History of Wine Seminar
Nantucket Wine Festival

Dateline: 06/13/99

Ferry Our first stop on May 22nd when we disembarked onto Nantucket Island was the History of Wine talk, sponsored by Mondavi Vineyards. The four of us headed straight over to the talk location, located just west of the center of town.

We were the first to arrive, and we chatted with Tim Clark, the representative from the Mondavi Winery. He first poured us some 1997 La Famiglia Moscato Bianco. It was very easy to drink, light, slightly bubbly, with summertime fruity flavors to it. Peach and Orange were tasted in there. Not too sweet, but very fresh.

Next came the RM Napa Valley Fume Blanc, a name Mondavi invented in 1966 for his version of Sauvignon Blanc. This was the color of toast - a pale yellow. It had a very brisk, clean taste to it. Flavors of pear and melon wafted through.

Following the Fume was the Napa Valley Chardonnay, an unfiltered, darker yellow wine. This had a fruitier odor - apple, pear, perhaps some melon, and a toasty aspect to it as well. It was full and had a long finish.

Next was the Napa Valley Merlot, 1996, a garnet color. This had a spicy, fruity taste to it - plums and berries, with a hint of tannin.

The last wine was the Napa Valley Zinfandel. This was a rich color, with a delicious berry and tobacco flavor to it. With this wine being served, Nina Williams began her talk on the history of wine, accompanied by lovely slides.

Wine has been around for at least 7,000 years - unlike beer and other alcohols, wine just happens all by itself and needs no other steps. If a primitive people gathered grapes and let them sit in a jar, wine would have resulted. Even as far back as 5,400 BC, there is evidence that Northern Iranian people aged wine on purpose.

Most wine cultivation began in the Black and Caspian seas. The vines would climb trees and be trained this way. Wine was thought well of - in Gilgamesh, in 2000 BC, wine was said to make humans immortal. There were vineyards on the Nile before the pyramids, and wine was buried with people for their afterlife. In fact, in Tutankhamun's tomb, they labelled wines by the winery, and there were both red and white wines.

Amphora Wild vines in Greece were put to use, and amphorae helped make the Greeks great wine traders. These grapes and techniques were brought by them to Rome and France. In the same manner, vines are not native to the US - all were brought in from elsewhere. Ruins tell us a lot about wine. For example, in Pompeii there were 100 wine bars and 20 wine shops. When Rome became a great power, they brought wine further into France, Germany and Italy.

Religion and wine are closely mixed. In Burgundy, it was the Sistines and Benedictines that often kept vineyards going. In South America, Mexico and California, the missions grew wines. They preserved the tradition of wine through the dark ages, and their foundations form some of the greatest wine regions we have today.

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All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.