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Columella

The Roman writer Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (+70) was in Gades (Cádiz) in today Spain probably born around the turn of the century. About the exact dates and also about his life but relatively little is known. He served as an officer of the Roman army in Syria. Columella is considered one of the most important Roman authors about the viniculture, He was a contemporary of the writers also writing about viticulture Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), whether they knew each other and influenced each other, is not known. His most famous work " De re rustica "(Of the rural affairs) he wrote at an older age 60 to 65 AD and titled it just as the work of the Carthaginian Mago (around 500 BC), which he also cites extensively. He also quotes the one he admires Virgil (70-19 BC) with his work "Georgica". Columella's work is published until the 16th century. The author Petrus de Crescentiis (1230 / 1233-1320 / 1321) devoted himself to the same topic in the late Middle Ages and took the book structure of Columella as a model.

Columella - Portrait and Edition De re rustica 1564

The completely preserved work "De re rustica" consists of 12 books, which probably appeared individually. The third, fourth and twelfth books are viniculture and wine making. He obviously starts from his own observations and experiences. He describes down to the last detail methods that attest to a professional viticulture at the time. Those are for example the density from vines (two steps distance), finishing. training system (connect to a man-high post made of chestnut wood with willow branches), the vegetative propagation by Absenker. pruning, Grape variety depending on the soil type. earnings (20 amphorae by Jugerum = about 20 to 30 hl / ha), vintage. winemaking and vinegar production,

Columella leads a total of 58 known to him varieties on. As particularly fertile and resistant he describes the also mentioned by Pliny Biturica (Columella, however, calls her Balisca). Further mentions one Vitis albuelis who is often the ancestor of Elblings is suspected as well as one Vitis apiana of which the variety Fiano and possibly also Muscat Blanc to descend. The cost and work effort is also a subject in detail. He describes, for example, that on a January day a man could cut and sharpen 100 piles. In order to get along with as few workers as possible, he proposes the planting of grape varieties that ripen differently. It is precisely defined what qualities the slaves must have and explicitly disclaims of those who have performed finer activities as befitting a city. Because they are used to idleness, circus, dice, food stalls and brothels.

Columella - German edition De re rustica and statue in Cádiz

Ideal is a slave who is used to the hard agricultural work of a child. According to their skill, he distinguishes the slaves in ploughmen (aratores), winegrowers (vinitores) and domestic servants (medianisti). With the following remarks he criticizes the often practiced practice of the time aromatizing "We think the best wine is the one that can be aged without preservatives. It must not be mixed with anything that could mask its natural taste. Because the most excellent wine is the one that offers pleasure through its natural qualities. " An older plant called" De arboribus "(Over the trees), in which among other things the grapevine is described, unfortunately, only partially preserved. Parts of his works are also in the famous agricultural collection Geoponika from the 10th century included. See also below Ancient wines,

Columella: By Jean de Tournes, public domain, link
De re rustica 1564: By Columella, Public Domain, Link
De re rustica 1491: By Heinrich Österreicher, public domain, link
Statue: Public Domain, Link

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