Ceramic Wine Pots




  Volute Krater used for mixing wine with water

4th century BCE


 Georgian wine pots of antiquity


When it comes to wine, I now very little about tasting notes or wide palete, but two things I know is that the ancient Greeks had an amazing array of different vessels for the storage and consumption of wine, and Georgian viticulture goes back 8000 years. Just like the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans used the clay pithos and amphorae for their wines, the Georgians to this day still use the clay “qvevrie” for wine production. Wine cultivation is deeply entrenched in the Georgian culture, and the traditional qvevrie is used for making, ageing and storage of their wine and part of that process involves burying it beneath the ground for optimal temperature, fermentation and ageing. Almost every single farmer and also a majority of city dwellers in Georgia are wine makers.
The basic technological process consists of pressing grapes in a Satsnakheli (wine press), pouring the grape must and the “chacha” (grape skins, stalks and pips) into a “Qvevri” (the mixture fills around 80-85%), filling, sealing the “Qvevri” and leaving the mixture to age for 5-6 months. The skinless variety is buried in the ground up to 2 years. The egg shaped qvevrie promotes a natural convection of the internal fluids.
Unesco is considering adding the qvevri method to their world heritage list to preserve the craft as their are only a few good qvevrie makers still active. The favoured “Kakhetian” method creates a unique golden coloured wine. One of their favourite wines is the Tsistka, which has apple blossom and wild herbs mixed in during production.


Large qvevri wine pot. Georgia

 Huge qvevri coil built wine pot  – Georgia, Europe

Judging by the cart next to the pot, it is maybe 18 feet in height. .




Qvevri pots in monastery floor

The traditional method of wine-making continues to live in the centuries old monasteries.




Qvevri pot cleaning in Georgia

Cleaning qvevri pots




Monastery qvevri wine pots

Qvevri pots at the Georgian Telavi Monastery




kvevri pot in Georgian park

 A discarded pot from a park wino?




Burying a Georgian Qvevri wine pot

 Lowering a qvevri pot into a pit.





glexi-qvevri wine tasting

 Qvevri wine connoisseur




Citroen carrying a qvevri pot in Georgia

 Qvevri pot transportation




Qvevri pots in a Georgian vineyard

 Go forth and multiply




Kverkis Old georgian wine pot

A Georgian ancestor  with a giant qvevri




Georgia kvevri pots drying

 Qvevri pots in production




Wine at the monestary - Kakheti,-Georgia

Kakheti, Georgia-  Gremi, the royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels, famous for its qvevri wine.



Ancient Greek Wine Pots


The wines of the ancients were a symbol of fertility, immortality, and divinity and had a reverential regard. Wine consumption wasn’t purely indulged in for ceremony or drunken revelry. Testing of ancient pots has revealed, from residues, the presence of medicinal herbs like myrrh, pine resin, and other substances like honey which contained anti-bacterial or even antiseptic properties.It was a standard practice to coat the inside of a wine amphora with propolis, a resinous sealant made by bees, which also had a medicinal reputation. The mixing of wine with water in a ratio of 1:4 was more then likely for the purpose of making the water safe to consume. There is much evidence of the popularity of volute kraters which were used for this purpose. Both the Egyptians and Chinese developed herbal remedies using wines which acted as solvents to break down and extract the active ingredients and this pharmacopeia was passed down through time to the Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. Initially in the ancient Mediterranean, wine was primarily drunk by the wealthier classes, but by the Roman period, it was cheap enough for it to become a pastime of the masses.




apollo cup white-ground kylix;-Greek,-480-70-BCE

 Apollo cup white ground kylix – Greek





Apulian Red Figure Squat Lekythos with Aphrodite and Eros---4th-Century-BC

 Italian Red Figure Squat Lekythos with Aphrodite and Eros

4th CenturyBC




Bacchus Roman God of Wine Dionysus

Dionysus –  Bacchus Roman God of Wine




Black Figured Amphora_(Jar) With a Frieze of Dancing Satyrs and Maenads

 Dancing Satyrs and Maenads on a Black Figured Amphora

Made in Athens between 540 – 510 BC. Attributed to Painter N, and signed by Nikosthenes the potter.

British Museum





Ancient Greek Pottery - Rhyton with Dionysus---the god of wine

 Ceremonial rhyton held by Dionysos




Epichysis, or wine vessel,  from the Apulia region of Italy depicting a reclining nude Satyr.

Arthur Erickson



earthenware platter with Pomona,-goddess-of-gardens-and-orchards


This earthenware platter, influenced by the work of ceramist Bernard Palissy, illustrates the rustic and formal aspects of a French garden with Pomona, goddess of gardens and orchards.




Blue statue of Bacchante with grapes' - a tribute to Bourdelle by Jean Mayodon

‘Bacchante with grapes’ – a tribute to Bourdelle by Jean Mayodon



Terracotta  tankard  Cypriote

1400-1350 BCE


Etruscan terracotta oinochoe-(jug)-in the form of a woman's head,-late-4th-century-BCE-mharrsch-flickr

 Etruscan terracotta oinochoe (jug) in the form of a woman’s head, late 4th century BCE





Greek, Attic, red figure terracotta kantharos (drinking cup with high-handlesca.-490-480-B.C

 Greek red figure terracotta kantharos (drinking cup with high handlesca )

Attic, 490-480-B.C

Glenn Gulley – Flickr



Greek amphora, National Archaeological Museum of Athens, showing the goddess Athena

Large Greek amphora, , showing the goddess Athena

National Archaeological Museum of Athens




 Volute Krater – Canosa, Italy



Greek civilization, 7th centuryB.C.-Geometric style pottery.-Oenochoe decorated with figures of goats, fallow deer and ibex.-From Rhodes,-Greece

Geometric style pottery.-Oenochoe decorated with figures of goats, fallow deer and ibex.-From Rhodes, Greece

7th century B.C.




Lucanian Volute Krater by the Creusa Painter-380-370-BC

 Lucanian Volute Krater by the Creusa Painter





 Rhodian  oinochoe with wild goats, bulls and geese

Museum Of Fine Arts Boston




Egyptian fresco depicting wine production

 Large Egyptian wall painting of wine production





Ancient Greek Pottery Statuette of a Siren

 Ancient Greek Pottery Statuette of a Siren – known for luring drunken sailors.


Other wine vessels of interest



 A toast-to-magnum ceramic wine fermentation vessels

 A toast to the Magnum slip cast ceramic wine fermentation vessel.

Byron Bay, Australia

Inspired by Natural Selection Theory, “Project Egg”, and in deference to the astonishing work of Josko Gravner and the great Georgian tradition of making wines in clay “Qvevri”,

Flow Forms





Magnum wine vessel internal circulation

Internal flow patterns of the Magnum wine vessel

 Constructed with 12mm thick walls. The iconic “egg” shape promotes passive convection within, allowing developing wine to “live and breathe”. The geometric shape is derived from sacred geometry.


Amphora-SML-&-Duncan Cape Ponit vineyards

 Huge amphora – Cape Point Vineyards, ZA





Ewer with calligraphy, Iran

10th century




China bronze old man winebibber god statue wine pot-2010

Chinese statue of a wine drinker




 Contemporary carafe/jug – Cody Hoyt

Patrick Parrish, 1st Dibs


Ellison Bay Pottery goblet

Goblet -Ellison Bay Pottery – etsy



Ewer with dancing females within arcades-6th-7th-Century-AD-Sasanian,-Iran-The Metropolitan Museum

Ewer with dancing females within arcades

6th-7th Century AD, Sasanian, Iran

The Metropolitan Museum ,NY



 1950’s French tripod ceramic wine cooler

Patrick Parrish, 1st Dibs



Farsta-Terra-Spirea-Cup-by Wilhelm Kåge-Sam-Kaufman-1stDibs1957

Farsta Terra Spirea Cup by Wilhelm Kåge – 1957

Sam Kaufman-1stDibs



Mark Shapiro,--Wide Oval Flask with Handles

Twin handled Wide Oval Flask – Mark Shapiro



Vintage Scandinavian Ceramic Decanter

 Mid Century Scandinavian decanter




Central America, Mayan goblet,-classic-late,-600-900

 Mayan Goblet -600-900AD




Italian ceramic decanter Raymor Fantoni mid_century

 Marcello Fantoni mid century ceramic decanter




Round form pitcher byJavier Sevrin

Large hand painted round decanter – Javier Sevrin, Mexico



Calebasse palm wine vessel – Tikar, Camaroon



Blue Iranian wine ewer

Iranian wine ewer 




Majolica Wine Flask  – Bottega di Guido Durantino







Wine Cistern – Francesco Durantino, Italian,





Italy,-Emilia-Romagna,-Ceretolo,-Oenochoe,-(or-oinochoe,-wine-jug )

Oenochoe (wine jug)  – Emilia Romagna

Ceretolo, Italy



Lushan ware suffused glaze porcelain wine pot-Tang-Dynasty

Lushan ware suffused glaze porcelain wine jug – Tang Dynasty





‘Meditrina’ Roman Goddess of Wine Bronze Sculpture





Alcora faience wine jar






White Ground Lekythos, Achillies painter,

c. 440 – 430 BCE, Sicily, Italy



 60’s Russian ram decanter





Carafe marcello fantoni

Tall Raymor Fantoni Caproni carafe/pitcher



Vintage-ceramic Bellhop-German-Decanter in red

Vintage Bellhop ceramic decanter, Germany




Gold  ceramic goblet with three grotesque gargoyles – Royal Dalton





Carafe – Reg Preston





John Percival goblet


The Tao of the Grape


Wine, by virtue of its sour taste is ruled by the ‘Wood’ element. The clay vessels are ruled by the Earth element. These two elements are highly compatible. Whereas the wooden barrels are more discordant, as wood on wood clashes. The liver is also ruled by the wood element, which is why it isn’t really harmonious with wine consumption (along with the chemicals in play ) The ancients used sweet, bitter and pungent herbs to temper the sour taste. All factors considered, the traditional organic Georgian wine should be less prone to provoking a hangover. I’m curious to try some organic Georgian brew to put that theory to the test.



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  1. Posted December 7, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I really enjoyed reading this article and found it fascinating to learn that the Georgians are still making wine with this ancient tradition and, from what you describe, still making the quvevri – do you have photographs or links to any sites which show how the pots are made, and importantly fired as they are so HUGE! I too, having read this piece, would now like to try the wine.
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful knowledge – I also loved seeing all the photos of other ancient wine-related vessels. Makes you think about wine in a whole different way.

  2. robbie
    Posted December 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I believe the qvevri are coil built, here is a useful link http://blog.lescaves.co.uk/2013/06/27/of-qvevri-and-chinuri-part-2-feats-of-clay/

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