In January of 2011, archaeologists announced the discovery of the oldest known facility for producing grape wine. Working in a network of caves in Armenia, they found fermentation jars, a 15-gallon basin for treading grapes, and the remains of crushed grapes, leaves, and vines. They dated the site's age at about 6,100 years. This is not the oldest evidence of grape wine—that would be the 7,400-year-old chemical residues recovered in the Zargos Mountains in Iran. The Armenian site, however, is the oldest known wine production facility.
Why mention this in Christianity Today? Because the "winery" was just about 60 miles from Mount Ararat, where, the Bible says, Noah's ark landed and thus near where he planted the first vineyard. "After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent" (Gen. 9:20-21, NLT).
In Divine Vintage,Hebrew Bible scholar (and former wine importer) Randall Heskett joins with oenologist (and president of the Institute of Masters of Wine) Joel Butler to trace the Bible's "wine trail" from Mount Ararat in the north to Egypt in the south. They devote the first half of their book to the wine trail documented in the Bible and other ancient texts, awakening the reader to the significance that wine plays in the economy of the ancient world and in the religious and economic life of Israel. The wine trail in the book's second half is literal rather than literary: the authors visit contemporary wineries in the lands of the Bible, providing a helpful guide for wine tourists in the Middle East.
The authors argue that wine is "a key protagonist ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more