Egg heads for wineries

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THE old adage is that form follows function.

If this holds true then the wine produced in the giant egg-shaped ceramic containers produced by Phil Sedgeman of Byron Bay will be remarkable.

Mr Sedgeman, a master craftsman, is producing the unique vessels for a group of independent wine makers known as the Natural Selection.

The eggs are modelled after the ancient wine fermentation containers known as qvevri, used by Georgian winemakers almost 8,000 years ago and still used today.

The qvevris carry 675 litres of wine and they are the largest slip-cast containers he has ever made.

They are often buried in different types of soil to produce different flavours in the wine.

“The wines are famous for their taste which is achieved almost without the use of chemicals or preservatives,” said Mr Sedgeman.

“The egg shaped design of the qvevri promotes convection within the egg.

“This allows the contents to slowly circulate through natural movement which the winemakers say allows the wine to live and breathe.

“The ceramic containers also have the property of micro-porosity which helps the wine ferment just as it does in an oak barrel.”

Mr Sedgeman began the project in 2010, custom building the manufacturing equipment and the kiln needed to fire the qvevris to a porcelain-like finish

Each one sells for $5,150 and the new wine stays in the container for 3-6 months.

“The wine industry is very competitive and companies are always looking to develop a niche market and some are going back to the very early methods of making wine.

“I have had the wine myself; it is a nice rounded wine without preservative.”

Mr Sedgenman’s company also produces flowforms, a water treatment and mixing device used in Biodynamic agriculture.

He has so far sold 12 of the qvevris and is gearing up to go into full production with several wineries interested in the technology.

“Clay is a beautiful material to work with,” he said.

“It uses the four elements of air, earth, fire and water.”