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A Brief History of Winemaking

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winemaking

Winemaking can be traced back to the beginning of civilization itself. The first wine production seems to originate from Iran in 6000 BC.

Winemaking began to expand along with the Greek empire and the culture continued to spread through North Africa, Italy and France in the early days. Wine was taken more seriously by the Romans who were the first to cellar wine in barrels, instead of relying on the earthenware jars embraced by the Greeks.

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Gaul, which is now France, received their introduction to winemaking by the Romans. The early developments in winemaking were born from the river valleys, which the Romans cleared of forest and cultivated. The rivers were a source of irrigation for grape vines and boats were useful in transporting wine. The Romans believed that wine had a civilizing effect on the people.

In the Middle Ages churches took the responsibility of nurturing vines, while wine gained an increased religious significance.

Winemaking – The Big Discovery!

Late in the 17th century, winemaking had a major breakthrough when it was discovered that wine in a bottle had a longer lifespan than wine in a barrel. The practice of keeping wine for longer periods became the norm after the discovery that cork could be used to seal wine bottles in order to prevent the entrance of air.

winemaking

The wine trade expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries to the extent where some economies had a great dependence on it. Tragedy struck during this era in the form of Phylloxera, a small sap-sucking fly that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines, devastating many European vineyards and leaving only a few varieties of grape vines untouched. Although much was lost, this catastrophic occurrence led to a more efficient use of land and better growing practices which improved production.

The Spanish conquerors were responsible for bringing grapes and wheat to South America in order to satisfy the needs of the Catholic church, which led to the spread of grape vines in the Americas. As more importation of grape vines occurred, the mix of old world and new world wines began to develop.

winemaking

Also in the 19th century, the French found a way of removing sediment from champagne, which made wine production much more automated and affordable. The industrial revolution of winemaking resulted in more reliable production and better quality wines. It also became possible to have wines fermented in large metal vats under a controlled temperature.

Modern technology has provided much more control over the production of wine and raised the standards for winemaking. In the last 90 years, winemaking has taken on much more of a scientific approach.

Call us at 920-776-1328 to schedule a tour of our winery and vineyard.  We also do tours at our regular events.

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