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Global History

The history of wine spans thousands of years and is closely intertwined with the history of agriculture, cuisine, civilization and man himself. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC. It becomes clearer, and points to domestication of grapevine, in Early Bronze Age sites of the Near East, Sumer (Mesopotamia) and Egypt from around the third millennium BC.

The Roman Empire had an immense impact on the development of viticulture and oenology. Wine was an integral part of the Roman diet, and wine making became a precise business. Virtually all of the major current wine-producing regions of Western Europe were established by the Romans, and the wine-making technology improved considerably during this period. Many grape varieties and cultivation techniques were developed, and barrels and bottles began to be used for storing and shipping wine at this time. The Romans also created an early form of appellation system, as certain regions gained reputations for their fine wines.

In the late 1800s the Phylloxera louse brought devastation to vines and wine production in Europe. It brought catastrophe for all those whose lives depended on wine. The repercussions were widespread, including the loss of many indigenous varieties. On the positive side, it led to the transformation of Europe's vineyards. Only the fittest survived, bad vineyards were uprooted and better uses were found for the land. This was particularly important in creating certain wines as we know them, for example Champagne and Bordeaux finally achieved the grape mix which defines them today.

Grapes, as well as wheat, were first brought to what is now Latin America by the first Spanish conquistadores to provide the necessities of the Catholic Holy Eucharist. Planted at Spanish missions, one variety came to be known as the Mission grapes and is still planted today in small amounts. Succeeding waves of immigrants imported French, Italian and German grapes, although wines from grapes native to the Americas were also produced.