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Origin of Winery in Ancient Greece

While viticulture appears to have flourished as early as the Neolithic era, 6,500 years ago, the history of wine in Ancient Greece is first documented in the 15th century BC. Modern wine culture also started in ancient Greece, when drinking wine stopped being primarily a religious ritual, as it had been when priests and kings controlled the vineyards. Ancient Greece had extensive vineyard planting by the early Bronze Age. When the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations emerged, wine production and consumption had been a normal part of life. At that time, wine was a significant industry in Greek civilization.

Wine and trade in classical Greece

The principal mode of communication between the Mycenaean and Minoan cultures was trading. People from northern Greece invaded the monarchy-ruled southern Mycenaean region around 1200 BC. As a result of the war’s devastation of the Mycenaean regions, thousands of impoverished refugee families fled to fortified cities for safety. The invaders undermined the authority of kings and aristocrats by granting additional liberties to the populace to increase their power. Over time, the new, democratic city-states emerged, giving the ordinary people more freedoms and opportunities. The most popular and profitable types of land that ordinary people began to cultivate were vineyards and olive groves. Thus, people might own vines, take care of them, trade their wine, and consume it. Despite being a small group, a new class of merchants was created. During the same period, the number of Greeks who drank wine for pleasure rather than as part of a religious ritual increased.

Colonization and increased trade

The Greek city-states started to build colonies across the Mediterranean. The settlers brought grapevines and could better care for the existing vineyards because they had previous experience with vine cultivation. As they moved west, the ancient Greeks first built colonies in Sicily and southern Italy. The southernmost region of the Italian Peninsula was even given the Greek name Oenotria, which means “the country of vines.” While some Greeks traveled to the Black Sea’s coasts in the east, others settled in southern France’s Massalia (Marseille). Wine merchants have more chances thanks to the colonies. The Greeks could now export their wines to the eastern Black Sea and the western portion of France.


Due to the favorable environment in the Attica region and the significant production, Athens was a sizable and profitable market for wine. All the nations bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea traded Attican wine. The Greek islands of Thasos and Santorini were also well-known for their wine in antiquity. This is particularly true in Santorini, where the rich volcanic soil yielded outstanding grapes. The ancient Greeks were picky about the country of origin of their wines. The Crimea, Egypt, Scythia, and Etruria were among the major wine-trading partners of ancient Greece, with whom they also exchanged viticultural and winemaking expertise. A shipwreck off the coast of southern France that contained about 10,000 amphorae holding nearly 300,000 liters (79,000 US gallons) of Greek wine indicates the lucrative commerce in wine from Greece.

Unrefined wine

Ancient Greek wine was different from modern wine. In a container known as a krater, it was combined with water in exact measurements rather than being left undiluted. Greeks once combined wine with salt water as a preservative, and for the flavor, it was added to some coastal regions and islands, including Santorini. The addition of honey occasionally sweetened wine. The purpose of mixing water and wine was to help the drinker maintain self-control and composure, qualities that were highly regarded in ancient Greek society. Ancient Greeks thought that the only people who drank unmixed wine, became inebriated, and behaved barbarically were barbarians.

Also read: The Early Napa Valley

Greece is the Birthplace of Modern Wine Culture

Greeks had exported their way of life, which included cultivating vines, making wine, and drinking wine, to practically every port in the Mediterranean region along with their wine.



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