The former USSR state in the heart of Central Asia has an ancient wine-growing culture. In the Ferghana Valley (Uzbek Fargʻona vodiysi), grapes were already being cultivated in the 6th century BC and supplied to the Chinese Empire. This is proven by cultivated grape seeds from the 5th century BC found near the city of Samarkand. Towards the end of the 7th century AD, the Arabs conquered the country and the viticulture that had flourished until then was converted to the production of table gra pes and sultanas due to the religiously based ban on alcohol. This still accounts for a large share today, more than half of the varieties (especially Kishmish = Sultana) are used for this purpose.