WHERE IS WINE FROM?
The earliest archaeological evidence of wine yet found has been at sites in China (c. 7000 BC), Georgia (c. 6000 BC), Iran (c. 5000 BC), Greece (c. 4500 BC), and Sicily (c. 4000 BC). The oldest evidence of wine production has been found in Armenia (c. 4100 BC), where the oldest winery to date was uncovered.
The altered consciousness produced by wine has been considered religious since its origin. The Greeks worshiped Dionysus or Bacchus and the Romans carried on his cult. Consumption of ritual wine was part of Jewish practice since Biblical times and, as part of the eucharist commemorating Jesus’s Last Supper, became even more essential to the Christian Church. Although Islam nominally forbade the production or consumption of wine, during its Golden Age, alchemists such as Geber pioneered wine’s distillation for medicinal and industrial purposes such as the production of perfume.
Wine production and consumption increased, burgeoning from the 15th century onwards as part of European expansion. Despite the devastating 1887 phylloxera louse infestation, modern science and technology adapted and industrial wine production and wine consumption now occur throughout the world.
Oldest Discovered Winery
Entrance to the Areni-1 cave in southern Armenia near the town of Areni. The cave is the location of the world’s oldest known winery and where the world’s oldest known shoe has been found.
The oldest-known winery was discovered in the “Areni-1” cave in Vayots Dzor, Armenia. Dated to c. 4100 BC, the site contained a wine press, fermentation vats, jars, and cups. Archaeologists also found V. vinifera seeds and vines. Commenting on the importance of the find, McGovern said, “The fact that winemaking was already so well developed in 4000 BC suggests that the technology probably goes back much earlier.
The seeds were from Vitis vinifera vinifera, a grape still used to make wine. The cave remains date to about 4000 BC – 900 years before the earliest comparable wine remains, found in Egyptian tombs.
This is what CNN wrote: “Forget France. It turns out, the real birthplace of wine may be in a cave in Armenia.”
Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave: James Owen from National Geographic News quotes archaeologist Gregory Areshian of the University of California, Los Angeles: “The site gives us a new insight into the earliest phase of horticulture—how they grew the first orchards and vineyards”. “It’s the oldest proven case of documented and dedicated wine production, stretching back the horizons of this important development by thousands of years,” said Gregory Areshian, co-director of the excavation and assistant director of the University of California Los Angeles’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
Mosaic depicting grapes and wine with Armenian inscription in Jerusalem
Wine found in Armenia is considered to be at least 6100 years old.
The fame of Persian wine has been well known in Ancient times. The carvings on the Audience Hall, known as Apadana Palace, in Persepolis, demonstrate soldiers of subjected nations by the Persian Empire bringing gifts to the Persian king.
Apadana relief representing their sovereign to Persian king with their gifts, wine and horses, that Armenia was famous for, Armenia being one of the Satrapies of the Persian Empire
Detail of a relief of the eastern stairs of the Apadana, Persepolis, depicting ambassadors of a subjected nation bringing their famous wine to the Persian king.
Domesticated grapes were abundant in the Near East from the beginning of the early Bronze Age, starting in 3200 BC. There is also increasingly abundant evidence for winemaking in Sumer and Egypt in the 3rd millennium BC.
Legends of discovery
Wine (mey) has been a theme of Persian poetry for millennia.
There are many etiological myths told about the first cultivation of the grapevine and fermentation of wine.
The Biblical Book of Genesis first mentions the production of wine following the Great Flood, when Noah drunkenly exposes himself to his sons.
Greek mythology placed the childhood of Dionysus and his discovery of viticulture at the fictional and variably located Mount Nysa but had him teach the practice to the peoples of central Anatolia. Because of this, he was rewarded to become a god of wine.
In Persian legend, King Jamshid banished a lady of his harem, causing her to become despondent and contemplate suicide. Going to the king’s warehouse, the woman sought out a jar marked “poison” containing the remnants of the grapes that had spoiled and were now deemed undrinkable. After drinking the fermented wine, she found her spirits lifted. She took her discovery to the king, who became so enamored of his new drink that he not only accepted the woman back but also decreed that all grapes grown in Persepolis would be devoted to winemaking.