wine.

By Libbie Agran


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