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An Early History of Winemaking

Winemaking is actually a natural process which doesn't, in fact, require any human intervention. For basic wine to exist all that is needed is for the juice of a ripe wild grape (or fruit for that matter) to come into contact with airborne yeast and there you have it - the perfect gift for early man: "pass me a handful of that special fruit we found Dear Boy, and while you're about it I'll have that juicy bone too, not to mention your wife". 


Given that wine can be made from a number of different grapes it seems likely that in some very crude form it was around pretty much from day one. Grape juice ferments quickly, and wine can be made from wild grapes in little more than a day or two thus making it possible that ancient nomadic tribes could have made it on the hoof, so to speak. And as the Vitis Vinifera grape is the most suitable for winemaking, it seems very likely that this pleasing activity first got a bit popular south of the Black Sea where this grape species is believed to have originated and early man was kicking about around 7000 BC. When animal skin containers gave way to pottery around 6000 BC it became a lot easier to get drunk. Of course this is not very far from where, according to the Bible, Noah planted a vineyard and became the first winemaker just after the flood. Good grapes you see - that's what it's all about.

Anyway, Dun Roamin', more of the race finally decided to settle down, gave up being on the go the whole time and started to grow figs, dates, olives and vines. This was the time of the first cultivated vineyards around 4000 BC. From around the Black and Caspian Seas cultivation spread west to Egypt and the Aegean where the Minoans of Crete got involved and by the Bronze Age wine presses were in use all over the place. Of course the ancient Greeks knew a good thing when they saw it and when Pythagoras wasn't stalking lazy parallelograms on Mount Olympus, the old boy was getting ratted on a potent local brew. But it wasn't the Greeks who introduced viticulture to Italy - that was down to the Etruscans who had occupied the western half of central Italy and were on the go from the 8th century BC until they got shoved out by the Romans in the 4th Century BC. It was the Greeks who got it all going in France though - colonists who founded Massilia (Marseilles) around 600 BC finally put France on the wine map - better late than never for some, as they say.

Of course, once the Romans had the stuff, they spread it all over the place through the empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries.

And the rest, as they say, is history...


Date: 07/08/2017 | Author: Theo Sloot