World’s Oldest Winery Found in Armenia

An apparent wine press (in front of sign) and fermentation vat (right) emerge during a dig in Armenia. Photograph courtesy Gregory Areshian
An apparent wine press (in front of sign) and fermentation vat (right) emerge during a dig in Armenia. Photograph courtesy Gregory Areshian

Archaeologists have uncovered a wine press for stomping grapes, fermentation and storage vessels, drinking cups, and withered grape vines, skins, and seeds, near the village of Areni, in the same cave where a stunningly preserved, 5,500-year-old leather shoe was recently found, National Geographic reports.

“This is the earliest, most reliable evidence of wine production,” said archaeologist Gregory Areshian of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“For the first time, we have a complete archaeological picture of wine production dating back 6,100 years,” he said. (Related: “First Wine? Archaeologist Traces Drink to Stone Age.”)

The prehistoric winemaking equipment was first detected in 2007, when excavations co-directed by Areshian and Armenian archaeologist Boris Gasparyan began at the Areni-1 cave complex.

The cool, dry conditions of the cave would have made a perfect wine cellar, according to Areshian, who co-authored the new study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Given the fact, that production of wine has a big role in the Armenian economy, in terms of industrial output and agricultural production, this news is an excellent marketing opportunity for Armenian wine-makers.

PS: This cave in Areni is becoming an endless treasure trove of breaking news stories for Armenia. The story about leather shoe made news headlines on international media last year and now we’re seeing a similar reaction on archeaologists’ latest find. We ought to make this cave a key tourist attraction…

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