Clay amphorae are believed by many to be the first tanks ever to hold wine—historians have used documents from Georgia (formerly in the USSR) to verify that winemakers have used this ancient practice for more than 4,000 years. In contrast to this ancient technique, today's Friulian winemakers have embraced vinification equipment like stainless steel, temperature controls, and barrique. Indeed, Josko Gravner helped pioneer the use of these tools. However, the iconoclastic and ever-changing Gravner has taken on a new "old" approach—that of using amphorae. Contradiction? No. Experimentation? Yes. The relentless passion for perfection through experimentation changed Gravner’s philosophy, for he was among the first to combine bio-dynamic winemaking with a more traditional, nonintrusive style in this white wine epicenter.
Gravner is a proponent of the use of open-top wood vats and extended maceration on the grape skins, while he eschews added yeasts, sulphur dioxide, and temperature control—in short, he supports purely natural winemaking. Gravner employs both amphorae and large oak barrels to make his wines." The grapes for these wines come from his 18 hectares of vineyards in Gorizia (Oslavia) that straddle the Italian-Slovenian border. It is here that he exercises his current approach to wine. Gravner avers, "I am convinced that wine is a product of Nature, not of Man, whose role therefore is to accompany its maturation process while avoiding any artificial intervention." Every bottle of Gravner’s wines is a testament to the pure beauty of that philosophy.