From the perspective of most Americans wine is a Western institution, but molecular archaeology and DNA mapping indicates that “Vitis Vinifera” the domesticated form of grapes likely originated from south of the Caucus mountains between the salty Black and Caspian Seas. If this is true then wine originated in the East. Along with grapes, grains, plums, figs, mulberries, walnuts, apricots, pomegranates, almonds and other common crops were possibly domesticated here.
The diversity of grape varieties and modes of production found in Transcaucasia are quite different from those of Europe and the New World, and older by millennia. Nowhere more so than in present day Georgia where a Renaissance of hyper traditional wine making is underway. Most notably this relates to the resurgent fashion for making wine in Qvevri. It was in one of these massive wood fired terracotta vessels that grape seeds more than 8,000 years old were discovered in what is present day Georgia.
While Georgia offers many wonderful wines made in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels the wines that have most captured the imagination of wine makers and lovers globally are those made in Qvevri. Though buried these vessels are quite porous allow for oxygen exchange and are almost, if not, impossible to render biologically inert. We would argue that it is the relationship between the wine and the microorganisms in the qvevri that the best Georgian wines derive their character from.