Oldest Winery
© Huliq
A cave excavation in the mountains of Armenia has yielded what researchers believe to be the oldest known winery in existence.

The ancient winery, estimated to be approximately 6,000 years old, was unearthed by a collaborate group of international researchers working on the excavation of a cave in an area known as Areni-1, according to the findings published online Tuesday in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Artifacts discovered in the oldest known winery include a wide basin connected to a large vat, which is thought to have once been used to press wine grapes, fermentation jars and other cup and bowl artifacts used for drinking wine.

Areni, a southeastern village located in the Vayots Dzor province of the Fertile Crescent region of Armenia, is known for its exceptional wine growing and wine making areas and has a rich winemaking history. The co-director of the excavation, UCLA's Gregory Areshian, indicated that the recent discovery is perhaps the earliest known example of a full wine making operation.

Wine making, also known as vinification, is an age-old process of harvesting and crushing grapes to produce a juice that will then be fermented to produce wine.

The only findings relatively equivalent to that of Areshian and his international team were the wine making artifacts observed in the Egyptian tomb of King Scorpion I, which date back roughly 5,100 years ago.

The ancient Armenian winery is only the latest discovery by this same group of international researchers in the area of Areni-1.

In June of 2010, archaeologists working in the same area unearthed what is now believed to be the oldest shoe in the world.

The 5,500-year-old shoe, which dates back to around the time of 3500 B.C. was so well preserved that Armenian PhD student Diana Zardaryan remarked at the time, "I was amazed to find that even the shoe-laces were preserved."

Following the discovery of the world's oldest shoe, researchers again made a phenomenal finding in the same Areni-1 cave region, with the discovery of the oldest skirt in the world in the same Areni-1 area, a skirt that was estimated to be 5,900-years-old.

The international excavation in the caves of the Areni-1 area began in 2007 as a joint operation between Armenian, U.S. and Irish scientists, who have worked diligently to restore and understand Armenia's ancient development and rich historical past.