Sunday, February 6, 2011


Ancient Armenian Winery Discovered

Archaeologists digging around in the mountains of Armenia have found what they believe to be the world's oldest known winery.

National Geographic reports the researchers have unearthed a wine press, fermentation vessels and even some old dried up grapevines believed to be about 6,100 years old.  One of the archaeologists, from UCLA, says it is the "earliest, most reliable evidence of wine production."

It appears that the ancient winemakers stomped the grapes with their feet, allowing the juice to run into a vat where it was fermented.  The scientists say the cool, dry conditions of the cave where the winery was found would make a perfect place to store wine.

Traces of malvidin - the plant pigment that causes red wine to be red - was found on some drinking cups also located there.  However, the lack of tartaric acid might point to the wine having been made using pomegranates instead of grapes.

Evidence of wine has already been discovered dating back 7,000 years in Iran, but there was no winemaking facility discovered there.  The new discoveries lead scientists to believe that Armenia, Georgia and neighboring countries may be the birthplace of viticulture.

There were also some burial sites discovered in the area, leading the team to suspect that wine was a big part of the civilization's funeral proceedings.

According to the report, these discoveries are important because of what they show about prehistoric societies.  Vine growing represents an advanced form of agriculture and the knowledge of how to make something with culinary and nutritional value out of what were once wild grapes indicates a certain level of sophistication.

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