History of Wine

Not based on precise references, Hittites who came to Anatolia over Caucasus in 2000 B.C. and settled in Corum (Hattusas) created a large civilization during 600 years of authority.

According to the information obtained as a result of archaeological excavations conducted, Hittites have attached great importance to viniculture together with wheat and barley plantation.

Importance given to wine and viniculture in Hittite Civilization may be seen by golden, soil and ceramic cups formed by various animal figures belonging to Hittite Civilization, the fact that there are figures of grape and wine on rock pictures and sculptures, that there are special provisions in Hittite laws regarding protection of vineyards and crops, raisins are mentioned in Bogazkoy texts.

Information obtained about Hittites also provides significant historical data about starting time of viniculture in Anatolia.

We may learn from written sources and archaeological data that vineyard and wine culture has developed much in the period of Phrygians who dominated on a large part of Anatolia upon expiration of Hittite civilization, that viniculture has taken a significant place in Anatolia during Persian Civilization and Hellenistic period as well.

For instance, Homer who is said to be born in Izmir-Bayrakli mentions abundance of Phrygia grape kinds and various written sources mention that wine culture of the people in Lydia (West Anatolia), Lycia (South Anatolia-around Antalya), Bitinia (West Blacksea) and Cappadocia has developed.

After Anatolia became country of the Turks in the 11th (B.C.) century, viniculture has also continued to develop on these lands.

Plantation of grape which was very different and new for Europe has extended from the Balkans to Italy, France and Spain in the period of Ottoman Empire and vine leaves and grape bunches were significant figures on Seljuk and Ottoman decorations.

Spread of viniculture on the west of Anatolia was implemented with Minos Civilization (2200-1400 B.C.) migrated from Anatolia to Crete and Aegean islands; viniculture initiated by Minos Civilization in Crete extended to the Morea and Thrace.

The Greek and especially Finike (Phoenicus) who are the leading communities of marine trade carried viniculture to the west of Mediterranean (Northwest Africa, Sicillia, South Italy, Spain and France) and the first vineyards were established by the Greek emigrants settled in the South of France in 500 B.C.

However, the Romans left their marks on development of viniculture.

Therefore, Heredotus called Italy as “wine country” (ontoria). Upon expansion of Roman Empire, viniculture reached Ren Valley of Germany and a considerable decline has been lived in wine trade with expiration of the empire but wine trade has displayed a new development by the effect of Christianity which extended fast throughout Europe in this period.

Viniculture and winemaking continued their development under supervision of monasteries in 500-1000 B.C. (Middle Ages).

Although 30 Years Wars in Europe damaged the vineyards on Ren Valley in between the 16th and 19th centuries and major frost event in 1709 destroyed the vineyards in France and on the north of Germany and despite phylloxera which firstly circulated in France in 1868, viniculture has maintained its significance and development in Europe up to now.