While today’s modern winemaking methods have become a true science, enabling winemakers to produce near-perfect results from their yields, there’s still value in looking back at age-old methods in search of a little more character of flavour. Family-owned Avondale Estate is one of the few wineries in South Africa to experiment with old-school clay qvevri winemaking pots in their cellar and we can’t wait to taste the fruits of their labour very soon!

A leading biodynamic wine estate, this experimentation with the egg-shaped earthenware vessels is another step towards Avondale’s journey into sustainable organic viticulture and natural winemaking. The concept of fermenting wine in qvevri (pronounced kwe-vree) pots originated more than 8000 years ago in Georgia, which today is widely regarded as the cradle of modern viticulture.avondale wines qvevri pots

After having been inspired by the use of qvevri in a Georgian village in the Imeretian Mountains, Avondale’s winemaker, Corne Marais, along with the help of the village’s qvevri master, Nodari Kapanadze, came up with a plan to bring the winemaking method to South Africa.

The qvevri technique has recently become hugely popular on the natural winemaking scene, and Kapanadze (the qvevri master) now has a waiting list of two years for the clay pots!

avondale wines qvevri potsAvondale is currently using 23 qvevri made by Kapanadze’s family-run business in the village, which each hold between 800 and 1000 litres. The first grapes to be used in the experiment are from a late-ripening harvest of Chenin Blanc, and the team also plans to test out Rhône variants in the future.

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