History of Sherry - Early History and Roman Times

Early History and Roman Times

The city of Cádiz was first founded sometime between 1104 BC and the 9th century BC as a trading post by the Canaanite tribe of the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians shared in the winemaking traditions of the Ancient Middle East and likely brought grapevines with them as they established their settlement. The Greeks soon followed and brought with them the tradition of making arrope, a dark colored sweet syrup made from unfermented grape juice that could be used to sweeten wine.

The area was thoroughly entrenched in winemaking by the time the Romans conquered the area in 206 BC after more than three centuries of rule by Carthage. Under the Carthaginians, the work of the early viticulturist Mago was widely followed in the area. The early Roman agriculturalist Columella was a native of Cádiz and was similarly influenced by the area's winemaking tradition. Soon wine from the region was being spread throughout the Roman Empire where it came to be known as Ceretanum or "wine from Ceret" which was an early name for the Sherry namesake of Jerez. The Roman poet Martial was one of the earliest writers to describe this primitive Sherry, which he said was highly regarded in Roman circles. During the Roman times, the practice of boiling grape must in order to concentrate the sugar as another means of sweetening the wine was starting to become widely used in the area.

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