It is very obvious that wine and history have greatly influenced each other. The earliest scientific evidence of grapes is the Fossil vines which are millions of years old. The first written account of wine vines is in the Old Testament of the Bible. It states that Noah had planted a vineyard and made wine.
An ancient Persian tale tells the story of a lady of the court who discovers wine by accident. The princess, had lost favor with the King so she decides to attempt to poison herself by eating some table grapes that had spoiled in a jar. After eating them, thinking that this would kill her, instead she became intoxicated, giddy and quite sleepy. After waking from her nap, she discovered that she felt very different about the stresses that had been making her life miserable. These spoiled grapes had become a source of relief for her and she became a changed person with a mild and favorable demeanor. She regained her favor with the King and shared with him her discovery who inturn ordered the increased production of these spoiled grapes. It was established that grape cultivation and wine drinking had started around 4000BC. The first developments were in Mesopotamia, Persia and around the Caspian Sea, also writings were found in the ancient Egyptian tombs proving that wine was being consumed. The Egyptians had recognized the difference in wine quality and had cultivated the first arbors and pruning methods.
Wine came to Europe during the spread of Greek civilization around 1600BC. Wine became very important to Greece’s economy and was used by physcians, including Hippocrates, for medicinal purposes. The Greeks also started to add herbs and spices to curb the bitterness of the spoiled grapes.
The spread of viniculture in Western Europe was primarily due to the strong influence of the Romans. Starting around 1000BC, the Romans made strides in the classifying of grape varieties and colors. They identified diseases and the preference of different types of soil. They may also have been the first to use glass bottles, as glassblowing had become more common during this period.
The Roman Empire started exported the wine in barrels to Spain, Germany, England and France. It wasn’t long before these countries began developing their own vineyards and exporting their own barrels. To eliminate competition with the local wineries, the Romans forbade the import of French wines. Over the next few centuries France dominanated the world wine market. The Monks became responsible for establishing many vineyards in Burgundy, Champagne, and the Rhine Valley.
During the Reign of Henry II, England had been the principal customer of Bordeaux. At the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453, their was little to no trade of wine between England and France. Ultimately political conflicts limited the export of French wines and England began importing their wines from Portugal. They discovered and developed a great love of Port wine.
Explorations and conquests brought wine to Mexico, Argentina and South Africa in the late 1500’s. Although there were many attempts to grow wine vineyards along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, after 2 to 3 seasons the vines would die off and no one took the time to investigate why they were dying in these areas. Mexico and California vineyards didn’t seem to have these problems.
As in Europe, vineyards were under the care of the Church missions and in 1769, a Franciscan missionary Priest planted the first California vineyard in San Diego. From there Father Serra established eight more missions and vineyards until his death in 1784. Since then, he has been proclaimed the “Father of California Wine” The variety he planted from the original Mexican plantings became known as the “Mission Grape” that dominated the California wine production.. portland or wine tours