History of Winemaking

Winemakers in the cellarAny idea when the first wine was made? Any idea how? Who made it? Well, those are probably not questions you naturally conjure up when sipping a class of Merlot or Chablis, but it might be ones you consider if you decided to make some.

It just seems when you decide to become artsy and undertake various forms of the arts from painting to sewing to winemaking, we as a race for some reason call into question the origin of our activities. Hmm, interesting thoughts, don’t you think? Well, let’s satisfy our innate curiosity a bit on our way to some investigative research of the more modern techniques of homemade winemaking.

Who Made the First Wines?

This could and probably would be a topic of hot debate amongst extreme wine connoisseurs and/or history buffs, but we’ll keep it a little lighter than that discussion for our purposes. We can easily reflect back many thousands of years and be safe with this one.

Ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and others as far back as Mesopotamian beginnings have archaeological evidences of wine making. No not in any modern fashion for certain but definitely the evidences are present that wine making is quite an OLD art.

So was it the Armenians, the Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, or Jewish? Who knows? But again, winemaking is quite an ancient undertaking and one that has evolved throughout time. The Romans show a rich history in the development of winery techniques, storage, and shipping. The Jewish kosher wines are well documented throughout archaeological historical findings. Eventually the Christian church, Catholicism, and others also participated in rituals of wine consumption for religious purposes.

When investigating the history of the first wineries of the United States one gets into a bit of a conflict. Two states, Indiana and Kentucky, like to lay claim to the First Winery. Some stories will tell how the winery began in Kentucky, but the preponderance of evidence suggests that John James Dufour did indeed begin the First Winery in a little town known as Vevay, Indiana.

From Vevay to a more modern era, wines and processes changed. Some for the better and some for the worse. Wine making just like all other forms of human endeavors evolved through scientific and technological discoveries and enhancements. From Pasteur’s microbiological discoveries to the double-helix discovery by Watson and Crick, wine making and tastes have developed across time.

The discoveries of great minds led to enhancements in safety and tastes. As more experimentation evolved, so too did the greed of the human’s evolving with it. Where profits beckon so too does human greed and dishonesty evolve also. This eventuality as in most things has led to subpar ingredients, potential fillers, dilution of wines, and other cheapening techniques. The process of those interested in money instead of art and quality led to cheaper wine for the masses and less than the purest of ingredients.

Consumer Awareness in the Modern Age

As consumers intelligence began to grow and become more interested about what was really going into their bodies at the mercy of those packaging and bottling it, they began to inquire and get answers. Labeling of foods and beverages has evolved through time and become quite restricted in certain areas while other areas do not have to answer to the same piper’s call.

Even in today’s postmodern age, the full ingredients added to many wines are not something the consumer is privy to. Should we know what is going into our drink? Should we know who is adding artificial yeasts, clay, fish bladder extract, charcoal, etc. to our yummy wines?

One’s first response would likely be, “most definitely.” Well, that is still a point of contention not yet resolved. So, if you feel steadfast in this area you may too join the ranks of what many Americans and others have begun to do.

Homemade Wine

And so is born the homemade wine making industry. Thanks to consumerism and consumer awareness people decided to take their wine into their own hands in a growing movement to save money on their alcohol and know what they are drinking too.

Gathering together supplies from simple to a bit more entrepreneurial you can easily learn distinct fermentation techniques, racking, foil shrink wrapping, and the importance of sterilization. You can make homemade winemaking into a fun hobby or even a business. However, when you grow beyond a certain point that’s when laws and legalities come into play. So, be sure to check with your local district, county, and state laws before you grow too much or try to sell alcohol.

However, if this is for your own interests and hobby, you can experiment to your heart’s content. From blackberry, watermelon to Chardonnays, Ports, and Dandelion. There are really no limits when it comes to winemaking. The only limiting factor is your imagination and your patience because undeniably good wines take time.