The history of wine

Scroll to navigate

Enjoyed for millennia and made all over the world, wine can be paired with food to awaken the senses and the palate. The history of wine is as fascinating as that of humanity. We look back on the origins of winemaking and its key dates.

The origins of wine and its history over the centuries

The history of wine appears to have started in 8,000 BCE, when wild vines were gradually replaced by cultivated ones in the Caucasus. However, it is difficult to know for certain who invented wine in the first place. While recent studies have revealed residues of wine on pottery in Georgia, the origins of viticulture have long been attributed to Armenia, considered the birthplace of the vine. Many archaeologists, historians and oenologists agree that it was the Egyptians who invented the concepts of crus and taught the Greeks – – now regarded as the pioneers of wine production – how to cultivate vines. The Greeks, who have always been passionate about vines, even have invented the first labels and wine cellars.

Production then spread to other parts of the world, including Italy, where it flourished. It also developed in North Africa, Spain and Portugal. But it was not until the fall of the Roman Empire that monks perfected the wine trade and vine growing as we know it. Finally, after America was officially discovered in 1492, European civilisation set out to conquer a new world and introduce vines to the North American continent.

The history of wine in France

Its history dates back to 600 years BCE, when the Phocaeans established France’s first vineyard in Massalia (now Marseille). With the arrival of the Romans, vine cultivation spread throughout Gaul. Viticulture extended through the Rhône valley from the 1st century, then to Burgundy and Bordeaux in the 2nd century. Vines reached the Loire Valley a century later, then Champagne and finally the Mosel Valley in the fourth century. Christianity played a major role in the history of wine and its spread through France. Indispensable to the Eucharist sacrament, wine was considered a currency and a means of honouring kings and great feudal lords. Vineyard maintenance was also rooted in cultural traditions.

Today, France is the second-largest wine producer in the world. Having been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010, wine is also recognised as French cultural heritage. It is part of the French way of life, enhanced by gastronomy all over the world.

— Monday 15 January 2024 by Olivier