History of Wine Tourism in the Ancient World
Wine tourism is a relatively new phenomenon, but the love of wine is as old as civilization itself. The first recorded instance of wine production dates back to 6,000 BCE in Georgia, and by 3,000 BCE, wine was being produced in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Greeks were passionate about wine, and it played an important role in their culture and religion. Dionysus, the god of wine, was one of the most celebrated deities in Greek mythology. In fact, wine was often a sacrificial offering to the gods. In Rome, wine was highly prized and often used as currency. The Romans also believed that wine had medicinal properties.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that wine was produced on a large scale for commercial purposes. The French Revolution put an end to the monopolies that the nobility had held on vineyards, and the Napoleonic Wars led to a decline in demand for French wines. As a result, vineyards diversified their products and began catering to a wider audience. Wine tourism emerged as a way for vineyards to promote their products and attract visitors from all over Europe. Today, wine tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
Many countries have wine-tourism traditions, and the ancient world is no exception. In this article, we’ll explore ancient Greek wine tourism, Chinese wine tourism, and even ancient Arab wine tourism. While all of these countries had a strong wine culture, they were not as well known as the Greeks and the Romans.
Greek Wine Tourism in the Ancient World
Ancient Greek wine has a rich history. Wine-making in Greece is one of the oldest in the world. The Roman Empire made the Greeks famous for their wine, and by the Middle Ages, Greek wine was selling for a high price in Northern Europe.
Ancient Greeks knew the importance of wine and were very particular about the quality of their product. They differentiated between young wines meant for the masses and those that were mature and meant for the connoisseur. This distinction meant that certain places gained a reputation as excellent wine-producing areas. Some of these places were the islands of Chios, Rhodes, and Lesbos.
The region of Macedonia, in the central north of Greece, produces full-bodied red wines. The region also produces Muscat of Alexandria, which is a sweet wine. Visitors to Lemnos should visit Lemnos Organic Wines, a winery in Karpasi. There is also an extensive wine museum on the island.
The wine road of Northern Greece combines wine and culture with beautiful natural scenery and ancient sites. The road passes by the Derveni krater, a 40-kilogram funerary urn modeled after an ancient wine vessel. Ancient symposia were held in the area where young men drank wine mixed with water. The wine tasted at these symposia was believed to be quite good.
The Greek wine regions are some of the oldest and most diverse in the world. Their wines range from the modest Retsina to expensive high-quality wines. It’s sunny climate and diverse wine production make Greece one of Europe’s best places for wine tourism. There are many great wines to try in Greece and many excellent local producers that are still undiscovered outside Greece.
The biggest wine-growing region in Greece is Nemea, just a day trip from Athens. The region produces 80% of the Greek red wine Agiorgitiko. This grape variety is the most popular in Greece and produces a wide range of wines.
Chinese Wine Tourism in the Ancient World
Winemaking and tourism in China is not a new phenomenon. The country’s wine industry dates back thousands of years. China’s wine industry has been developing nicely in recent years. There are a number of reasons for this. Wine tourism is a good way to increase tourist numbers. It also helps to promote the country’s ancient history. China was one of the first countries to make wine, and it was a very popular beverage during ancient times.
The first wineries in China were established in the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) when grape wine was brought to the country from Central Asia. There is even a statue of a Sogdian wine merchant with a wineskin from the Tang dynasty.
This study uses anthropological methods to examine transnational meanings of wine localization. The research draws on qualitative data collected in Hong Kong between 2009 and 2015 and includes interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic research in 15 wine-related venues. Overall, more than a hundred hours of ethnographic observation and ethnographic analysis were gathered.
In 1279 CE, winemaking was introduced to Shaanxi in Central China. In this region, winemaking has survived thanks to ancient techniques and grape varieties. Some of these ancient practices are still practiced in local homes. There are also a number of vineyards in this region. Moreover, winemaking is an ancient tradition that can be dated back to the Stone Age.
China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. After joining the WTO, it was required to abandon many anti-competitive business practices that protected domestic wine producers and punished foreign wine producers. After joining the WTO, China’s wine export tariffs were lowered from 65% to just under 10%.
Arab Wine Tourism in the Ancient World
During the Second Temple period, winemaking in Palestine reached its peak as a major export becoming the economic backbone of the time. However, the Romans and later Ottomans wiped out the temple, and the Jews and the wine industry was destroyed. This was due to Islam’s prohibition of alcohol, and the Ottomans discouraged wine consumption. However, the Ottomans ignored the Arabs’ invention of distilled spirits, which later became popular, such as Arak.
Also read: Wine Tourism in the United States
The Ancient Egyptians were also avid wine drinkers. During the Old Kingdom, winemaking in the Nile Delta likely originated as part of trade between Egypt and Canaan. In the Old Kingdom, wine was a common ingredient on offering lists. The tomb of King Scorpion I in Abydos contained 700 jars of wine believed to have been imported from the Eastern Mediterranean.
In the Islamic era, wine production was widespread in the Arabian peninsula. Although Islam banned all intoxicants, wine was tolerated by different religious groups. During the early years of Islam, wine consumption was not prohibited, and many Khalifas drank wine during social gatherings. Christian monasteries also made wine and traded it throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Other religions, including Zoroastrians, engaged in wine production, and many Middle Eastern countries contained wineries.
The Middle East is the cradle of the wine industry. Wine-making dates back to the Stone Age in Canaan. The oldest discovered grape pips are believed to be from this period. From there, wine production spread to North Africa and Europe. And today, it is a major staple in our modern world.
Bulgarian Wine Tourism in the Ancient World
Bulgaria’s native grapes, like Mavrud, Pamid, and Gamza, were probably first cultivated by the Thracians. Ancient Greek mythology attributes these grapes to Dionysus, the god of wine, theater, and fertility. Bulgarian wine has a long history dating back to the first century BCE.
Today, Bulgarian wine is produced in five distinct regions. The largest is the Thracian Valley, home to the Mavrud grape, an ancient variety of red wine that ages beautifully in oak. Another popular variety is Rubin, a cross between Nebbiolo and Syrah, with typical berry flavors.
In the Struma Valley, Bulgaria’s southwest viticultural region, you can visit Lovico Suhindol Winery, which opened in 1909. The winery produces Gamza, Chardonnay, and Muscat. Located near Veliko Tarnovo, the winery’s name is derived from a section of the Magura Cave where wine is aged. Visitors can try samples of these wines and learn about the area’s history and wine-making process.
In ancient times, Bulgaria was a part of the Thracian civilization, which brought grapevines from Asia Minor. According to Pliny the Elder the Thracian, Evmolp was the first viticulturist in Europe. The Ancient Greeks commonly diluted wine with water, but Thracian men drank wine undiluted, which was considered a sign of greatness and high social status.
Did You Know: In recent years archaeological findings have revealed the presence of ancient royal wine cellars in Bulgaria
Bulgarian wine is a unique product with a long history. Bulgaria has developed a reputation for great quality wine with its favorable climate, fertile soil, and winemaking culture. Today, the country is home to five official wine regions. These include the Danube Plain, the Black Sea Coast, the Thracian Valley, the Struma Valley, and the Rose Valley.
Bulgaria is home to over 300 wineries and about 80 of these offer tours. Tours are usually by appointment only. The Danubian Plain region, north of the Balkan Mountain range and south of the Danube River produces popular reds from the Gamza and Pamid grapes. The Valley of Roses, on the other hand, is home to 80% of the world’s rose oil, along with the native Red Misket grape.
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ON THIS DAY
The 1970s: Wine tourism began in Mondavi, California. Visiting vineyards and sampling wines directly at the source grew popular in the United States, spreading to major cities such as Washington DC, New York City, and San Francisco.
In the 1980s, China, Europe, South Korea, and Japan welcomed the first visitors to see the local vineyards and sample the wines produced. As a result, institutions took steps to promote wine tourism around the world.
March 2009: The Conseil Supérieur de l’Oenotourisme was founded. The group, affiliated with Atout France and founded by the Ministers of Tourist and Agriculture brought the wine industry and tourism actors together to promote wine tourism in France.
2009: In the year 2009, the “Vignobles et découverte” label was established. This label specifies 67 places that provide travelers with a comprehensive and appealing range of amenities. This includes bed and breakfasts, restaurants, estate visits, and wine tastings.
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“Wine Tourism, a Constantly Growing Activity.” n.d. Accessed August 28, 2022. https://webunwto.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/imported_images/44020/12076_turismo_del_vino_cornejo_en.pdf.