This is an ancient pressing platform from Lattara, seen from above. Note the spout for drawing off a liquid. It was raised off the courtyard floor by four stones. Masses of grape remains were found nearby. (Credit: Photograph courtesy of Michael Py, copyright lUnité de Fouilles et de Recherches Archéologiques de Lattes.) France is renowned the world over as a leader in the crafts of viticulture and winemaking -- but the beginnings of French viniculture have been largely unknown, until now.
Etruscan amphorae and a limestone pressing platform unearthed at the ancient coastal port site of Lattara in southern France provide the earliest known archaeological evidence of grape wine from this country, and point to the origins of French winemaking around 500 – 400 BC.
This early wine may have been used as medicine, and likely was imbibed by the wealthy and powerful before eventually becoming a popular beverage enjoyed by the masses, researchers said. The artefacts found at the French port site of Lattara, near the southern city of Montpellier, suggest that winemaking took root in France as early as 500 BC, as a result of libations and traditions introduced by the ancient Etruscans in what is now Italy.
Scrapings from the bottoms of 2500 year old pottery containers show that the local Celts began making wine at Lattara (France) by the end of the fifth century. The wine was flavored with herbs like thyme and basil. The research by McGovern shows that wine making was learned from the Etruscans -- grape growing and winemaking techniques. There was an outpost of Etruscans on France's Mediterranean shore.
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