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Wine’s Birth

As the last days of March tick away, I am reminded of the qvevri that we brought from the country Georgia. It is buried near the side of the house and has had a wine in it for the past six months. During the autumn, we kept the opening to the qvevri open during fermentation. After fermentation I sealed it with a lid that had an airlock in it. By the end of December, we sealed the qvevri and its contents with a solid lid and covered it with several inches of sand.

It slept for the past three months, undisturbed by humans. This week, Kathy and I are going to open the qvevri and experience our second vintage from it. While in Georgia we met numerous people. Many were rather poetic about life, country, religion and wine. It is not surprising that it is suggested that opening the qvevri in the spring marks the birth of the wine. Six thousand miles away from the ancient cradle of wine, we are looking forward to experiencing our wine’s birth.

To help celebrate the birth, we invited Nina K to help open the qvevri. We met Nina last year. Nina had an epiphany about Georgian wine while visiting Dadiani Old Cellar in Samegrelo, Georgia where she tasted a red wine made from the Ojaleshi grape. When Nina met us, we opened a wine we had received from the monks at Dadiani Old Cellar and enjoyed the Ojaleshi wine.

Nina was born in Georgia. She sent us a picture of her when she was a little girl. Notice the closed qvevri in the lower right. Although living in Georgia, Nina did not have the experience of opening a qvevri in Georgia to experience a wine’s birth. Her parents moved to Maryland when she was a teenager, and this week marks the first opportunity she has to open a qvevri thousands of miles from her birth country.

Nina K. while in the country Georgia, notice the qvevri in the ground in the lower right of the photo.

Nina K. while in the country Georgia, notice the qvevri in the ground in the lower right of the photo.

There is a bit of a risk opening the qvevri after not experiencing the state of the wine for a few months. Last year, Kathy and I were surprised to see grape skins gather at the opening of the qvevri. The wine was not at all clear. Later we learned that the wine was probably in a vortex all winter. I racked the wine to a carboy and it started clearing up within an day. We will be ready in case we need to do the same this year. Perhaps the word birth is an appropriate word for the opening of the qvevri and the wine’s next stage of life – bottling.


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