1. It is clear that the origin of wine is still ultimately unknown. However, evidence of grape pips and leaves show that the areas of the Caucasus had people either collecting grape berries for consumption, or for drinking wine. Since wine can be made naturally, it is almost impossible to directly link one specific place or people as being the pioneers of viticulture and winemaking.
1. The Phoenicians helped with the spread and propagation of the vitis vinifera species from its wild origins of the middle east. Not to say that there wasn’t species of grape vine elsewhere in the Mediterranean, only they helped with the knowledge of its propagation.
1. Note: The Greeks had a connection with the ancient Egyptians due to the Minoans in Crete having a close trading relationship, and it’s suspected that this is how knowledge was spread to Greece. The other alternative to this spread of knowledge was via Asia Minor and Thrace, and eventually into Greece.
The emperor Domitian made it forbidden to plant any more vineyards after the 79 AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii as, due to a shortage of wine, vineyards were planted everywhere that was physically possible. They even ripped out grain fields in favour of vineyards, which caused a food shortage to Rome. This edict lasted almost 200 years (Foulkes, 2004,Dominé, 2000).A sign that Pompeii was revered is the use of stamps of Pompeian wine merchants on amphoras, proving it was popular (Dominé, 2000).
Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus was the first to liftDomitians vineyard ban to ensure his troops in the northern and eastern provinces were supplied with wine. This helped with the spread of viticulture into these areas, especially along the Rhine and the Danube in Germany and Austria where the wars with barbarians mostly occurred, and where the border of their empire was at this time.
Liam's mediterranean trade
By Liam Greatbatch
• The Mediterranean area has been the hub of winemaking for
more than 6000 years.
• Areas of Georgia and the Caucasus being the earliest evidence
of nomadic peoples ‘discovering’ wine.
• This area of the middle east is where the grape vine grows
The Phoenician Wine Trade
• Historians believe after discovery of wine, cultures in around
the Mediterranean started to see its value as a trade
• Phoenicians (1550BC – 500BC) developed a maritime trading
culture that engulfed the Mediterranean coasts; Through
trade they brought knowledge of viticulture and winemaking.
• Had influence on many places at the time to introduce or
encourage viticulture, including Egypt, Greece, Italy, Spain,
Algeria, Lebanon and Tunisia.
The Phoenician Wine Legacy
• This extensive trading of wine led to the winemaking knowledge
beginning to settle in the new homelands of Phoenician families,
such as Cyprus, Malta and Carthage.
• Vineyards were planted to supply the local wine market and limit
the cost of long distance trading.
• The knowledge became as valuable an export as the wine itself.
Phoenicians were capable of planning vineyards according to
favourable climate and topography.
• They also spread the use of stackable amphorae (often known as the
"cananite jar") for the transport and storage of wine.
• Respected by Greeks and Egyptians alike, contemporary writers
deemed them as skilled viticulturists and winemakers.
Fig. 1: This map displays how successful peaceful sea trade can be, and how
wine knowledge covered large distances by the Phoenicians throughout the
The Spread of Knowledge
• Ancient Egyptians expand knowledge of viticulture and
• They developed methods of pruning and an early grape press.
• The Nile Delta also proved a successful wine trading route
from inner Egypt to important trading centres in the
Mediterranean like Crete.
• The spread of knowledge from
Egypt to Greece would have
occurred via this trading route.
The Spread of Knowledge
• Once ancient Greece had acquired the tools for viticulture and
winemaking, ideas were spread throughout its region.
• Islands such as Chios, Lesbos, Rhodes and Thasos saw a
viticulture boom, and even gained a respected winemaking
• Chios in particular, coined the “Bordeaux” of the ancient
world, exported wine to distant lands, such as Egypt and
Changes in Societies
• The rise in the Mycenaean culture saw wine taking on a more
cultural, religious and economical purpose.
• The Famous “Linear B” tablet talks of an early ‘Dionysus’ wine
god, also wine merchants and vineyards.
• The Greeks developed the cult of Dionysus, and had a group
dedicated to wine, having wine-induced celebrations.
• All these changes drove wine trading, as it was sought after by
cults, royalty and doctors alike.
Conquest, Colonisation and
• Through Greek conquest of territories, areas of southern Italy,
Sicily and southern France (Rhône Valley) see viticulture
• Southern Italy coined the status of Oinotria, or “wine land” by
the Greeks and the Roman arrival enhances viticulture in
• Romans turned viticulture into a fully
developed branch of trade managed
according to economic criteria
Fig. 2. The Mediterranean during Greece’s archaic era. In par with Phoenician
trading routes, and the soon to be Roman empire, viticulture and winemaking
spreads like a plague.
• The Phocaean Greeks founded the port city of Marsallia
(Modern day Marseille, see Fig.2), a port that provided inner
France with winemaking knowledge.
• The great port of Pompeii is proof that the trade of wine
brought prosperity, even having a reputation for ‘quality’ wine.
• It became a wealthy city, that included both a theatre and
amphitheatre. Pompeii was known for exporting to far-off
• By the end of the Roman Empire in the west;
• the Wachau
• Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône Valley
• and La Rioja regions had become the centres of the wine
industry, as they are still today.
The End of an Era
• The disintegration of the Roman Empire had a profound effect
on wine trade.
• Spain saw viticulture reduced significantly due to the Arab
conquest, and the enforcement of Islam.
• For Italy, wine went from a large economic and social role, to
being purely subsistence farming activity for people in rural
The Wine Renaissance
• The collapse of the Arab rule in Spain, and the end of the
English rule in Bordeaux led to an opportunity in trade once
• The rise in Christian France saw regions of Burgundy and
Bordeaux see an influx in wine production and trade.
• Monks and Monasteries keep the wine trade alive during the
dark ages, by having large vineyards, using wine for religious
purposes and selling wine in order to obtain more income for
• The Phoenicians, the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and the
Church all played important roles in the Mediterranean wine
• The wine industry is very ancient, and the way it has survived
to be the way it is today is a testament to its greatness.
• The legacy of the Romans has left us with the successful, and
much sought after, regions of Bordeaux and Rioja etc,
something that the drive of trade caused significantly.
• Amerine, M., Singleton, V. (1977). Wine. History of the Grape and
Wine Industry. University of California, Davis. University of California
Press, ltd. London, England. Pg. 9 – 25.
• Dominé, A. (2000). Wine. The Mediterranean Countries. Könemann
Verlagsgesellschaft mbH. Bonner Strasse 126, Cologne. Pg. 722.
• Duchêne, R., Contrucci., J. (1998). Marseille and its history. Fayard,
France. Pg. 42.
• Foulkes, C. (2004). Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine. The History of
Wine. Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd, London. Pg. 21 – 26.
• Johnson, H. (1989). Vintage: The Story of Wine. Simon and Schuster.
Pg. 18–43, 61–86 & 106.
• Robinson, J. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.) Oxford
University Press. Pg. 141, 520 & 714.
• Seward, D. (1979). Monks and Wine. The Wines of Other Orders.
Mitchell Beazley Publishers Ltd. London. Pg. 111.
• Stevenson, T. (2005). The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia. Dorling
Kindersley. Pg. 318.