Wine was first produced during the Neolithic period (8500-4000 B.C.) At that time Neolithic people started using a variety of food processing techniques—fermentation, soaking, heating, spicing- that led to the production of an alcoholic beverage that was later know as wine.
According to mythology, vine was first cultivated by the Greek god Dionysius, and according to the Bible it was first introduced by Noé. Another theory goes that Vitis vinifera- the most usual type of vine -was originated in Transcaucasia- today Georgia and Armenia. The earliest evidence of wine was an amphora found in Iran, which was dated at 3.500 B.C.
Greek and Roman cultures attached a lot of importance to wine. Greeks produced it in their South Italian colonies and Romans in the whole of the Roman Empire. The beginning of wine-growing in France is not clearly defined. Some people have the theory that wine was first introduced by Greek people in Massalia, on the southern coast of what is now France. As Greeks expanded their territory over the Iberian Peninsula, southern Italy, North Africa, Asia Minor and what is now Southern Russia and Georgia, they gained land for cultivation.
When territories inhabited by Romans fell to Germanic tribes, the production of wine decreased and, in some places, it remained as an activity exclusive of monks and monasteries. Between the 12th and 13th centuries, however, wine production was again on the increase. Later, during the 15th and 16th centuries, new wine-growing techniques were introduced. Some of the foremost wines of the time were those produced in France- mainly in Burgundy and Champagne.
During the 17th century France introduced the use of bottles and corks, which facilitated the store of wine. Some of today’s best Bordeaux vineyards were started by aristocrats at the end of the 17th century. At the same time, British wine producers started producing wine in Portugal, and during the 18th century Spain was also famous for its wine.
Winemaking was not only popular in Europe but also in other continents. Chilean viticulture dates from the 16th century and South African from 17th century. Winemaking was first introduced in the United States and Australia during the 18th century. In 1863 some species of Native American grapes were taken to England. These cuttings carried a species of insect called phylloxera vastatrix that attacked vine roots and leaves, thus devastating European viticulture. In the United States this species of insect affected principally European vines, and therefore it was thought that American vines were stronger than European ones. It was not until 1880 that Americans found a solution to this plague and vineyards were free of phylloxera.
Wine-growing did not undergo many difficulties until the first half of the 20th century, mainly in wartime. Wars had serious repercussions in wine production, particulalry World War I and World War II. The second half of the century, on the contrary, was a period of rapid expansion for viticulture, mainly due to advances in technology that led to the globalization of wine-growing.
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