History of Wine Making

Learn where wines come from

The history of wine making probably begins with the history of civilization itself.  The earliest known wine production may have been in the region of Iran as long ago as 6000 BC, and there is evidence of domestication of the vine in the Near East from around 3000 BC.

Certainly there was wine made in the times of the expansion of the Greek empire, some thousand years before Christ.  It appears that wine making spread to Italy, North Africa, and France.

Wine was revered by the Romans who may have been the first to seriously age wine in barrels rather than relying on earthenware amphoras like the Greeks.  It seems likely that the Romans introduced the vine to Gaul, the region which is now France.

All the early developments in the history of wine making were in river valleys, the natural lines of communication which the Romans cleared of forest and cultivated.  They found that vineyards had a settling and civilizing effect on the population, and boats were ideal for transporting wine which was heavy.  The river water was also a source of irrigation for the grape vines.

Following the Roman Empire’s demise the dark ages are not well chronicled, but when civilization became re-established during the middle-ages, it was the church that nurtured the vine and had the influence to maintain vineyards as wine took on religious significance.

Wine became an established part of upper class society, and fashions saw the rise and fall of different styles of wine.  The history of wine making took a turn late in the 17th century.  It was discovered that wine in a bottle with a tight-fitting cork, lasted much longer than wine in a barrel, once the barrel had been breached.  The discovery of the cork for sealing bottles and preventing air entering, other than in minute quantities, led to the practice of keeping wines for longer and longer periods.  It became apparent that some wines even improved by being stored in this manner.

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