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The Origins of Wine Civilization: From Ancient Vines to Modern Expressions

2-Day Special Event

Friday, June 9, 2017 - 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Opening Reception)

Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Seminar) and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Grand Tasting)
Code: 1W0002
$275 Member
$325 Non-Member
Text Size
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The ancient technique of making wine in buried qvevri (egg-shaped earthenware vessels) dates to the 6th millennium B.C., Georgia (UNESCO)

Please Note: If you are only interested in the Grand Tasting option of this event, please click here.

Location Note: The Opening Reception on June 9 will be held at the Embassy of Georgia (1824 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009; Dupont Circle is the nearest Metro station) while all activities on June 10 will be held at the S. Dillon Ripley Center

In this unique 2-day event, experts in the culture, history, science, and production of wine explore the link between the earliest of wine-making traditions and the wines we enjoy today. Explore wines with origins dating back to ancient civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean and Caucasus and the important role wine played in those societies. Two panel presentations at which several wines will be featured, a lunch featuring dishes from these wine regions paired with complementary wine selections, and a concluding Grand Tasting enhance the experience.



6:30–9 p.m.  Welcome

Begin your wine adventure as Ambassador David Bakradze welcomes you to an evening at the elegant Embassy of Georgia, where you’ll mingle with specialists from all areas of the wine-making process. Enjoy traditional Georgian small bites and wine pairings from the Caucasus and Eastern Mediterranean, as well as a selection of Georgian wines exclusive to this event.




10–11 a.m.  The Archaeological and Chemical Hunt for the Origins of Viniculture: Past, Present, and Future

Follow a tantalizing trail of archaeological and chemical clues around the world and through the millennia as Patrick E. McGovern tells the compelling story of humanity's ingenious, intoxicating quest for the perfect drink. From Phoenicia and Egypt, wine culture spread from east to west as it moved from Crete, Etruria, and on to France. As medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine laid the foundation for civilization itself. This heritage is also the basis for the marvelous wines of the Old World, and later, the many wine cultures of the New World.  

McGovern is the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.   

11–11:15 a.m.  Break

Photo by David Furer
Photo by David Furer

11:15­ a.m.–12:15 p.m.  Wine’s Mountaintop Beginnings: A Panel on the Wines of the Caucasus

Wine grapes as we know them originated in the lower reaches of the Caucasus, the mountain range separating Europe and Asia. Winemaking and its enjoyment began here, continuing today in both traditional and contemporary expressions. A writer for media outlets in the U.S. and Europe and host of numerous international conferences, David Furer moderates a panel of wine experts and professionals of Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey (both in person and via video conference) to explore the history and current state of Caucasus wines. A tasting spotlights products from the region’s finest wineries.   

Furer, a former contributing editor of Santé and Sommelier Journal, writes for wine-focused media outlets and has hosted international wine conferences in Hong Kong and Spain.



Vahe Keushguerian, winemaker, Karas Wines

Paul Hobbs, winemaker, Yacoubian-Hobbs Wines


Lisa Granik, consultant, Georgia Wine Agency; member, the Institute of Masters of Wine


Daniel O’Donnell, winemaker, Kayra Winery

Mehmet Yorukoglu, CEO, House of Burgundy importers

12:30–2 p.m.  International Winemakers Lunch, with Pairings

Remarks: Dave McIntyre, Washington Post wine Columnist, winemaker, viticulturist, wine educator, and American Viticultural Area consultant.

Photo by David Furer
Photo by David Furer

2­–3 p.m.  The Origin of Wine Grape Varieties

There are 5,000 to 10,000 grape varieties in the world, of which 1,368 are currently used to make commercial wines. The vast majority of wine grapes descend from the wild grapevine (Vitis vinifera subsp. silvestris), which was domesticated several thousands of years ago. José Vouillamoz traces the journey that brought the wild vine to your wine glass, covering plant reproduction and genetics, foundational varieties, the evolution of the language of wine, and other related topics.

Vouillamoz, a botanist and geneticist, is an independent researcher at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

3–3:15 p.m.  Break

3:15­–4 p.m.  Wine Culture’s Launch Site: Panel on the Wines of the Eastern Mediterranean

The culture of wine came to the fore when the Phoenicians recognized the value of the grapes produced by their neighbors in the Caucasus, extending their growth within their own borders and beyond. Get insights from a panel of noted experts and wine professionals (participating in person and via video conference) from Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, and taste products from leading wineries from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Moderated by David Furer.



Lina Slutzkin, founder and CEO, Kadma Winery


Bartholomew Broadbent, owner, Broadbent Selections

Israel and Palestine

Joel Butler, co-author, Divine Vintage; co-owner, World of Wines; member, Institute of Masters of Wine

4–4:15 p.m.  Closing remarks by David Furer and wrap up


GRAND TASTING (4:30 to 6:30 p.m.)

Participating wineries (to date)

Armenia Yacoubian-Hobbs Wines, Karas Wines, Trinity Canyon Vineyards, Keush Wines
Georgia Bagrationi, Pheasant’s Tears, Schuchmann Winery
Israel Kadma Winery
Lebanon Chateau Musar, Chateau Kefraya, Chateau Ksara, Massaya, IXSIR
Jordan Zumot Winery
Palestine Cremisan Wines 
Turkey Kayra Winery, Kavaklidere Winery, Urla Vines, Corvus Wines, Suvla Vines


NOTE: Programming specifics are subject to change


For 6/9: Embassy of Georgia
1824 R St NW, Washington, DC
For 6/10: S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW