Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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The vine, including its chief product, wine, is mentioned more often in the Bible than any other plant. The Book of Genesis presents the invention of viticulture as a step in the development of civilization. ‘And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and was drunken’ (Gen. 9. 20–1). The original Hebrew text and its translations state clearly that Noah was the first to make wine, just as Abel was the first shepherd, Cain the first city builder, Jabel the first dweller in tents and keeper of cattle, Jubal the first musician, and Tubal-cain the first smith (Gen. 4. 2–22). By becoming the first winemaker, Noah fulfils his father’s prophecy: ‘this same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed’ (Gen. 5. 29). viticulture is divinely ordained: the art of winemaking will soften the rigours of human existence in a fallen world.