Dating the beginning of the Roman viticultural model in the Western Mediterranean: The case study of Chianti (Central Italy)
OPEN PloS one | 16 Nov 2017
R Aversano, B Basile, MP Buonincontri, F Carucci, D Carputo, L Frusciante and G Di Pasquale
Although domestication of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) has been extensively documented, the history of genotype selection and evolution of vineyard management remain relatively neglected fields of study. The find of 454 waterlogged grapevine pips from a well-dated Etrusco-Roman site in the Chianti district (Tuscany, Central Italy) is an extraordinary chance to gain insights into the progress of viticulture occurring in a key historical period in one of the world’s most famous wine regions. The molecular and geometrical analyses of grape seeds showed (a) the presence in the site of different grapevine individuals and (b) a sudden increase in pip size, occurring at around 200 BC, whic explainable by the selection and introduction of new varieties. In this period, the Etruscans settlers in Chianti were stimulated by northward-expanding Roman culture to use novel vineyard management practices. We hypothesize that one of the most important innovations may have been the introduction of pruning, inducing vine physiological conditions more favorable to pip growth. Such changes were the consequence of specific entrepreneurial choices made by the Romans in a period of economic investment in grape cultivation and wine making to satisfy the increased trade demand after the conquest of the Central-Western Mediterranean basin.
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