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Making Qvevri Wine: Putting Grapes into the Qvevri

During the morning we helped to harvest Rkatsiteli grapes. By mid-afternoon, the load of grapes arrived at the winery. The protocol at Twins Wine Cellars at Napareuli was to destem the grapes. The stems would be discarded and the destemmed grapes and juice would be pumped to a qvevri. While destemming, some of the grapes’ skins would break releasing the juice. Because of the size of our qvevri, we could not directly pump into our qvevri.

The juice and grapes were pumped into a large qvevri. Once the qvevri filled to within 18 inches of its opening, I was able to put a bucket in a scoop out the juice and grapes. Our bucket held between two and three gallons. It took eight bucket loads to pour into our qvevri. I think we have a minimum capacity  of 80 liters, since we left several inches of headspace for the fermentation.

No yeast was added to the grapes and juice in the qvevri. The fermentation would begin with natural yeast in a couple days. I did ask several winemakers about stuck fermentation. They said it just doesn’t happen in qvevri. Considering that grapes have been grown in Georgia for 8,000 years, there must be plenty of natural yeast on the skins.

Cheers,
Terry

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