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Oldest winery? How about 6,100 years ago?

After my previous post on weird wines, and that “calabash” gourd wine / beverage container, I wondered what we know of about the oldest wines…or the first known wineries.

California Grapes rd

Field of grapes – California

I found an article from the Wall Street Journal about a fairly recent archeological find — an Armenian winery — with “well-preserved remains of crushed grapes, seeds and vine leaves, dating to about 6,100 years ago—a thousand years older than other comparable finds”.

Further, the article notes that “no one knows exactly who invented the biotechnology of grape wine. In northern China, villagers made fermented rice wine as early as 9,000 years ago.”

Link to full WSJ article –  Perhaps a Red, 4,100 BC, here, and excerpt below:

On three pot shards, researchers from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, found a residue of malvidin, a pigment that gives grapes and wine a dark red hue.

The ancient seeds belonged to a domesticated grape variety, known as Vitis vinifera vinifera, that is still used to make red wine today, the team reported.

It looks like this cave complex was used during the Copper Age as a cemetery and a place of ritual,” said UCLA archaeologist Gregory Areshian, who was co-director of the excavation effort. “The production of wine could be related to those rituals.”

The find, funded by National Geographic and to be reported Tuesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science, is evidence that the quest for a decent red may be as old as civilization itself. The team involved archaeologists from the U.S., Armenia and Ireland’s University College Cork.

“For this time and period, it is a very surprising discovery of advanced large-scale wine production,” said biomolecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern, of an authority on the origins of fermented beverages at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the project…

In California, the first recorded planting of a vineyard  was in the year 1683, by the Jesuit Missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino at San Bruno.  However, the mission was abandoned about a year and a half after its founding, so it is unlikely that the grapes were ever  mature enough for a harvest.

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