I’ll never forget one of the germinal lessons about wine: Hugh Johnson standing over a qvevri, a very large clay amphora, taking a sip and saying: “it’s quite nice.” He was talking about wines in Georgia, formerly of the USSR, where supposedly winemaking originated 8,000 years ago. Wine is still fermented and aged in these qvevri buried in the ground.
Flash forward to last year when I brought a group of wine lovers to Croatia where two wineries have adopted the ancient techniques from Georgia, and in fact import their amphora from Georgia, where they are still made by a hand full of qvevri makers.
From all of this came an addition to my bucket list: to visit Georgia and to experience first-hand what Hugh Johnson experienced 30 years ago. So all of our ‘modern’ techniques: wood barrels, cement tanks or eggs, stainless steel- the precursor of all of these was the ancient clay qvevri.