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The origins of the vine, and therefore of the grape, date back to something like 200 million years ago, when the oldest fossils of the genus of “Ampelidee”, found in the Caucasus, date back. Much more recent, of course, is the domestication of the vine and then viticulture, which begins around 4,000 BC. C. in Mesopotamia, and then, first through the Greeks and then the Romans, first conquered Europe and then, hand in hand with the discoveries and colonizations of the most remote lands, the New and the Very New World, namely the Americas and the ‘Oceania. Traces of grapes, however, are found even before these dates, so much so that the oldest grape of Valpolicella, for example, is 6,300 years old, and comes from the prehistoric site of Colombare di Villa, in Negrar di Valpolicella, already inhabited between Neolithic and the Bronze Age, as reported by the results that emerged from the excavation campaigns conducted by the Department of Cultural and Environmental Heritage of the University of Milan (started in 2019), in collaboration with the Superintendence of Archeology of Verona, Rovigo and Vicenza and the Municipality of Negrar di Valpolicella, directed by Umberto Tecchiati, professor of Prehistory and Prehistoric Ecology at the University of Milan.

The discovery of vine pollen and grape seeds in the most ancient archaeological layers confirmed that the plant, although probably in the wild, had to be cared for in this area of ​​the Lessini Mountains as early as 6,300 years ago, in the recent Neolithic. Different types of samples have been taken from the archaeological layers: of soil, animal bones, plant micro and macrorests, and the palynological, archaeo-botanical and archaeozoological researches confirm that the Colombare di Villa site was inhabited by peasants, who cultivated cereals and they raised pets. To obtain further confirmation on the possible continuity of production activities over the millennia – considering that Valpolicella is today one of the most important wine-growing sectors in the Belpaese – the excavation staff intends to continue the laboratory analyzes, this time especially on the remains of the ceramic containers. , looking for traces of wine. In fact, vinification was already possible in prehistoric times, but the confirmation that in the Colombare site the grapes certainly consumed were also transformed into wine will only be possible with the continuation of the campaign. The results that emerged from the latest laboratory analyzes were added to those from the stratigraphic excavation and topographic surveys carried out during the 2021 excavation campaign, which ended at the end of September, after six weeks of research, confirming the site’s frequentation for a very long period, of 3,000 years, and reaffirming the fundamental importance of the production center for the Lessini area, then as now.

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Marco Ribaudo

Marco Ribaudo

For the love of food and wine! Marco Ribaudo, Certified Sommelier, with 25 years in the food and beverage industry now invites you to join him in his latest adventure, the opening of la Cucina del Vino to share his culture and passion for creating unforgettable memories around the table.

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