Wine Museum

3 Nov

Having spent the harvest season in the “green heart of Italy” as Umbria is loving known, Ev and Claudia thought it only appropriate to take us to the wine museum of Italy in Torgiano. Let it be known that not everyone has such gracious hosts when participating in a work-exchange program. We have been incredibly lucky to have bosses/hosts parents that take us with them to see the country and encourage our learning about Italy through experiencing it. Although the museum was initially funded and continues to be supported by a local winery, Lungarotti, the museum provides completely independent information on when and how wine came to be the delicious nectar of the gods that we enjoy today.

The Roman god of wine, Dionysus

Most likely having origins similar to humanity in the middle east, it is believed that wine was discovered by accident while trying to save grapes. After discovering the pleasant drink that crushed and fermented grapes turn into, the rest is history. All cultures from the Ming Dynasty to the Romans have cultivated grapes for the production of wine. Wine was not only used socially as we enjoy it today, but often used as a tonic or medicine and as the only pure thing to drink, as water was often contaminated.


Wine “flasks” shaped with holes in the middle to be strung on a rope and carried by your animal

We were able to see ancient practices of trellising the vines, presses, tanks and barrels. It was cool to see the way of trellising grapes that we still have examples of on the farm here in Todi. The practice has been given up for more practical ways of grape-growing, but for centuries vineyard owners would plant apple or other fruit trees in rows as in an orchard and than plant the vine right next to the trunk of the tree. The grape vine would grow up the tree and through the branches. It’s funny because it has the illusion of a grape tree, and was practical because you were harvesting two crops in one space, but the quality of wine was being hindered by too much shade from the leaves and only half the nutrients because sharing the soil with the tree. Most now use the wire trellising system in some capacity and have a higher quality grape.


Huge wine press continuously used in Italy since the 1600s!

As much as it was a wine museum, it was also a ceramics museum. The reason for all the ceramics was to feature how wine has been stored, poured and carried for thousands of years. It was magnificent to see the ingenuity of thousand year old flasks (see picture above) and what fun the artists had when making pitchers with trick holes so the wine would only come out by holding it in a very particular way. They had so many examples of these “trick” pictures. I told Mitch that being on this trip has helped me get a grasp on dates. Since the U.S. has such a recent exploration it’s easy to think that 1776 is a long time ago, and you always hear “This bla bla bla was built in bla bla bla BC” but it never registered in my head until recently that I was looking at a wine vase in perfect condition, crafted beautifully and that’s 2 thousand years old! I have finally gotten a grasp on the backward counting of BC and have a much better appreciation for everything from pottery to architecture.

Wine is amazing, just when you think you’re finally starting to get a grasp on it you visit the wine museum and your brain is flooded with information again! Wine is agricultural yet classy, fun yet sophisticated and ancient but ever-changing…basically awesome. It was very educational and enjoyable to see how wine went from an accident to grapes being the most cultivated crop in the world and it only continues to grow. This is definitely a site to see if you are planning on a trip to Italy.


One Response to “Wine Museum”

  1. Mom November 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Well it sounds beautiful, but since you’re coming home I guess I don’t have an excuse to spend the money going to Italy anytime soon. I have better things to spend money on right now “WEDDING”!!!!!!!! Have fun!! Love ya!!

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