I wrote yesterday that we filled the qvevri to within two inches of the top or surface of the marani. Big mistake! In going to punch down early Saturday morning, I discovered that the fermentation was rather robust and juice and a few grapes escaped from the qvevri. Actually it was quite a bit of juice. The grapes had massed at the surface of the qvevri and after punching down, I had about four inches of space. We lost about 51/2 cups (1.3 liters) of juice. Minutes after punching down, the grapes rose up again gaining back two of the four inches after the punch down.
I should have known better. One of the Georgian winemakers commented that his grapes had overflown the qvevri during fermentation. A half hour after punching down, I had to punch down again since the grapes had risen to the surface of the qvevri. The next idea was to rack a litre of juice out of the qvevri and place in a small glass container with an air lock. We noticed that it was fermenting in the glass container. Once fermentation slows down, this will be returned to the qvevri.
Removing some of the juice helped. Initially the punch downs were five hours apart. That changed last evening. I had to punch down every three hours. Sunday morning arrived and I punched down at 3:00 am, 6:00 am and 9:00 am. At least I know it is fermenting and I am not loosing any more juice/wine.