By Patti Wigington
Much like the apple, the grape is one of those fruits that has a significant amount of magic associated with it. First and foremost, the grape harvest — and the wine that it produces — has been associated with fertility deities like Egypt’s Hathor, the lusty Roman Bacchus and his Greek counterpart, Dionysus. By the time of Mabon, grape arbors are flourishing. Vines, leaves and fruit are all usable items — the leaves are often used in Mediterranean cooking, the vines for craft projects, and the grapes themselves are extremely versatile.
Grapevines are believed to have originated around Mesopotamia, and were cultivated as long as six thousand years before the Romans got around to introducing the plant to the British Isles. The National Grape Cooperative says that grapes were probably one of the earliest cultivated fruits. Although the Greeks gave winemaking a shot, their success was mediocre at best. Historians say that Greek wine was thick and syrupy and the flavor was not exactly good. It wasn’t until the Romans got into the act that winemaking became a truly refined art, thanks to specialized cultivation, and proper fermentation and storage.