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

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

2-Day Special Event

Multi-Day Program

Friday, June 9, 2017 - 6:30 p.m., to Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1W0002
For 6/9: Embassy of Georgia
1824 R St NW, Washington, DC
For 6/10: S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Select your Registration

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, Semina Consulting - Managing Director, EVN Wine Academy - Co-Founder

Paul Hobbs, winemaker, Yacoubian-Hobbs Wines


Lisa Granik, consultant, Georgia Wine Agency; Master of Wine

Lado Uzunashvili, Oenologist, managing Partner at Mukado Wines, Georgia. Researcher of Georgian Wine History and its Antique Winemaking Techniques


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

Buffet Menu

Falafel Crusted Pacific Salmon
brown butter-beluga lentil salad, crushed pistachio, blanched red beets, mache, chermoula sauce

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad
cherry and grape tomatoes, green and yellow peppers, kalamata olives, crumbled feta, lemon-oregano vinaigrette

Tuxedo Orzo
black and white orzo, green onions, gold raisins, dark raisins

Golden Potatoes
lemon zest, cracked black pepper, oregano

Blood Orange, Fennel, and Arugula Salad
shaved pecorino-romano cheese, balsamic-orange vinaigrette

Sticks and Straws
flavored bread sticks, pletzel, parmesan cheese straws

Confections & Non-Alcoholic Beverage Menu

Marbled Cranberry and Pistachio Bark
white and dark chocolate, sun-dried cranberries

phyllo pastry, chopped nuts, spices, honey-lemon syrup

Coffee and Tea
cream, sugar, sweetener, lemon 

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 in 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; Master of Wine


Fadi Batarseh, winemaker and agronomist, Cremisan Wines

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, Keush Wines
Georgia Bagrationi, Pheasant’s Tears, Schuchmann Winery
Palestine Cremisan Wines 
Turkey Kayra Winery, Kavaklidere Winery, Urla Vines, Corvus Wines, Suvla Vines


NOTE: Programming specifics are subject to change