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Brief History of Wine - From 4100 BC to now!

#winehistory #wine #wineeducation

TfT blog post 18/05/2017

History of Wine

 

From the first “company” in 4100 BC to the conquer of the world: how wine has colonized the world

 

The origins of wine are so ancient that they are wrapped in legend. Some of them trace its origins even to Adam and Eve, claiming that the forbidden fruit of Eden wasn’t apple but succulent grapes. Someone else reports that Noah invented wine and decided to take it on board his ark to save it from the Universal Flood.

 

What is sure is that the story of wine is deeply intertwined with the story of mankind and its spreading all over the world, from the Mediterranean Sea to the most remote lands (with the exception of Antarctica).

 

The origins of wine

 

The earliest archaeological evidence of wine consumption is to be found in China (7000 BC), Georgia (6000 BC) and Greece (4500 BC), while the oldest evidence of wine production date back to 4100 BC in ancient Armenia, with what can be considered the oldest winery to date.

 

It’s 3100 BC when the pharaohs in Egypt begin producing a wine-like substance from red grapes to use during religious ceremonies. At that time they come in contact with the Phoenicians who play a key role in wine history: it would be the Phoenicians who would cultivate vines and start to trade wine across the Mediterranean, including the Middle East and North Africa. During their travels the Phoenicians come in contact with the Jews, who began to use wine to mark religious ceremonies (Click here for the TFT What makes Kosher wine Kosher article).

Exposed to wine by the Phoenicians, the Greeks begin to perfect the beverage around 800 BC. With them for the first time wine becomes a symbol of health and faith, with a god named in honor of wine: Dionysus. As the Greeks conquer new colonies, they bring grapevines with them: first Sicily and southern Italy and then Rome.

 

The Romans were wine enthusiasts: they create their own god of wine (Bacchus) and make wine an essential part of their culture. As the Roman Empire expands across Europe, vineyards are introduced in Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and other countries of Central Europe. In the meantime the Romans adopt Christianity, where wine is a central part of the sacrament.

 

Wine reaches the New World

 

With the discovery of the New World and the start of colonization, wine is brought to Mexico and Brazil by the Conquistadors, spreading across South America also thanks to the Spanish missionaries.

Wine arrives in America for the first time thanks to the French Huguenots in Jacksonville, FL. Cultivation starts in Virginia too but the production stops shortly after due to the wine low quality and the colony’s Puritanical roots.

Wine conquers California in 1769 when Spanish missionary Junípero Serra opens a mission in San Diego bringing with him grapes and the art of making wine.

 

Wine Colonization of the Rest of the World

 

When the Dutch East India Company gets its hands on South Africa, there’s a need of wine to supply the sailors: vines are

planted and wine production begins in Cape Province.

 

In 1787 the fleet leaving the UK to reach Australia to establish the penal colony stops in South Africa. During their stop they pick up grape cuttings to plant in Australia: wine production starts to flourish in the Continent “down under” too. At a later time Busby, a British living in Australia considered to be the father of the Australian wine industry, imports Australian grapes to New Zealand, establishing New Zealand’s first vineyard in 1836.

 

Wine’s conquer of the world is almost complete. When France takes control of Algeria in 1830 they start replanting vineyards once planted by the Phoenicians and then stopped by the Islamic. When the French resign control in 1962, it’s the beginning of a long decline for wine production.

 

Starting from the 1980s the Chinese economy opens to the world under the government of Deng Xiaoping and French wine is imported for the first time, followed by the French who settle in China as local partners to plant vineyards. Nowadays, with the boom of China's middle and upper class, the nation has turned to be one of the world's largest wine consumers and producers. 


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