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The Prehistory of Wine


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Intro to Wine Business Assignment 1

Intro to Wine Business Assignment 1

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  • 1. 6000BC – 0AD
    The Prehistory of Wine
  • 2. The Ancient Vine
    Man vsVine
    The Discovery of Wine
    Wine Spreads
    Early Oenolgoical and ViticulturalSciences
    The Birth of a Culture
    The Birth of an Industry
    The Journey Ahead…
  • 3. Vitis species are indigenous to regions right across the earth – Asia, Eurasia and America.
    Vitacaea (the Family which the modern grapevine belongs to) seed and leaf fossils have been found in these areas, dating 50 million years. The fossils have remarkable similarities pointing to an older common ancestor .
    Climatic differences resulted in a number of wild Vitisspecies evolving :V. labruscaand V. rotindifolia(America);V. amurensis(Asia;) V. viniferaand V. sylvestris(Eurasia).
    (McGovern, 2003)
    The Ancient Vine
  • 4. As prehistoric man moved out of Africa, he would have encountered the wild grape vine as he reached Eurasia, and grapes were likely to have been foraged asa part of his diet.
    Although the wild grapevine was indigenous to a large part of the world, archaeological evidence would suggest that it was not utilised as a significant food source in the Americas or Asia.
    (Diamond, 1997)
    Early Interactions Between Man and Vine
  • 5. There is no date in history or one particular event that one can pinpoint as the time when grape juice was fermented to produce wine. Fermentation is a process that can occur spontaneously if grapes rupture and juice becomes exposed to yeasts living on grape skins.
    Early man may have discovered gathered fruits at the bottom of a basket which had crushed under the weight of the other fruit, to differ in flavour and to have a mildly intoxicating effect!
    (Pellechia, 2006)
    The Discovery of Wine
  • 6. A popular ‘wine discovery’ tale, tells of a Persian King who stored fresh grapes in jars so he could enjoy them at his discretion. When some of the jars turned ‘bad’, he had the liquid in them labelled as poison. One of his harem, feeling blue, drank this poison in attempt at suicide. The ‘poison’ relaxed her, and she awoke in the morning to find her troubles had left her. Wine had been born!
    Although a popular story, the reality of this theory is rather dubious and unsubstantiated!
    (Pellechia, 2006)
    The Discovery of Wine - Legend
  • 7. Archaeologists have discovered wine residues on ceramic jars in modern day Georgia which date to 6000BC.
    (Keys, 2003)
    In nearby Armenia, the oldest known ‘winery’ was recently unearthed, dating to 4000BC. A rudimentary press was found as well as skins, seeds and dozens of dried vines. This is significant as it suggests that at this time the grapevine had been domesticated.
    (Owen, 2011)
    The Discovery of Wine (with evidence)
  • 8. (Image souced:
    A 6000 year old winery.
  • 9. The mythical ‘discovery story’ as well as archaeological evidence centre around the Caucasus (where Europe meets Asia).
    The convergence of several factors allowed for wine production in this area. Cereal crops provided food reserves for communities allowing them to settle and cease their nomadic ways. Wild V. viniferaprovided grapes, and around 6000BC the invention of pottery provided vessels for making, storing and serving wine.
    (Diamond, 1997; Standage, 2005)
    The Discovery of Wine
  • 10. From its birth in the Caucasus, knowledge of winemaking techniques spread west to Greece and south through Levant (the area corresponding to modern day Israel, Syria and Lebanon)to Egypt.
    Vineyards were established in the Nile delta around 3000BC, although the climate was unsuited to large scale production, and wine was often imported (at huge expense) from Levant. As such, in Egypt, wine was a drink reserved only for the Egyptian elite.
    (Standage, 2005)
    The Spread of Wine
  • 11. Vines were cultivated in Greece and Crete around 2500BC. The Mediterranean climate was much more suitable for viticulture than that of Egypt’s. Vines were grown along side other crops including olives, and figs, and these trees provided support for the climbing vines.
    The scale of wine production increased and consumption became more widespread amongst the masses. So much so that in 800BC, all of the members of the Assyrian royal household (>6000 people) were allocated a daily ration of wine .
    (Standage, 2005)
    The Spread of Wine
  • 12. In 800BC the Greek academic Hesiod provided detailed writings on vine pruning, harvesting and pressing of grapes.
    Around this time further viticultural advances included the growing of vines in rows, trellised on stakes. This improved yields and quality of grapes (and thus wine).
    (Standage, 2005)
    Another Greek academic, Theophrastus wrote on the use of lime and gypsum as wine additions for deacidificationin 400BC.
    (Caley, 1956)
    Early Wine and Viticultural Science
  • 13. With huge increases in production, wine itself was no longer a drink reserved only for the elite. What became more important was what type of wine you were drinking became more important. Wine connoisseurs, who could articulate the subtle differences between different wines were recognised.
    Individual regions became associated with a certain style of wine, and these regions began to ship their product in specially designed vessels so that consumers could be sure that they were getting the ‘real deal’.
    The relationship between wine age and higher levels of quality was established.
    The Birth of a Culture
  • 14. For the Greeks, civilization and wine were synonomous. The symposionbecame central to Greek life. Men would sit together and drink wine from a communal bowl (the krater) while talking of politics, poetry, and punani.
    Wine drunk at these symposia was always diluted with water to delay drunkenness.Legend had it that only Bacchus, the god of wine could drink undiluted wine without slipping into madness.
    (Standage, 2005)
    The Birth of a Culture
  • 15. The Symposia
    Image sourced:
  • 16. A kraterc.1200BC
    Image sourced:
  • 17. The Roman Empire overtook the Greeks as the dominant force in the Mediterranean in the second century BC, and adopted many of their ways: their alphabet, clothing fashions and wine culture. Pliny the Elder remarked “the vanquished have conquered us, not us them”.
    The Romans transplanted vines from Greece to the Italian peninsula – a place with a climate equally suited to the production of wine, and by 146BC Italy became the worlds largest wine producing region.
    (McGovern, 2003; Standage, 2005)
    The Birth of an Industry
  • 18. The cult of wine continued its development under the Romans. The differences between varieties and between wine producers was recognised.
    Precursors to appellation systems as certain regions wines became highly valued
    At convivium(lavish Roman feasts) different classes of wine were served to different people depending on their status.
    (McGovern, 2003; Standage, 2005)
    Roman Wine Culture
  • 19. The glass bottle was invented. The screw was used to improve the wine press.
    The use of wooden barrels to impart flavours into maturing wine was developed
    Herbs were also added to wine to impart flavour, and these types of wines were often used for medical purposes.
    (McGovern, 2003)
    Roman Wine Culture
  • 20. The demand for wine throughout the Roman Empire became so great that wine production became a commercial enterprise: the subsistence grape farmer became displaced by larger Estates with slave labour forces, and other food crops such as grains were pulled to make way for new vineyards
    Wine was shipped from Italy in large volumes to places as distant as Northern India.
    (Standage, 2005)
    The Birth of an Industry
  • 21. By the time BCs became ADs, V. viniferaand V. sylvestrishad been successfully domesticated by man, translocated to parts of the world where environmental factors favoured its growth.
    Different varieties had been identified, trellising systems were used, and production was very much at an industrial scale.
    Winemaking practices such as screw presses, wine ‘adds’, barrel maturation and the use of glass vessels were in place.
    The foundation for the modern wine industry had been laid down.
    To Conclude….
  • 22. Diamond, J. (1997).Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton: NY
    Keys, D. (2003, 28 December). Now that’s what you call a real vintage: Professor unearths 8000 year old wine. The Telegraph on Sunday. Retrieved August 5th from
    McGovern, P.E. (2003). Ancient Wine: The search for the origins of viniculture. Princeton University Press: New Jersey
    Owen, J. (2011). Earliest known winery foun din Armenian Cave. National Geographic. Retrieved August 5th 2011 from
    Pellechia, T. (2007). Wine: The 8000 year old story of the wine trade. Running Press: London
    Standage, T. (2005). A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Walker and Company: New York
    Theophastrus. (1956). Theophrastus on Stones: Introduction, Greek Text, English Translation, and Commentary (Ed. Caley, R.E). Ohio State University: Columbus, Ohio