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Grapevine painting on an ancient Greek amphora





It is believed that wine was introduced  in Greece  around 4000 BC and  there is evidence, found on artifacts,  that it was known to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. 

Ancient Greeks considered  that wine was a gift from the gods and worshiped Dionysus, a creature with the mind of man and the instincts of a beast, as god of wine. Festivals honoring Dionysus were held during winter months and were celebrated by performing arts and wine drinking.  Vineyards,  grapes and wine drinking  festivities were painted on  hundreds of ancient Greek artifacts of clay, marble and metal.

During  Homer times,  wine cultivation was part of Greece's agriculture. It is evident that wine was a drink for old and young Greeks. Tradition says that infant Achilles was given wine with his meals. Even Ulysses during his quest to return home used wine to gain control over Polyphemus by getting him drunk and blinding him afterwards. 

Greeks stored and transported  wines in airtight, ceramic vessels called amphorae. They also used a labeling system close to the one we have today. The amphorae had various shapes with two handles, and they were used to signify the city that produced and traded the particular wine.  The amphorae had  an inscription with the year of production and both handles were used to place the wine-makers stamp on one and the local ruler's stamp on the other. Also, the storage in amphorae had its benefits because it allowed them to store wine for long periods thus creating brilliant aged vintage wines. 

During the early Roman times Greeks introduced grape viticulture to Sicily in south Italy. As time went by and the tradition was handed down from father to son, the methods of wine cultivation improved. They used herbs and spices to preserve and flavor their wines and made them well known to the ancient world. It is not an exaggeration to say that Greece was back then, what France is today, in wines. 

The decline of wine cultivation started during the end of  the Byzantine empire  and grapevines were virtually vanished during the Ottoman empire. Greeks being under the Ottoman rule for five centuries lost their continuity in tradition of wine cultivation. At that time only a few areas in Greece cultivated wine and it was mostly in regions around monasteries. This fact led to a long period of wine culture with minimal standards of taste and quality.

In our days,  we stop in 1937 with the creation of the Greek Wine Institute and  in the 1960's when modern technology was applied by the Greek wineries to produce a wide variety of fine wines. Legislation helped to create local system of controlled production  called Quality Wines Produced In Registered Areas (V.Q.P.R.D.). Today approximately  20% of production is exported and 90% of it is absorbed by EU member countries.






Typical Clay Amphora

Typical Clay Amphora

Typical Amphorae

Ancient Greek Wine Crater

Ancient Greek Wine Cooler

Ancient Greek Cup Beaver

Ancient Greek wine cup

Typical Wine utensils



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