Harvest, Grapes and Wine
inOctober 16, 2012 - 6:09am
"My Vintage Garden” celebrates gardens and flowers in antiques, collectibles and jewelry. Included are intriguing historical information, curious bits of folklore and a few useful gardening tips. Flowers have inspired art and design since ancient times, and their beauty, symbolism and sentimental meaning make our treasured collectibles even more precious.
Early autumn brings cool evenings, pumpkins at the roadside stands and a profusion of wine festivals! Even for those who do not partake of wine, there is an abundance of fruit, family activities and music.
People have been eating grapes and drinking wine for at least 7,000 years! Archaeologists discovered that wild grapes were gathered and eaten in the Stone Age. The first evidence of vineyard cultivation and wine-making comes from central Asia as early as 5500 BC. Although wild grape varieties are native to many parts of the world, including the Americas, only a few of these have been used in wine making.
Tomb paintings from ancient Egypt show wine-making scenes and vineyards with grapevines draped upon trellises and arbors. There are many references to the "fruits of the vine" and wine in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. While vineyard cultivation seems to have begun in the Caucasus, it eventually spread throughout central Asia. The Phoenicians took grapevines from Asia to Greece around 1000 BC, and as the Mediterranean climate suited grapes, and they were soon grown as far away as Italy and Spain.
The Romans introduced many of the techniques and terminology still used in wine making today. The Romans considered wine to be a healthy drink that could aid digestion, sleep and circulation. They generally diluted wine with an equal or greater amount of water, and sometimes added honey, herbs or fruit. In the early Roman times, women were forbidden to drink wine, but in the mid and later Roman Empire, wine was available to women, slaves, peasants, soldiers and commoners in occupied lands. As the Roman Empire expanded, so did the production of wine and grapes. More than 90 varieties of wine were produced in the provinces of Italy, and the Rhine valley (now Germany) was widely covered with grape plantations as early as 100 A.D.
On the darker side was the cult of Bacchus, the god of wine, or Dionysus, which is the Greek name for the deity. The origins of the cult are perhaps as old as winemaking itself, and cloaked in mystery and legend. The devotees of Bacchus are said to be mostly women. Through wine, dancing and chanting, these worshipers reached a trance-like state, in which they lost all inhibition and indulged in wild and lascivious behavior. At its core, the cult was based upon the life cycle of Bacchus, whose spirit was embodied in the grape vine. The cult was secretive, and no doubt some participants merely indulged in drunkenness and revelry, while a few were true Maenads, (whose name means “raving ones”) or wild women who lost all control and purportedly became violent and dangerous. In 186 AD Rome tried to ban these cults, but merely succeeded in driving them underground. The cults persisted for many years, but probably in a milder form.
Grapes, vines and leaves are frequently represented in jewelry and artwork of the Victorian era. The Victorians were very taken by the classical images of Greece and Rome, but often interpreted ancient myths to suit Victorian times. The Bacchante or Maenad was a popular subject on cameos, usually appearing as a sweet young lady with grape vines charmingly woven in her hair, but a few have a wild or tipsy look.
Devout Victorians may have chosen the representations of wine and grape vines due to their profound symbolism in Christianity. The grape symbolizes the bounty provided for us, and the wine of communion and the last supper. Grapevines were also often depicted on tombstones to represent life and immortality.
So when we visit a wine festival, we are participating in a human celebration that goes back thousands of years. Enjoy the grapes, the fruit, the harvest and the music and celebrate the abundance of this beautiful earth.
Please enjoy grapes on Ruby Lane, as well. A sincere thanks to all the shops below who allowed me to feature items from their shops and to use their photos.
LA Bazaar - Massive & Beautiful Limoge France 1900's Hand Painted "Purple, Red, Green, & Yellow Grapes" 18-5/8" Tray
The Bead Hive - White Wine Lover's Charm Bracelet with Sterling Silver Charms and Freshwater Pearls
Stone House Antiques - Antique Majolica Plate ~ Grapes and Strawberries
The Design Corner - Venetian Glass Grape Cluster Wine Decanter and Glasses
Waterside Dream - Antique Victorian Carved Shell Cameo Dionysus Silver Brooch
Southern Classics - Antique Limoge Handpainted Tankard Pitcher Set decorated with Grapes
Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry - Antique Victorian Mother of Pearl Grape Pin - Turquoise Glass Brooch - extended pin
Coyote Moon Antiques - Vintage Czech Czechoslovakian Glass Fruit Basket Lamp
Written by Suzan Miller
Suzans Treasures on Ruby Lane
About me: I have had the Ruby Lane shop “SuzansTreasures” for over 12 years. I have been involved with antiques and collectible business all my life, as my mother, grandparents and great-grandmother all had antique shops. I also have a life-long love of gardening. I am a member of several gardening societies and am a qualified flower show judge.