Most of you know that I teach wine classes to all types of wine students. From beginner to professional Sommeliers. This week, I was preparing my class presentation for a review of the history of wine. While I learned this for my Sommelier certification, it is not something that I spend a lot of time reviewing, or even discussing. So, I thought I'd give you my abbreviated version of the history of how wine made it to California (no, wine grapes are not native to our continent).
|Vitis Vinifera Sylvestris|
These first wines found their way south into the Mesopotamian cultures, and is even mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a story from the Sumerian culture dating to around 4,000 to 3,000 BC.
The Greeks expanded their trade to the southern reaches of Oenotria (now Italy), by colonizing Sicily, Cyrpus, and continental Italy. It is with the Greeks that we are introduced to Dionysus (the Greek god of wine) and also Hippocrates (the father of medicine), who "prescribed" the consumption of wine to cure all sorts of conditions.
Christianity was the next step in the evolution of wine, as it became a key ritual representing the blood of Christ. Unlike Bacchus and Dionysus, the Christian approach to wine was in moderation.
The monastic movement grew dramatically after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, but its' largest expansion was led by Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor, around 800 AD. His interests in the vine were focused on the Rhone and Burgundy regions of Gaul (France). The two most influential orders were the Benedictine and Cistercian monks. They kept meticulous records, and their viticultural studies and advances were extensive. Under the monks, the vine moved all over Europe.
Cultivation in Mexico began around 1520, with plantings of the Criolla Grape (also known as the Mission Grape). Mostly used for religious services of the Catholic Church. This spread into California through the advance of a series of missions, by Father Junipero Serra.
|Buena Vista Winery|
There is so much more to the story of wine. Volumes of books have been written on the subject. Hopefully, this very short review with wet your appetite to learn more. Maybe even join one of my classes, where we get more in-depth. If not my class, find a local wine shop that offers instruction, and have fun!