The Vineyard of Senex Caecilius

The modest vineyard shown on the left contains mainly Sagrantino grapes, but there are also a few vines of the Procanico and Drupello varieties. The dry wine produced from this vineyard is 95% Sagratino grapes, and it often reaches 14% alcohol by volume. It's almost a dessert wine, but it is delicious with local meat and stong-flavored cheese recipes.

The terminology associated with wine production includes the following words: vīnea or vīnētum (vineyard), vās vīnārius (wine cask), torcular (wine press), vindēmia (vintage), and vīnārius (vintner). Mustum refers to the unfermented or fermenting juice being processed for wine, or to new wine. Dēfructum is a sweet wine or grape syrup made from fruit juice boiled down to half its volume.

A resource on Italian wine regions includes maps, histories, and products of Latium, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany, Campania, Apulia, Sardinia, Sicily, and many others.

An article in the Encyclopedia Romana entitled Wine in the Ancient World provides a succint account of the ups and downs of viticulture in Italy and cites various Roman authors on the subject: Cato, Pliny, Varro, Columella, and Galen.

A description of a Roman wine press and other aspects of wine production are detailed in Lixivum to Lora: The Production of Wine.

Here are a few facts about the wine trade in Roman times.

  • The earliest wine trade began in the 6th century BC with the Etruscans, Greeks, and Carthaginians.
  • A great expansion of Roman wine exports began in the second half of the 2nd century BC to all new Roman territories.
  • Wine was particularly in demand from the late 2nd century in southern Gaul, where viticulture had not yet been introduced.
  • The wine trade from Italy reached a peak in the mid-1st century BC.
  • The decline of the Italian wine trade began at the end of the 1st century BC and resulted from competition with new vineyards in Spain and Gaul and traditional areas such as Rhodes and Cnidos.
  • Wine production continued in Italy until the 4th century at least.

    Some of the preceding information comes from Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, written by Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins and published in1994 by The Oxford University Press (New York).

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