THE ORIGINS OF WINE CIVILIZATION: An Exploration of Ancient Wines and Their Evolution

THE ORIGINS OF WINE CIVILIZATION: An Exploration of Ancient Wines and Their Evolution
South San Francisco, California (Jan. 28, 2016) The history of wine, while inextricably linked to today’s exponentially-growing wine industry, is often overlooked by professionals, enthusiasts and scientists alike. The earliest grape wine in the world was discovered by Dr. Patrick McGovern and colleagues in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, ca. 5400 B.C. (early Neolithic period). Since then, Vitis vinifera and wine have evolved, spread throughout the world, and become integral to many cultures’ medicines, religious practices, and social activities. 


On Sunday, March 13, 2016 from 10am to 5:30pm, San Francisco Wine School opened the doors of its new Wine Education Center for the first of its kind event exploring these ancient wines and their modern expressions with The Origins of Wine Civilization.

They were joined by noted academics and industry experts on a day of discovery and intrigue as they traversed the history of ancient wines and their evolution to modern expressions, tasting examples from the Caucasus and Eastern Mediterranean regions. This ground-breaking event merged the academic and commercial aspects of wine, explored the ancient and modern styles from where wine originated, and its place in today’s society.

San Francisco Wine School’s author of Inside Interviews, David Furer, hosted a full day of activities with some of the foremost authorities on ancient wines starting with a keynote address by the world's most acclaimed archaeologist of fermented beverages, Dr. Patrick McGovern. He brought us up-to-date on the most recent scientific developments. Said McGovern: 

"This gathering was the first time in the U.S. that wine lovers had the opportunity to tap into the tastes and rich history of where it all began.”

The day also included an address by Stanford University’s Dr. Patrick Hunt on the Civilization of Wine from the Phoenicians to the Egyptians and Canaanites and panel discussions with guided tastings on the Caucasus’ Georgia and Armenia and the Eastern Mediterranean’s Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Turkey, exploring the impact of history on modern day wines. Topics included the civilization of wine, indigenous and modern grape varieties, ancient and modern production styles, how this evolution has influenced contemporary restaurants and other retail businesses, and impacted consumer preferences.

Full day attendees also enjoyed a multi-ethnic luncheon with the speakers, panelists and modern wines from these regions.

Following the day’s seminars, a Grand Tasting of modern wines from these countries along with book signings by Professor McGovern and Dr. Hunt was held from 3:30pm to 5:30pm.

After the Grand Tasting, guests were invited to a very special happy hour downstairs at Armstrong Brewing Company where, along with their fabulous standards, they’re brewing up some special ancient recipes.



Host & Panel Moderator: David Furer
Journalist, Author, Marketer

Dr. Patrick McGovern
Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health, University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia

Dr. Patrick Hunt
Archeologist, Writer, Stanford University 

Wes Hagen
Winemaker, Viticulturist, Wine Educator, AVA Consultant and TED Talk Stage Nominee: History of Wine

Alberto Antonini
Winemaker Zorah Winery, Armenia and Enologist Gruppo Matura

Fadi Batarseh
Manager of the agronomical sector at Cremisan Wine Estate in Palestine

Jeff Berlin
Wine Director,
À Côté, Oakland

Bartholomew Broadbent 
Importer Chateau Musar, Lebanon

Joel Butler, MW
Author, Owner World of Wines

Darrell Corti 
Proprietor, Corti Bros.

Zorik Gharibian
Founder Zorah Winery, Armenia

Lisa Granik, MW

Paul Hobbs
Winemaker, Yacoubian-Hobbs Wines, Armenia

Robert Michero
Managing Director LAC-Carlo Products

Daniel O'Donnell 
Winemaker Kayra Winery, Turkey


10:00          Welcome: Master Sommelier David Glancy
                   Program Overview: Author David Furer

10:15          Keynote Address: The Archaeological And Chemical Hunt For The Origins Of Viniculture: Past, Present, and Future by Dr. Patrick McGovern

11:15          Caucasus, Panel Discussion, and Guided Tasting: Alberto Antonini, Jeff Berlin, Zorik Gharibian, Lisa Granik MW, Paul Hobbs, Robert Michero. Moderated by David Furer

12:15          Multi-ethnic Luncheon with Speakers and Panelists, welcoming address by Wes Hagen

1:45            The Civilization of Wine from the Phoenicians to the Egyptians & Canaanites by Dr. Patrick Hunt

2:15            Eastern Mediterranean Panel Discussion and Guided Tasting: Fadi Batarseh, Bartholomew Broadbent, Joel Butler MW, Darrell Corti, Daniel O'Donnell. Moderated by David Furer

3:30            Grand Tasting: Wines of Armenia, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey    

5:30            Happy Hour: Ancient Brews @ Armstrong Brewing Company


Sunday, March 13th, 2016
Full Day Event: 10:00am - 5:30pm
Grand Tasting: 3:30 - 5:30pm
Happy Hour: 5:30-7:30

San Francisco Wine School
415 Grand Ave. Suite 301
South San Francisco, CA 94080


Full Day Passes (10am-5:30pm) - $175 includes all Speaker & Panel Sessions, Luncheon, Grand Tasting, & Happy Hour

Grand Tasting Tickets (3:30pm-5:30pm) - $45 includes Grand Tasting & Happy Hour

Discounts were available for qualified press and trade.
Email for more information.


San Francisco Wine School strives to open up the world of wine to serious students and enthusiasts everywhere while helping people of all levels break into the wine industry, advance their career, or simply pursue their passions. Founded by Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator David Glancy, San Francisco Wine School is the largest wine school in the U.S., offering the most thoughtful approach to wine study.  Their inspired educational programs and workshops are taught in their state of the art wine education center and their cutting edge virtual classroom by industry-leading instructors from all major educational disciplines.  San Francisco Wine School’s curriculum features the best content in the business: expert course materials, carefully conceived wine flights, and in-depth blind tasting exercises designed to engage students, illuminate course content and enhance learning.  Their brand new sunlight-filled wine education center is conveniently located just 5 minutes from San Francisco International Airport and boasts 16-ft high coved ceilings, eight 12-ft tall arched windows, and gorgeous 180 degree views of the San Bruno Mountains, South San Francisco City Hall and the San Francisco Bay, making it the perfect place to enjoy classes, industry seminars and tastings and host a wide variety of private events.  

1. A representative sampling of the ca. 700 wine jars from the Scorpion tomb. (Photograph courtesy of German Institute of Archaeology, Cairo)

2. Wine amphora from tomb 217 of cemetery 4 at Gebel Adda (Egypt), dated to early Byzantine times (the Ballana Period of Lower Nubia, 4th-early 6th c. AD). Photograph courtesy of W. Pratt and the Royal Ontario Museum (Egyptian Dept. no. 65:3:63)

Check out our full schedule of programs, workshops and public events. Private, customized experiences and corporate training is also available.

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