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.
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 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.