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In the first part of our story, we considered the domestication of Vitis vinifera and the earliest beginnings of wine in the Neolithic period. By the 14th century BCE, numerous societies in which wine held a place of privilege populated the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. In this chapter, our focus shifts westward. Greeks and Phoenicians, the intrepid seagoing successors of the Canaanites, extend the culture of wine throughout the Mediterranean. Then, under Roman rule, wine takes hold in Europe and becomes, for the first time, a popular mass beverage.


How, and where, did wine begin? The search for the answer raises a closely related query; namely, the origin of the grape and specifically Vitis vinifera, the foundation of modern viticulture. The exploration starts in the upland areas of the Taurus, Caucasus and northern Zagros Mountains in contemporary Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran. From this favorable habitat, the domesticated grapevine and a culture of wine migrated south to Mesopotamia, the Levant and Nile as well as west into the Mediterranean. Vines were also carried east through Persia to China along the Silk Road. As Patrick E. McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist, observes in Uncorking the Past, there is tangible evidence the earliest alcoholic beverages were being created on both sides of Asia by the early Neolithic period (7000 to 5000 BCE).

The Geology of Terroir


Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tasting & Seminar


The Geology of Viniculture: An Introduction

"Great wines require old vines, poor soil, and rich men." - Proverb

The wonderment of the connection between the earth and the vine began with the first glass of wine, and continues unabated today. Indeed, it seems that the discussion and study of terroir is even more prevalent, passionate, and perplexing than it has ever been. And in spite of the inevitable marketing overhype or chauvinistic protectionism by some wine makers who argue for the greatness and uniqueness of their terroir, there is a growing body of evidence that terroir can indeed be fundamentally important for producing high quality... even great... wines.

February 27th, 2017

Investing In Wine: A Reasoned Perspective

As a prospective or actual wine investor seeking to understand the market and define the right strategy, it may make sense to step back, consider the historical record, and put wine investment under a critical lens. According to leading indexes, 2016 was an extremely positive year in terms of the appreciation of investment-grade wines, which outpaced gold and stocks, even though global auction revenue fell slightly (-2%) compared to 2015. This was largely due to the absence of more than USD 12 million in sales posted by Wally's in California in 2015. Worldwide leader Sotheby's (USD 73.8 million) and number two Zachys (USD 65.7 million) showed strong increases in 2016, while third-place Acker Merrall & Condit (USD 58.5 million) suffered a drop. One company, WineBid, dominated online activity with USD 25 million in sales (Wine Spectator End of Year Auction Report, January 18, 2017). Wine investment does imply the secondary market, but it also encompasses collectors who mix business and pleasure, stocking their private cellars and participating to widely varying degrees in auctions. Whether a keen trader or passionate aficionado, or a blend of the two, every smart collector shares one aim: spend money wisely.