Qvevri are the clay vessels used for making wines according to the traditional Georgian winemaking method. In western Georgia they are called churi. The earliest qvevri known to store wine date the early Iron Age (7th Century B.C.E.). It took some time for the qvevri to reach their current, standard shape, as initially they were wide in the middle and tapered at the base, and not buried. The shape of the “modern” vessel continued to evolve the 3rd century B.C.E., when producers began to bury them in the earth, first to their shoulders, and by the 4th century C.E., up to the neck. Modern qvevri range 800 to 3500 liters; the smaller ones are used for fermentation, the larger, for elevage. The clay qvevri are lined once before use with melted beeswax to render the interior inert, and to make them easier to clean. In 2013 UNESCO registered the Qvevri winemaking method on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Archeological excavations in western Georgia, notably in the ancient Imeretian town of Vani (6th -1st Century B.C.E), have unearthed ancient qvevri among numerous other wine-related artifacts. The exact origin of the qvevri/churi is unknown, but it is the centerpiece to all of Georgian winemaking historically.
Through the ages up until today, all home winemakers in Georgia have made wine in qvevri. During the 20th century, commercial use of qvevri declined as winemaking in this manner is quite labor intensive; they were viewed as inefficient. Today, however, a renewed interest in qvevri has revived this method of production, not just in Georgia, but around the world.