Ever wonder who made the first wine in the world? Well, in 2011 an amazing wine discovery was unearthed…literally. During an archaeological dig in Armenia, a wine press and a fermentation vat were uncovered at a burial site. What makes the discovery all the more fascinating is the fact that earlier, a stunningly well-preserved 5,500-year-old leather moccasin was found in the same cave. Archaeologists now believe that the winemaking that took place in this cave may have been a tribute to the deceased. As a gesture of respect, footwear was very likely removed.
Other objects found during the excavation included storage vessels, drinking cups, and withered grape vines, skins, and seeds. "This is the earliest, most reliable evidence of wine production," said archaeologist Gregory Areshian of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Placement of the vat in the cave suggests that early vintners pressed their wines in a classic manner: with their feet. Juice from the stomped grapes would have run into the vat for fermentation before being stored in jars. According to Areshian, the cool, dry conditions of the cave made it a perfect wine cellar.
This discovery is particularly important because it pinpoints the mountains of Armenia, Georgia, and neighboring countries as the birthplace of viticulture. To read more about ancient drinking rituals and how DNA and carbon dating studies have been used to test for wine remnants, click here.
Where in the world would you have guessed winemaking began? Tell us below.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GREGORY ARESHIAN / National Geographic News