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Pompei (I)
Pompéi (F)
Pompeya (ES)
Pompéia (PO)
Pompeii (N)

The famous ancient Roman city was located at the foot of Vesuvius in Campania. It was the centre of a flourishing wine culture around the southern bay of Naples with vineyards from the slopes of Vesuvius to Sorrento. When the Greeks colonized this area around 1,000 BC, they called it Oinotria (meaning "land of vines raised on stakes"). They brought their vines with them, including the Murgentina, which had previously been tested in Sicily, and which thrived particularly well on the volcanic slopes and was called the "Pompeian Grape". The vineyards of Pompeii were the main source of wine for Rome - the capital of the Roman Empire. The wine was mostly exported there in amphorae. In 79 A.D. the four cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and Oplontis were completely destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius and subsequent ash and rock rains.

Pompeji - Vulkanwolke und Ampitheater von oben

The picture on the left shows the huge volcanic cloud, the picture on the right the excavated large amphitheatre. Through the lava also numerous wine artefacts were preserved, so to speak. In the ruins you can still see more than 200 taverns and taverns, in a street near a big public bath there are eight in a row. In one of them, you can even still see the "wine list" painted on the wall - the most expensive wine is a Falernian by four aces. Other house walls show numerous motifs of winemaking and wine enjoyment. A fresco, for example, shows the wine god Bacchus next to the stylised Vesuvius. Around Pompeii one has discovered numerous villas, about 30 of which were wineries. In some of them, pressing devices were found, from which pipes led to the dolium (fermentation tanks). The picture shows the panorama of the forum with the still active 1.281 m high Vesuvius in the background. Since the last eruption in 1944 it has been in a resting phase.

Ausgrabungen in Pompeji

The eruption of Vesuvius put an end to all this and overnight the wine supply of Rome collapsed. Many vineyards were planted around Rome at the expense of grain fields. Within a few years, an immense number of small wineries were created, to the displeasure of the big entrepreneurs. Probably the prohibition issued by Emperor Domitian (51-96) in 92 to plant new vineyards in Italy was a consequence of this. The Roman author Pliny the Elder (23-79), who died in connection with the eruption of Vesuvius, reports on the wine from Pompeii and the pronounced drinking culture of its inhabitants. He also reports about a local vine Holconia.

By the way, since 1997 the "Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei", in collaboration with the Mastroberardino Winery, has had one hectare of vineyards within the excavation area planted with vines again according to Roman cultivation methods and also processed according to ancient wine pressing methods. Since wine was one of the most important export goods of the Pompeians, this project aims to research cultivation and production processes in the first century AD. See also under Ancient grape varieties, Ancient wines and Satyricon.

Picture top left: From MapMaster - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Picture top right: By Fer.filol - Own work, public domain, link

Picture below By Heinz-Josef Lücking, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, Link

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