Discover Georgia
Leading international publications report on world's oldest wine discovery in Georgia
15 November, 2017
Archaeologists excavating Neolithic Georgian village found pieces of clay pots containing residues of the world's oldest wine. World’s leading editions - BBC News, The Guardian, The New York Times and National Geographic have reported about this historic discovery.Researchers found wine residue on pottery shards at two Georgian sites dating back to 6,000 B.C. The pottery jars were discovered in two Neolithic villages, called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, about 50km (30 miles) south of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

Video courtesy: Georgia
Cradle of Wine

The people living at Gadachrili Gora and a nearby village were the world’s earliest known vintners—producing wine on a large scale as early as 6,000 B.C., a time when prehistoric humans were still reliant on stone and bone tools.

“Raise a glass to Georgia, which could now be the birthplace of wine” - The New York Times reports.

The findings are the earliest evidence so far of wine made from the Eurasian grape, which is used in nearly all wine produced worldwide.

“Talk about aging of wine. Here we have an 8,000-year-old vintage that we’ve identified,” said Patrick McGovern, a molecular archaeologist from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and lead author of the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Base of Neolithic jar being prepared for sampling for residue analysis.
Photo courtesy Judyta Olszewski

Robert Desalle, a molecular biologist at the American Museum of Natural History and co-author of the book “A Natural History of Wine,” called the study “airtight,” adding that the findings will prompt him to rewrite the chapter in his book about the oldest site for winemaking.

National Geographic’s journalist, Andrew Curry, describes his impressions about the place where the unique discovery was made: “On a small rise less than 20 miles south of Tbilisi, Georgia, a clutch of round, mud-brick houses rise from a green, fertile river valley. The mound is called Gadachrili Gora, and the Stone Age farmers who lived here 8,000 years ago were grape lovers: Their rough pottery is decorated with bunches of the fruit, and analysis of pollen from the site suggests the wooded hillsides nearby were once decked with grapevines.”
Qvevri is still used today

“The region’s wine culture has deep historical roots,” says David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum. “Large jars similar to the Neolithic vessels (Qvevri) are still used to make wine in Georgia today.”

According to the National Geographic, if the archaeologists and other specialists can identify the modern variety of grape closest to what was growing near the Gadachrili village, they hope to plant an experimental vineyard nearby to learn more about how prehistoric winemaking might have worked.

The excavations in Georgia were largely sponsored by the National Wine Agency of Georgia.

“The Georgians are absolutely ecstatic,” said Stephen Batiuk, an archaeologist from the University of Toronto and one of the study’s co-authors. “They have been saying for years that they have a very long history of winemaking and so we’re really cementing that position.”

It is noteworthy that Georgia's traditional winemaking method of fermenting grapes in earthenware, egg-shaped vessels has been added to the world heritage list of the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organisation (UNESCO). The large earthenware vessels traditionally used to ferment grapes in Georgia are called qvevri and archaeological evidence of their use goes back 8,000 years.They are typically buried in the floor of the cellar or Marani, a semi-sacred place to most Georgians and found in almost every house

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