Sealing Qvevri for a Long Winter’s Nap

Sealed with a glass top, with a sample of the qvevri wine

I waited to the last day of December to seal the qvevri and cover the area with several inches of sand. We had a very warm December with 29 of 31 days recording above average temperatures. Ten of those days, temperatures were in the 60s and 70s (15º -21º C). Previously, the qvevri was sealed with a plexiglass top with an airlock in the top.

Removing the temporary top I noticed a couple inches of wine over the cap. I decided to sample the wine. The wine had a yellow to gold color and was crystal clear. The aroma was very floral, reminding me of spring floral bouquets. There were floral hints on the taste, but most striking were the jammy yellow fruits including nectarines, peaches and yellow raisins. The wine was crisp with just a hint of tannins. I wouldn’t mind filtering and bottling now, but I want to follow the traditional Georgian protocol from the Kakheti wine region and leave it in the qvevri until March or April. It will be interesting to note the differences two to three months will have with the wine in the qvevri buried underground.

Qvevri covered under several inches of sand

After placing a coil of clay around the opening of the qvevri, I sealed the qvevri with a permanent glass disk by pressing it down into the clay. Looking through the glass, I observed the clay pressing up against the glass. I made sure that the clay pressed against the glass around the circumference. Afterwards I covered it with several bags of sand. Then I placed a marble block over the opening. Just to be on the safe side, I covered the area with a tarp. The qvevri and wine will now rest for the winter. Depending on our weather, I will either open the qvevri at the end of March or beginning of April. Since I had the grapes in the qvevri a month earlier this year than in 2014, I may open the qvevri in March. That will allow the grapes and wine six months in the qvevri.


grape: Rkatsiteli
sourced from:
Horton Vineyards, Virginia by way of Bluemont Vineyards
Primary fermentation: September 28th – October 8th
Qvevri sealed: December 31st.


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