Grape nectar is definitely the oldest and most prized beverage in the world. The way in which the techniques of vinification and exploitation of the various varieties evolved, as well as the value that the people gave to wine, is an good cause to study the history of this particular drink, especially during the times when wine was a symbol of culture and power.


The Neolithic Age (10000 BC-3500 BC) also marks the beginning of the cultivation of the vine, which seems to begin in the area of the Euphoric Crescent, viz. the geographical area that includes the lower zones of the mountain ranges of the Near East, from Asia Minor (Taurus Mountains) and Palestine to western Iran (Zagros Mountains). One of the first populations to cultivate vineyards was the Sumerians, who settled in Mesopotamia, on the land strip between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Wine held a significant role in all Middle Eastern tables, as various evidence and papyri prove that in neighbouring Egypt, wine was considered the drink of the Pharaohs, priests and high officials of the region, as well as the sacred drink of religious and social ceremonies.

Cyprus also held a special place on the vine-wine map of the world, as an island in the wider region of the Agricultural Revolution. In fact, archeological findings overturn any historical precedent, as traces of wine were found in 5,500 years old amphorae, rendering our island one of the first countries in the Mediterranean to have had domesticated the vineyard.

Ancient Times

In ancient Greece, the worship of Dionysus, or Bacchus for the Romans, by his initiates, not only surpassed respect for the creator and protector of the vine and wine, but also created institutions and events beyond simple worship. Thus, in ancient Athens, glorious celebrations were established in honour of the god, the “Dionysia”, during which a number of feasts and theatrical performances took place, while in ancient Rome, one day of the year was exclusively dedicated to Bacchus.

Arriving in Galatia, the art of viticulture spread on the banks of the Rhone to Lyon, Burgundy and Rhine. At the same time, the vineyard arrived in Bordeaux where it was meant to cause miraculous things. But Rome suffered the consequences of this expansion. Both overproduction and competition led to a sharp decrease in prices. In the 1st century AD, the recession led the emperor Domitian to uproot the vineyards in some areas.

Middle Ages

During the early Middle Ages the Church undertook wine management. The Bishop, lord of the city, became the manager of the vineyards and the owner of the cellars. On the one hand, the wine should be enough to meet the needs of the Holy Eucharist and, on the other hand, it should also be offered as a gift to the various monarchs and high-ranking officials. The vineyards framed the castles and their possession gave prestige to their owners. Later, with the development of bourgeoisie, tmany of the vineyards around the cities passed into the hands of wealthy citizens.

Early Modern Europe

During the Renaissance, the wine map of European vineyards was developed to be very similar to that of today’s. Colonialism and the spread of Christianity introduced viticulture to the New World countries (Latin America, Mexico, California, South Africa). In contrast, in most Muslim countries, viticulture had been restricted due to the Qur’an’s prohibitions of alcohol consumption. Among the many changes in the history of grapes and wine, diseases and pests introduced to Europe by the United States in the mid-20th century have been extremely devastating. A typical example is the destructive phylloxera.

Modern Times

During the 19th century, winemaking methods improved significantly and today they have reached an almost scientific degree of perfection. The former, glorious reputation of wine has revived and, in relation to the origins of our culture, the cultivation of the vine presents one of the most proud and peaceful achievements to be proud of.

Where there are vineyards, there is wine and where there is wine there is “ev zein” (good living). And everything seems to merge; history, myth, evolution. Everything is united by an inseparable wine story!