Areni-1 winery

The Areni-1 winery is a 6100-year-old winery that was discovered in 2007 in the Areni-1 cave complex in the village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia by a team of Armenian and Irish archaeologists. The excavations were carried out by Boris Gasparyan of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and Ron Pinhasi from University College Cork (Ireland), and were sponsored by the Gfoeller Foundation (USA) and University College Cork. In 2008 the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) also joined the project with Gregory Areshian as co-director of the Areni Project. Since then the excavations have been sponsored by UCLA and the National Geographic Society as well. The excavations of the winery were completed in 2010.

The winery consists of fermentation vats, a wine press, storage jars, pottery sherds, and is believed to be at least a thousand years older than the winery unearthed in Judea and Samaria in 1963, which is the second oldest currently known.[1][2][3]

The Areni-1 shoe was found in the same cave in 2008.

Coordinates: 39°43′53″N 45°12′13″E / 39.731335°N 45.203626°E

Areni-1 cave entrance
Entrance to the Areni-1 cave


Excavations at the Areni-1 site began in 2007 and continued until September 2010. Armenian, American and Irish archaeologists fully unearthed a large, well-preserved 2-foot (60 centimeter) deep vat, along with a 3.5-foot (one meter) long basin made of clay and covered with malvidin.[3] In addition to these discoveries, grape seeds, remains of pressed grapes, prunes, walnuts, and desiccated vines were found. A number of drinking cups, found next to a set of ancient graves, were also excavated, suggesting that the site was used for funeral ceremonies and ritualistic practices.[4][5] The cave was abandoned after its roof caved in, and the organic material was preserved thanks to sheep dung, which prevented fungi from destroying the remains.[1]

The team's full findings will be published in future.

Areni-1 cave panorama
Panorama of the Areni-1 site along the Arpa River


The results of the biochemical analysis of the residues from the bottom of the wine-press and the storage jars carried out by Hans Barnard and his colleagues at UCLA were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science in January 2011.[6]

Botanical analysis and radiocarbon tests carried out by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and Oxford University have revealed the date of the Areni-1 winery to around 4100 BC and 4000 BC or the Late Chalcolithic Period.[2] According to Areshian, the vintners used their feet to press the wine in the clay basin, the juice of which would then drain into the vat, where it would remain to ferment until being stored in jars.[3] The capacity of the vat has been estimated to be about 14–15 gallons (US or imperial??).

According to Areshian, the discovery of the winery has provided greater insight to the study of horticulture. Patrick E. McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, has likewise emphasized the importance of the discovery, describing it as "important and unique, because it indicates large-scale wine production, which would imply, I think, that the grape had already been domesticated."[3]

The exact identity of the people who lived in the region at the time is not known, although some researchers have postulated that they may have belonged to the Kura-Araxes people and added that they may have been very involved in trade.[1][2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Maugh II, Thomas H. "Ancient winery found in Armenia." Los Angeles Times. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Santini, Jean-Louis. "Scientists find 'oldest ever' winery in Armenia." Agence France Press. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Owen, James. "Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave." National Geographic. January 10, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  4. ^ Belluck, Pam. "Cave Drops Hints to Earliest Glass of Red." New York Times. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
  5. ^ Squires, Nick. "World's earliest known winery discovered in Armenia." The Telegraph. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  6. ^ Barnard, Hans et al. "Chemical evidence for wine production around 4000 BCE in the Late Chalcolithic Near Eastern highlands." Journal of Archaeological Science, (2010), doi:10.1016/j.jas.2010.11.012


  • Areshian G, et al. "The Chalcolithic of the Near East and South-Eastern Europe: Discoveries and New Perspectives from the Cave Complex Areni-1, Armenia," Antiquity 86 (2012):115–130.

External links


Areni (Armenian: Արենի; formerly Arpa) is a village in the Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia. It is best known for its wine production, although the majority of wine produced locally is from the nearby village of Getap. The church of S. Astvatsatsin is a single-nave two-aisled domed Armenian church completed in the year 1321, and is located atop a plateau overlooking the Arpa River and Areni. It was designed by the architect and sculptor Momik who is best known for his high-relief carvings at the monastery of Noravank (located approximately 6 kilometers southeast from Areni). Nearby are also the 13th century ruins of lord Tarsaitch Orbelian of Syunik's palace, moved from Yeghegis to Areni during that time. Ruins of a 13th-century bridge built by Bishop Sarkis in 1265-1287 are one kilometer northeast of the church. At the same location are the remains of an older bridge.

Areni-1 cave

The Areni-1 cave complex (Armenian: Արենիի քարանձավ) is a multicomponent site, and late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age ritual site and settlement, located near the Areni village in southern Armenia along the Arpa River.

Areni-1 shoe

The Areni-1 shoe is a 5,500-year-old leather shoe that was found in 2008 in excellent condition in the Areni-1 cave located in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia. It is a one-piece leather-hide shoe, the oldest piece of leather footwear in the world known to contemporary researchers. The discovery was made by an international team led by Boris Gasparyan, an archaeologist from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia (co-directors of the project are Ron Pinhasi from University College Cork in Ireland, and Gregory Areshian from UCLA).

Gregory Areshian

Gregory Areshian (13 May 1949) is an Armenian-American archeologist and historian who is a professor at American University of Armenia. He was the co-director of the international team of archeologists who, led by Boris Gasparyan, found the 5,500 years old shoe in and the oldest winery in Areni, of which Areshian said:

For the first time, we have a complete archaeological picture of wine production dating back 6,100 years.

Gregory Areshian taught in 14 US universities and colleges including University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Irvine, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin, Platteville, Amherst College. He is the author of more than 150 scholarly works published in 5 languages in 12 countries, mostly devoted to interdisciplinary studies in social sciences and the humanities with a special focus on the Middle East and Armenia in a broader historical context.

History of the wine press

The history of the wine press and of pressing is nearly as old as the history of wine itself with the remains of wine presses providing some of the longest-serving evidence of organised viticulture and winemaking in the ancient world. The earliest wine press was probably the human foot or hand, crushing and squeezing grapes into a bag or container where the contents would ferment.The pressure applied by these manual means was limited and these early wines were probably pale in colour and body, and eventually ancient winemakers sought out alternative means of pressing their wine. By at least the 18th dynasty, the ancient Egyptians were employing a "sack press" made of cloth that was squeezed with the aid of a giant tourniquet. The use of a wine press in winemaking is mentioned frequently in the Bible but these presses were more elaboration of treading lagars where grapes that were tread by feet with the juice running off into special basins.

The more modern idea of a piece of a winemaking equipment used to extract the juice from the skins probably emerged during the Greco-Roman periods where written accounts by Cato the Elder, Marcus Terentius Varro, Pliny the Elder and others described wooden wine presses that utilized large beams, capstans and windlasses to exert pressure on the pomace. The wines produced by these presses were usually darker, with more color extracted from the skins but could also be more harsh with bitter tannins also extracted. That style of wine press would eventually evolve into the basket press used in the Middle Ages by wine estates of the nobility and Catholic Church leading to the modern tank batch and continuous presses used in wineries today.

History of wine

The earliest archaeological evidence of wine produced from grapes has been found at sites in China (c. 7000 BC), Georgia (c. 6000 BC), Iran (c. 5000 BC), Greece (c. 4500 BC), and Sicily (c. 4000 BC). The oldest evidence of wine production has been found in Armenia (c. 4100 BC).

The altered consciousness produced by wine has been considered religious since its origin. The ancient Greeks worshiped Dionysus or Bacchus and the Ancient Romans carried on his cult. Consumption of ritual wine was part of Jewish practice since Biblical times and, as part of the eucharist commemorating Jesus's Last Supper, became even more essential to the Christian Church. Although Islam nominally forbade the production or consumption of wine, during its Golden Age, alchemists such as Geber pioneered wine's distillation for medicinal and industrial purposes such as the production of perfume.Wine production and consumption increased, burgeoning from the 15th century onwards as part of European expansion. Despite the devastating 1887 phylloxera louse infestation, modern science and technology adapted and industrial wine production and wine consumption now occur throughout the world.


Malvidin is an O-methylated anthocyanidin, the 3',5'-methoxy derivative of delphinidin. As a primary plant pigment, its glycosides are highly abundant in nature.

Vayots Dzor Province

Vayots Dzor (Armenian: Վայոց Ձոր, Armenian pronunciation: [vɑjˌɔt͡sʰ ˈd͡zɔɾ] (listen)), is a province of Armenia. It lies at the southeastern end of the country, bordering the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan in the west and the Kalbajar District (de jure part of Azerbaijan, de facto controlled by the unrecognized Artsakh Republic) in the east. It covers an area of 2,308 km2 (891 sq mi). With a population of only 53,230 (2002 census), it is the most sparsely populated province in the country. The capital and largest city of the province is the town of Yeghegnadzor.

The province is home to many ancient landmarks and tourist attractions in Armenia including the Areni-1 cave complex and Areni-1 winery of the Chalcolithic period, the 8th-century Tanahat Monastery, the 10th-century Smbataberd fortress, and the 13th-century Noravank monastery. Vayots Dzor is also home to the spa-town of Jermuk.

The village of Gladzor in Vayots Dzor was home to the 13th and 14th-century University of Gladzor.

Vitis vinifera

Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran. There are currently between 5,000 and 10,000 varieties of Vitis vinifera grapes though only a few are of commercial significance for wine and table grape production.It is a liana growing to 32 m (35 yd) in length, with flaky bark. The leaves are alternate, palmately lobed, 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) long and broad. The fruit is a berry, known as a grape; in the wild species it is 6 mm (0.24 in) diameter and ripens dark purple to blackish with a pale wax bloom; in cultivated plants it is usually much larger, up to 3 cm (1.2 in) long, and can be green, red, or purple (black). The species typically occurs in humid forests and streamsides.

The wild grape is often classified as V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris (in some classifications considered Vitis sylvestris), with V. vinifera subsp. vinifera restricted to cultivated forms. Domesticated vines have hermaphrodite flowers, but subsp. sylvestris is dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants) and pollination is required for fruit to develop.

The grape is eaten fresh, processed to make wine or juice, or dried to produce raisins. Cultivars of Vitis vinifera form the basis of the majority of wines produced around the world. All of the familiar wine varieties belong to Vitis vinifera, which is cultivated on every continent except for Antarctica, and in all the major wine regions of the world.


Wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol, carbon dioxide, and heat. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine. These variations result from the complex interactions between the biochemical development of the grape, the reactions involved in fermentation, the terroir, and the production process. Many countries enact legal appellations intended to define styles and qualities of wine. These typically restrict the geographical origin and permitted varieties of grapes, as well as other aspects of wine production. Wines not made from grapes include rice wine and fruit wines such as plum, cherry, pomegranate, currant and elderberry.

Wine has been produced for thousands of years. The earliest known traces of wine are from Georgia (c. 6000 BC), Iran (c. 5000 BC), and Sicily (c. 4000 BC) although there is evidence of a similar alcoholic drink being consumed earlier in China (c. 7000 BC). The earliest known winery is the 6,100-year-old Areni-1 winery in Armenia. Wine reached the Balkans by 4500 BC and was consumed and celebrated in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. Throughout history, wine has been consumed for its intoxicating effects.Wine has long played an important role in religion. Red wine was associated with blood by the ancient Egyptians and was used by both the Greek cult of Dionysus and the Romans in their Bacchanalia; Judaism also incorporates it in the Kiddush and Christianity in the Eucharist.


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