An old factory reveals the secrets of winemaking in the Holy Land

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JERUSALEM, October 11 (Reuters) – A 1,500-year-old wine factory the size of a modern football field has been discovered in Israel, showing how wine growers have responded to the demand for high-quality white wine popular in the region. ancient world.

Digged in the town of Yavne, about 30 km (18 miles) south of Tel Aviv, the group of five presses was once capable of producing about 2 million liters (530,000 gallons) per year, the Food Authority said. antiques from Israel.

The stone structures were so well preserved that it is still easy to visualize the winemaking process – from the platform where the piles of grapes open up under their own weight, releasing “drop” juice for the best wines. , up to the grape crushing floor and collection basins.

Dozens of tall, slim wine jugs made in large on-site ovens that can hold up to 25 liters (6.6 gallons) have also been found.

The excavation team said they were known as “Gaza jars” after the nearby port from which they were shipped overseas. Such jars have been found all over Europe, proof that wine was in high demand.

Wine was a common drink in ancient times, served to children and adults alike, said Jon Seligman, one of the excavation directors. It was often used as a substitute for water, which was not always drinkable, or as an additive to improve its taste and nutritional value.

“Having five huge wine presses side by side shows that there is industrial design here,” said Seligman, describing the complex, which authorities plan to open to the public. “The peak of wine production that was associated with Gaza wines.”

And did the end product taste like today’s wines?

It’s impossible to know, Seligman said, while noting that ancient texts described the drink as a light white wine that was “palatable.”

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, editing by Jeffrey Heller and Ed Osmond

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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