Clay and wine – the origins

Many in Italy think that theuse of clay for winemaking is rooted in ancient Greece, and that maybe wine production is above all an Italian tradition. How can one forget the magnificent films about Ulysses drinking wine from the clay amphoras?

In reality, the making, ageing and storing the wine has its origins in nowadays Georgia. Wines were kept in the qvevri, egg-shaped earthenware vessels, and then they were sold to the merchants of Magna Graecia. Eventually, they sold the wine amphoras to the ancient villagers of Tuscany, the Etruscans. The Etruscans would then reproduce this technique in Italy.

The uniqueness of the Georgian tradition of wine and clay is so important that UNESCOhas listed qvevri winemaking as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The qvevri wine tradition has passed onto generations. Qvevri has been the centre of religious celebrations, everyday feasts and, today, the unique bond between wine, clay and history.

amphora wine qvevri ceramics terracotta clay

Why clay and wine?

Clay is a material easy to obtain, and terracotta is its transformation. Clay is versatile, economic and eco-compatible. Clay has accompanied humanity in all its actions, above all commerce. In fact, if olive oil, petrol, grains, flours were all preserved in clay pottery, why not using it for wine?

With wine, clay expresses a new function, beyond wine storing. In other words, clay gives its flavours and soul to the wine preserved in it. In fact, clay pottery can be compared to the function of a barrel – it isolates wine and at the same time clay lets it breathe.

ceramiche romane antiche fermentazione vino

Curiosities about clay and wine

terracotta wine experience clay vineyard
  • The return to clay use for winemaking is a fact in Italy and in the rest of the world, above all thanks to the new environmental awareness and for the exclusive usage of natural products for wine production.
  • The most ancient wine clay pottery in Italy has been found in Sicilyat Kronos mountain. It is more than 6 thousand years old. The oldest wine clay pottery in the world was found is in Georgia in 2017, and it is more than 8 thousand years old.
  • The most ancient non-pottery “still drinkable” wine in the world is 1,696 years and it is in the Historical Museum of Palatinate in Germany.
  • As a further curiosity, the most ancient non-wine clay pottery traces found are in China. Scientists have found traces of an alcohol made of rice, honey and fruits. It is more than 9 thousand years old.

Go local: a wine and clay experience for you

As group of wineries near Rome, we want to share with you a unique experience to reproduce pottery and to taste wine in it. We have collaborated with Marco Carpineti winery, one of the most famous wineries in Italy.

You will be able to mould your own clay pottery with the artisan and artist Martino Antocchiand taste the amazing amphora-fermented Nzù wine by Marco Carpineti.

Nzù is a three-year-old wine and it is available in its two indigenous varieties, Bellone(white grapes) and Nero Buono (red grapes). Nzù has been awarded with many rewards and Marco Carpineti is on the Hugh Johnson’s pocket wine book 2021.

Background to this fabulous experience is Cori, quaint Roman-Mediaeval town a few steps from Rome and Ninfa Gardens.

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marco carpineti vigna biodinamico con il cavallo
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This post is also available in: Italian