Book Review: Wine:From Neolithic Times to 21st Century

By March 13, 2011Wine Tours
Hugh Johnson at the Oxford Cambridge blind tas...

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One of my ‘Bucket Wine Tours’ that I’d love to do is to the Republic of Georgia. I’ll never forget the video of Hugh Johnson standing in a winery somewhere in the Causasus Mountains and pointing to a quiver while calling this area the ‘cradle of wine civilization.’ Ever since then I wanted to go but each time I started planning a tour political upheaval occurred. I’ll make it yet although I don’t think there will be hordes of participants.

So to get ready, I read as much as I can. One recent book was “Wine: From Neolithic Times to the 21st Century” by Stefan Estreicher. (Algora Publishing.) The book is dedicated to ‘those who are continuously curious about life, and occasionally thirsty.’

Some of the material is old hat to serious wine lovers. After all who doesn’t know about the French classifications of their wines or that the missionaries first brought vinifera to the Americas. But what I did learn and find fascinating was the discussion of the ‘Little Ice Age’ of the 1300s. It began with the very cold Winter of 1309/10 which continued over 10 years and devastated Europe.

And of course I was fascinated by the discussion of the origins of wine. I learned of the Georgia State Museum in Tbilisi that has wine artifacts dating over 4000 years old. Estreicher points to archeological proof found in several Neolithic sites in the Zagros Mountains of North Eastern Iran. The oldest site, Hajji Firuz Tepe, goes back to 5400-5000 BC. Archeologists found 6 wine jars with clay stoppers each containing residue indicative of wine. Other similar artifacts were found in modern Turkey, Georgia, Iran, Egypt and Gaza.

Proving who were the first to make wine is not as easy. However the author is certain that “some 7,000-8,000 years ago, wine drinkers populated the region between the Black and Caspian Seas down to the northern Zagros Mountains.”

I am confident that this will be a great tour. I am told that the Georgians welcome visitors as “sent by God” and treat them royally. And now that Donald Trump is going to build in Georgia, can wine tours be that far behind?

If you’d like to be notified when this tour is being organized, please send me an email:

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