Hi Everyone 🙂
Good news, we hope; or at least interesting news.
As many of you have realized, we have been struggling with the challenges of qvevri production at scale and reasonable cost. This has been due in part because at the outset, we were more focused on preservation and dissemination of knowledge, part because we aren’t really a qvevri business and hadn’t thought that way, and part because back then we really had no idea there would be demand for actual qvevri beyond a few hardy souls willing to try something completely different.
So, after much wine and head-scratching, we have a plan. It doesn’t involve asking you for money or commitment 🙂
We are however actively soliciting your comments and opinions to provide a mechanism for production that is useful and fun, as well as at least covers costs and time. (We all actually have other jobs and families and such 🙂
What we are putting together is a full-scale kiln, based on Georgian design, in a twenty-foot container. It would therefore be “portable” as long as we can keep the weight under 8000 lbs.
In these uncertain times, it means we can keep the kiln going no matter what might befall any one of us.
More importantly for you, it might mean that in addition to actual 225 liter qvevri in quantity, we can bring the kiln to your vineyard (we need to talk about “portable” as we get farther from Texas) and provide a complex Georgian based experience to accompany your introduction of qvevri production.
Besides providing a demonstration of qvevri production on your site, including perhaps the firing of the kiln for your customers, we might be able to support even more exciting activities.
For example, it will be a small matter to include a complete Georgian kitchen within the dimensions of the kiln. We have contacts that might allow us to bring polyphonic choir(s) to your location to perform during dinner, or even provide small lessons to participants. Georgian dancing might be more challenging, but would be possible if it seems interesting to you. You could host either an afternoon/evening picnic style experience; or a delightful Georgian based outdoor dinner supra-style. Anything that would help you market your new product, as well as encourage an appreciation of the entire experience, which is what would matter to us.
Our goals remain the same – to promote the experience of qvevri production, introduce people to the Georgian culture in a fun and respectful manner and somehow try not to lose money 🙂
What we need from you is everything else 🙂
We want to try to reach a price point for ~225 liter (59 gallon) qvevri that is at least reasonable (they do outlast oak barrels by several hundred years :- ). We would love to see $3200 which is about twice the price of a new French oak barrel, but that brings up the next question(s):
What costs should we try to cover? One of our goals has always been to encourage actual research on the differences between qvevri wine and wine produced by current techniques. But research is expensive and this subject is not first on donors minds 🙂
What sizes should we be able to produce? 225 liters is a nice standard, but does that suit everyone’s needs? Should we start with one or two standard sizes and include the cost of scaling facilities for future sizes?
Is providing an experience on-site even interesting for you? Any idea what it would be worth to you? While we haven’t settled on actual designs, we probably wouldn’t be able to feed more than about 200 people at one go. What should that look like?
Do we need more than one “portable” kiln? Should we build in upfront costs to locate some of these outside Texas? Should those be crowd-funded?
Is it more important to have qvevri at the lowest possible price, or to be on a cycle of continuous improvement and better service?
Broadly, if this is interesting for you, what would you need to make it work?
Depending on your inputs, we might need to think of an actual organizational structure too :-). It would be great to hear whether we ought to just come up with an outright business, a “B” corp, or an NGO. Or some combinations or alternatives of those.
We aren’t uploading a survey monkey, or planning on trying to guide the discussion. We just want to hear from you. In fact, it would be ideal if the discussion took place between all of us, rather than just sending us an email with your thoughts, if you are willing.
One last note. “Throwing big pots” is a pottery specialty. Not everyone wants to do that, nor has the ability or facilities necessary to develop experience and technique. One of the biggest concerns in launching this unexpected phase is where we will find a supply of actual humans who want to regularly put hands to clay of this size. If you know of any such person(s) in or around Texas, or have any suggestions, we would be very happy to hear them.