THE ORIGIN OF VITICULTURE
Viticulture has gone hand-in-hand with the history of HUMANITY since ancient times. The ark landed on Mount Ararat, where the vine took root, and its end product (wine) was the protagonist of Noah’s libation at the end of a challenging period; this is the event that symbolises the completed domestication of the vine, whose process of transforming grapes into wine accompanies civilization, as demonstrated by archaeological finds.
Generally, referred as Vitis Vinifera, the Vitis genus includes over 60 native species divided into three groups: Eurasian, Asian and American.
Without going into further detail, the history of the vine and wine has accompanied all the vicissitudes of human history.
The first stages of the evolution of the vine-growing and wine-producing world, as we know it today, are linked to the history of the Fertile Crescent. The area where the Vitis Vinifera was domesticated and where its plant imprint formed, with long-day photoperiodism. In fact, the following ranges, where men spread it, respected the plant’s climatic needs. This physiological aspect explains the enormous difficulties in cultivating the vine between the two tropics. The expansion of viticulture was then favored by the Phoenicians and their Carthaginian colonies, by Greece and the colonies of Magna Graecia, by the Etruscans, the Latins, and Roman civilization.
An essential US researchers' document about the domestication of the vine and its spread in prehistoric and protohistoric eras; see the attached document by Professor De Blij.
There is also compelling research by the Israeli school; see the full document “Evolution of wine production technologies in the Ancient Era” by the emeritus professor Amos Hadas, in Articles.
Initially, the wine was the drink of the gods, of a world of rituals that was the source of magic, but then it spread and was “modified” through the Mediterranean trade routes, while the Asian murmur of the Fertile Crescent, where it took its first steps, gradually faded.
Rome, one of the most influential civilizations in history, vaunts the title of leading diffuser of the vine and wine as it accompanied them through the expansion of the Empire, widening its frontiers in all directions of the compass.
The sacredness attributed to this “elixir” is not limited to gods such as the Etruscan Fulfluns, the Greek Dionysus or Roman Bacchus, but the sacred-profane legacy continues in the Christian religion, with the ritual symbolism of wine, the blood of Christ, that penetrates the collective unconscious and forms the driving force of a new universal conquest in its name.
In the Holy Roman Empire, it was the ruling classes, the nobles and the clergy that toasted to Imperial success with goblets. Monks, the new representatives of this religion, not only preserved varieties by selecting them for their winemaking potential, but they spread wine further as a divine symbol in ecclesiastic rituals.
In a rapidly-evolving Europe, scourged by unrest with peoples continually at war, monasteries became neutral places, a “haven” for the cultivation of a plant like a vine, which needs care and attention during its growth. The vine was thus saved from barbarization by European peoples