By Samantha McQueen
Winemaking was a popular practice of the ancients and remains significant in the modern world. We drink wine at parties, with dinner, and even for religious purposes. The Director of the Molecular Archaeology Lab at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Patrick E. McGovern, claims that he can trace the first winemakers back to modern-day Armenia and Georgia. In his book Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture, he studies archaeological remains in the region to date the drink’s earliest production. McGovern is interested in the tartaric acid that wine leaves behind when stored in ceramic pottery. The first pots containing this acid were dated back to Armenian lands 8,000 years ago.
McGovern found that production moved south and made its way down to Thebes in today’s Greece by the year 1400 B.C. It is still unclear how the actual process of winemaking was discovered, but it is clear the ancient occupants of Georgia and Armenia are responsible for one of the most lasting traditions over numerous cultures, old and new.
In 1994, FAR, alongside Peace Corps volunteers, helped to open one of the most successful wineries in Areni, Armenia. The factory has expanded over the past decade and is now a full wine factory.