October 24, 79 AD: On this day Mount Vesuvius, overlooking the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, erupted. In the hours that followed Vesuvius spewed forth an enormous cloud of gases, molten rock, lava, and hot ash which exploded some 33 kilometers into the sky, such was the force of the eruption. This then descended back down on the nearby Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, burying them under volcanic ash. Thousands of people were killed and the remains of these two settlements were hidden away beneath the volcanic rock. When they were finally rediscovered in the eighteenth-century historians began to understand that Pompeii had not just been a major Roman town, but was also one of the foremost centers of viticulture in Italy in Roman times. Since then historians and archaeologists have determined that the region around Pompeii would have been dotted with vineyards. Frescoes on the walls of some of the houses within the towns even depict wine production and consumption, as well as elements of the worship of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine. For more information, see Emlyn Dodd’s ‘Pompeii is famous for its ruins and bodies, but what about its wine?’, The Conversation, 4 November 2020.
October 24, 1632: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch naturalist and one of the first microbiologists in the world, became the first scientist to observe yeast cells directly, using lenses that he developed himself. Yeast fermentation has always been the key process by which wine is made out of grape juice even before winemakers knew what it was, but understanding the science behind it has led to incredible minute and specific techniques, leading to ever-more-refined wines.
October 24, 1943: On this day, Alejandro Bulgheroni was born in Argentina. A billionaire from a wealthy family, he spent decades working in business before selling half of his family’s corporation Bridas in 2010. He owns a number of vineyards across the globe, including the award-winning Uruguayan winery Bodega Garzón and the Napa Valley vineyard Lithology.
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