Wine is one of mankind’s oldest beverages. In fact, you could even argue that wine is one of our oldest inventions over all. It has a storied past, stretching from our modern vineyards all the way back to before recorded history. Read on to see how winemaking has changed since its beginning…
It’s extremely likely that humanity’s first instance of winemaking was completely accidental. While there are conflicting ideas, some archaeologists believe that ancient humans may have stored berries and come back a few days later to discover they had fermented. The first hard evidence for deliberate wine production started showing up around 6000 to 4100 BC: archaeologists discovered pots, crushed grapes, and other evidence at several sites dating to around that time period. At an Armenian site (dated at just about 4100 BC) they discovered a press, fermentation vats, jars, and other instruments – many archaeologists believe this is the earliest known example of a full-blown winery.
By the time written history began, winemaking was already playing a big role in several human cultures. In ancient Greece, for example, wine was a major export thanks to several species of grape that are unique to that area. Later the Roman empire would build upon the Greek’s success and perfect the art of winemaking – with many of their innovations still in practice to this day. It wasn’t just the Mediterranean having all the fun, however – Egyptian hieroglyphics shows that they too had a thriving wine export, mainly doing business with the civilizations of the ancient middle east.
The Middle Ages
Medieval times saw the rise of winemaking in Europe. It more southern regions where grapes grew more abundantly, it was a common beverage that all social classes took part in. Unfortunately this didn’t necessarily hold true for the North, where wine had to be imported at great expense more often than not. However, thanks to certain Catholic rites requiring its use, no region in Medieval Europe was ever completely devoid of wine.
It was this relationship with Catholicism that allowed for winemaking to travel across the Atlantic to the New World. Missionaries, conquistadors, and other explorers would bring wine to the Americas with them to perform the Mass and other rituals. New World wine production began in earnest in the warmer middle America region (in what is now Mexico) and slowly spread from there in to the thriving industry we know it as today.
These are just a few brief highlights – the history of winemaking is deep and sophisticated, much like wine itself. I encourage all who are interested to dive deeper in to wine’s story on your own – you’ll quickly discover that its history is irrevocably tied to our own in more ways than you can imagine.