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  • Date: 24-12-2015, 10:46
24-12-2015, 10:46

Azerbaijani wine history

Category: Azerbaijani wine history

Azerbaijan is an ancient land of winegrowing. Due to the favorable natural-climatic condition, numerous sorts of grape have been developed here. Variety of early ripen, fruitful, glycoside of grape species are still being cultivated.
Azerbaijani grape and grape products are famous for their calorific and refreshing value and they have always decorated for festivities with gentle aroma and pleasant taste.
As mentioned above, the territory of Azerbaijan has always been favorable for winegrowing cultivating grapevines and developing vinery.
Primitive men in this locality, alongside with fishing and hunting used to gather crops of wild grapes and berries to use as tasty food products.
As a result of his research work, the famous biologist NI Vavilov has identified that Azerbaijan was the center in Trans-Caucasus where variety of natural plants as well as vine grow.
Having besieged the old city of Barda, Alexander of Macedon had come to an agreement with the local ruler Nushaba to accept the tax partly with wine produced in this locality.
Assyrian books mention wine as a tax item collected in the northwest Mede. In 714 BC, people of Manna supplied the Assyrian troops with flour and wine when Sharon II attacked Urartu. Archeological materials are said to be the main resources to enlighten the socio-economical life of Azerbaijani people, moreover for the learning of history of winegrowing in Azerbaijan. Archeological literature provides lots of information demonstrating the high level of vine cultivation in Azerbaij an. Archeological heirloom contains samples of dried bunches of grapes found under the soil as well as in jars preserving shape and size. In 1962, near the Agstafa region in Shomutepa, remainders of grape plants and seeds were found dating back to the V-IV millennium BC. Researches depict the traces of cultivation in grape seeds. Due to these findings, it was proven that there has been 7 thousand years of vine cultivation in Azerbaijan.
During the archeological excavations, seeds, stone tools and other materials along with cultural samples were found in Uzerliktepe monument in the vicinities of Agdam, Khanlar region and in Nakhchivan monuments depict the fact of importance of vine-growing in the tribal as well as everyday life of the inhabitants of Azerbaijan in the Bronze Age. The seeds found in Uzerliktepe are 3500 years old. Researchers confirm that they were table grapes. The seeds found in Uzerliktepe are of different size, the biggest one is 6,5 mm and each grape is 18-20 mm. The findings from the area of ​​Ganjachay show that in the Bronze Age, the inhabitants of this locality did gardening, as well as engaged in winegrowing. Chemical analysis of the substance in a clay dish belonging to the late Bronze Age showed that it consisted of wine pulp and wine seeds. In the cemeteries of the Khanlar region dating back to the Bronze Age, where Yaloylutepe culture was spread, variety of jewelry, guns, dishes, food items, as well as wine jars and coops for wine preservation have been discovered. In the bottom of the dishes, also have been identified wine pulps and seeds. Obviously they beleived that they have faith in life after death, the ancient people buried dead bodies together with household items.
There are detailed facts testifying the development of agriculture, gardening and winegrowing in Azerbaijan. Alongside with grapevine, there have been found remains and coops for preservation of wine, gardening tools, shovels, knives, scissors, stones for smashing grapes. Other dishes like strainers, jugs, jars, mugs and cups were among them. Stones for smashing grapes have also been discovered in the area of ​​Nakhchivan, in Sharur region in the villages of Givrag, Shahtakhtli-Garabaglar, Galachig and Kultepe II inhabited areas under the deep layers of soil. There is a deep pit and a gutter to streaming the wine on the stones. These discoveries have also proved the old history of vine growing which was widely spread in the II millennium BC.
In 1982, during the archeological excavations in the vicinities of Borsunlu village of Terter region was found a huge clay coop-jar.
A clay coop-jar with a hole in the bottom was used for smashing grapes.
In V century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus gave information on winegrowing in the territory of Azerbaijan in VI BC. He wrote: "Azerbaijani grape was even famous in Iran, Babylonia and Greece for its abundance, quality and taste". The great Pliny from Rome (79-23 years BC) spoke with admiration about the Azerbaijan's great wealth and high agricultural level of winegrowing. He wrote: "I have never eaten such sweet grapes. This nation cultivates the land better than Egyptians".
The famous Greek geographer and historian Strabo (I century BC I century AD) speaking about the economy and farming in the life of the ancient inhabitants of Azerbaijan, notified the specific role and importance of winegrowing. He wrote: "They do not plant grapevine in deep trenches. They simply put the plants into shallow pits and the plants give harvest during 5 years. The edges of the plants are cut off once in five years. The old plants yield plenty of harvest and some part of it stays untouched on the branches ".
Famous Azerbaijan geographer and historian Abdurrashid Bakuvi (the second half of the XIV century BC the beginning of XV century AD) gave information about the importance of winegrowing and the abundance of harvest in Baki and in its remote gardens.
Merchants and travelers took the best clones of vine to far away countries. The famous traveler and geographer Adam O'Leary wrote that the first grapevines were brought to Astrakhan by Azerbaijani merchants, namely by merchants from Shirvan. The well-known Turkish geographer
Ovliya Chelebi traveled to Azerbaijan in the years 1647-1649 and in his work consisting of 10 parts "Seyahetname" (Travel book) mentioned the names of countries he visited and wrote about Azerbaijan.
Due to the books dedicated to the researches of grapevine, it becomes clear that in XIX century this part of agriculture developed in two directions: till the first half of XIX century winegrowing developed as a natural economy, beginning from the second half of XIX century in connection with the export of grapevines to Russia, winerowing developed in a new direction. Thus, giving start to the development of grape products. So in the 60-70s of XIX century, winemaking manufactory was created in Azerbaijan.
The traveler and geographer Adam O'leary gave the description of grapevines in Azerbaijan and testified existence of more than 600 clone varieties of grapevine here.
Masters of winegrowing in Azerbaijan have made serious researches and created number of new clones of grapevine. The clones have been grown adequately relevant to the soil and natural requirements of each consequent climatic zone of the republic. They were consequently named for their shape, size, taste, density, etc. According to their color, the clones were named white, black, grayish, yellow, yellow-berry, violet, blue, black sarma etc. According to their quality, taste and aroma, they were named gulabi, kishmishi (raisin like), shakari (with sugar), tam-bayi (with tabacco), shirayi (juicy), karimgandi (with sugar), etc. According to the shape and size of grape, they were named gushurayi (birdheart), misqali, tulkuguyrugu (foxtail), davagozu (camel's eye), tulagozu (dog's eye), kechimemeshi (goat's breast), gelinbarmagi (bride's finger) etc. According to the thickness of the skin, they were named dashuzum (stone grape), galingabig (thick skinned), nazikgabig (thin skinned), etc. According to the size of the seeds and shape of the clusters, they were named sapdadurmaz, hachabash, bendi, tabarya, etc. Some spesices were named after the places where they grew: Beylagani, Tabrizi, Shabrani, Derbendi, Ordubadi, Shirvanshahi, Tatli, Merandi, Medrasa, Shahtakhi etc.
Some clones of grapevine were named after the person who created them. Khalili, Huseyni, Askeri, Sakina khan-im, Mukhtari, Agadayi, Maleyi and some other names can be shown as an example.
As a result of certain historic and economic relations, variety of clones of grapevine has been brought to Azerbaijan. Owing to the facts, they were all named after the places they were brought from. For example, in VII-IX centuries, during the Arab invasion, a clone of a vine grape grown in the city of Taif in Arabia was brought to the Central Asia. Later, this clone was widely spread and became popular with the name Tayfi from the Asian origin.
Azerbaijani grape growers have learned to grow new clones of grapevine in different climatic zones. For example, from Georgia Rkasiteli, Tavkveri, from Crimea Muskat, Berdo, Pino and Kaberne, Izabella, Risling, Aligote brought to Azerbaijan from Europe in the middle of XIX century.
Some special clones grown in Azerbaijan are being successfully cultivated in the Central Asia, Crimea, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, etc.
Yellow and amber colored Khazari clone grown in Nakhchivan is the remedy for a number of illnesses and empowers heart, enlightens eyes. Sheveyi grape grown in this land is medicine for eyes, blood and strengthens the human body. There have been 100 sorts of grapevine in Nakhchivan.
The Absheron Peninsula was one of the historic areas where especially vinery was developed. In Apsheron the grapevines grew horizontally, naturally spreading branches and shoots over the sand. In this position the grape plant gets damaged and becomes usually ill. But here North winds called "the Nord" save them from different illnesses. Only for this reason, the grapevine was grown successfully and willingly in this part of the country.
There are over 50 sorts of grapevine in Absheron and among them are Ag shani, Gara and Ala Shani, Sarigile, Khatini, Pishraz, Goybendem, Rish-baba, Khalbeser, Kechiemjeyi, Giziluzum, Kishmishler, Movuju, Gavangir, Salyani, Zabrat grapes etc . In comparison with the other regions, most clones preserved here are due to a few large economic plantations in this locality. Most of the clones can be found in the private gardens of the population of Baki. For the level of sweetness, the shanis are the best among the clones. Sugar productivity of grapes mainly depends on the microelements contained in the sand of the peninsular.
There are comparable sorts of wine in Azerbaijan for the world arena due to the land quality and climatic conditions. The people of this locality could collect variety of clones of grapevine as the years passed by. There exist valuable ideas of outstanding travelers, scholars and statesmen about winegrowing, grape species and wines of Azerbaijan.
Being in Baki in 1936, the famous Russian writer Maxim Gorki tasted Azerbaijani wine and proposed a toast: "You are requested to raise your glasses to the health of the nation who fills sunbeams into wine goblets to drink". These words are really wise as a man can not get good wine without the rays of the sun. There are many regions in Azerbaijan that benefit from plenty sunshine. The clones that produce little sugar in this condition are useful as table grapes and for juice.
There are 20 thousand grapevine sorts in the world but only a few sorts of grapes are used as a treatment. (Ag Sashla White Sashla). The best grape for treatment is said to be Tabrizi. In Azerbaijan they use Tabrizi as a medicine. For Novruz Holiday, the people buy well-preserved Tabrizi to decorate their tables though on the eve of Novruz this grape is very expensive and rare.
In spite of this value, this sort has never been duly introduced in the scientific literature.
There is not a grapevine as praised as Azerbaijan Shirvanshahi. The wine Kurdamir Kagor produced from this grape is famous worldwide. Since the Azerbaijani scholars have not highlighted their research results on time in media and press, our insidious neighbors the Armenians have miss-appropriated our achievements in this field. They have named "Hachabashi" from Nakhchivan as "Ararati"; Kechiemjeyi from Agdam was named as "Isaptuk", Misgali and Kharji as "mzgali" and "voskeat".
In Azerbaijan, winegrowing reached certain level of development in all stages of vine history.
But its development in the industrial scale belongs to the 70s of XX century due to the efforts of our national leader Heydar Aliyev. Thanking to his national fortitude and strong will, it was possible to direct allocations from the budget of the USSR for the development of winegrowing and wine making.
Over 2 million tons of grapes was collected in the vineyards in 1984, setting up the record in the production of vine and average vine production from each hectare (which was 90-100 metric-centners differing greatly from the production in 60s which was 40- 50 metric centners) as a result of strict discipline created by Heydar Aliyev. In those years, as he said himself, "agriculture of winegrowing did not keep pace with scientific cultivation of vine". Unfortunately, Scientific-Research Institute of Winegrowing and Winemaking established by H. Aliyev in 1976 din't give desirable research works to agriculture and science. In most of winegrowing countries, variety of ampelographes, atlases, albums and catalogues were created whereas in Azerbaijan we did not have enough literature on this field of science. "Ampelographe of the Azerbaijan SSR" which was compiled in 1973 did not reflect any traces of methodolgy either.During the last 18 years, 280 thousand hectares of Azerbaijan vine was reduced to 20-30 hectares. It was due to the scattered growth of vineyards, application of inadequate differentiated technology and lower productivity.
In 2002, Milli Mejlis (Azerbaijan Parliament) adopted the law on development of vinery and winemaking in Azerbaijan. On the same date, Presidential Order was issued for the realization of that law. All this and the program named "Socio-Economic Development of the Regions in 2004-2008" signed by President Ilham Aliyev gave positive impact to the expansion of winegrowing, as a result of which the number of vineyards were increased.
Under the auspices of the government, short and long term credits are given to the vine growers, capital is invested for the setting up new vineyards and vine refining and concessions are made to the vine growers for the exploration of agricultural technology brought from abroad. Open Joint-Stock Company "Ganja Wine-2", Joint-Stock Company functioning in Jalalabad in the village of Allar and "Shishtepe" Joint-Stock Company (Shamkir) are the striking samples of this program. Creation of new clones of vine and cultivation on the bases of new technology brought fame to the Open Joint-Stock Company "Ganja Wine-2" and visiting Ganja, President Ilham Aliyev expressed his great consent in connection with the sensational results achieved by this Company.
Most of the vine growers refer to Academy of Agriculture of Azerbaijan intending to obtain advanced expertise, up-to-date machinery to grow quality product nowadays.
Differentiated agro-technical machinery is crucial in progressive winegrowing. The differentiation means application of the required machinery in accordance with the biological characteristics of the plant. Last 15-20 years, we determined that it is possible to grow quality crop in the local conditions of Ganja cutting away 60-65 percent of blooms and bloom groups of Alexandrian Muscat. After having analyzed the potential capacity of grape plants, it became possible to get 800-1000 centners of Bayanshire clone with the help of application of Intensive Cultivation Technology. Differentiation is the main criteria in vinery and winemaking. According to this principle, it is crucial to identify soil-climatic zone and agro-machinery for winegrowing whereas in winemaking soil-climatic type and refining technology should be carefully chosen. There is a good example proving this: there was a Rhein Ristling vineyard comprising
47 hectares in Germany and they have discovered a strange difference there. This small area comprised 7 different varieties of soil and it was divided into 7 parts. As the wine was of different quality, the prices of wines differed.
As the vineyards in our republic are in different climatic zones, the differentiation is of great importance. But sometimes we did not take into consideration this variety while growing vine and applied general technology. Vine clones should be carefully chosen from this point of view. Each vine grower ought to have some knowledge and experience about the vine clones and sorts
Thus, it is important to make progress in getting new clones and cultivating the right clone in the right agrarian -climatic soil. There are accomplished methods for clone determination and description. Any unknown clone can be identified methodologically. The written materials as well as photographs clearly illustrate any clone type. In comparison with the old days, now it is possible to describe grape variety much better.
Knowledge on morphological factors does not mean the complete knowledge on the sort. The whole information is given in special ampelographer.
There is detailed information on each sort in world ampelographes of different winegrowing companies.
Having obtained enough information on the certain clones, a winemaker and a winegrower analyzes pros and cons bearing in mind soil-climatic data.
It is advisable to benefit from up-to-date technology for winegrowing as the primitive and simple methods do not keep pace with the modern cultivation technology.
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