Snapshots of Lebanese wine history Part I

People are still surprised to learn that there is such a thing as Lebanese wine, let alone that wine production in Lebanon can be traced back to 7000 BC, making it one of the of the oldest wine drinking countries on earth.

Neolithic man may have enjoyed the effects of the juice from the fermented grape, but it was the Phoenicians, the seafaring Semitic people, famed for their trading acumen, who, as arguably the world’s first wine merchants, put Lebanese wine on the map.

Edward Hyams in Dionysus: A Social History of the Wine Vine writes of the Phoenicians: ‘They were a people who never seem to have had much land, only cities with a little land around them; this very fact may possibly account for their forwardness in viticulture; it would pay them far more better to plant their few acres with vines and sell the wine in exchange for grain and other necessities, than to grow their own grain.’

Out of this necessity grew one of the first great viticultural communities. As early as 3000 BC, and up to 330 BC, they bottled and shipped their prized elixirs from their power bases in Byblos, Sidon and Tyre, spreading viniculture to Egypt and Carthage in North Africa as well as Cyprus, Greece, Ancient Rome, Sardinia, Spain and even France.

Early Lebanese winemaker?

 

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