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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 age. However, relatively little is known about the exact dates and also about his life. He served as an officer in the Roman army in Syria. Columella is considered one of the most important Roman authors about the viniculture, He was a contemporary of the author who also wrote about viticulture Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) whether they knew each other and influenced each other is not known. His most famous work " De re rustica “(From rural affairs) he wrote at an older age from AD 60 to 65 and titled it exactly like the work of the Carthaginians Mago (around 500 BC), which he also quotes extensively. He also quotes the one he revered 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 itself 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 have probably been published individually. The third, fourth and twelfth books are viniculture and dedicated to winemaking. He obviously starts from his own observations and experiences. He describes methods down to the last detail that testify to professional viticulture in those days. These are, for example density of vines (two steps away), finishing. training system (connect to a man-high chestnut wood post with willow branches), the vegetative propagation by Absenker. pruning, Vine variety selection depending on the soil type. earnings (20 amphorae by Jugerum = about 20 to 30 hl / ha), vintage. winemaking and vinegar production,

Columella has a total of 58 known to him varieties on. He describes the one also mentioned by Pliny as particularly fruitful and resistant Biturica (Columella calls it Balisca, however). Also mentions one Vitis albuelis, often as an ancestor of the Elblings is suspected as well as a Vitis apiana, of which the variety Fiano and possibly also Muscat Blanc should descend. The cost and effort is also a well-considered topic. For example, he describes that a man could cut and tip 100 stakes on a January day. In order to get by with as few workers as possible, he suggests planting grape varieties that mature differently. It defines exactly what properties the slaves must have and expressly advises against those who have carried out finer tasks that fit a city. Because they are used to doing nothing, circus, playing dice, food stall and brothels.

Columella - German edition De re rustica and statue in Cadiz

Ideal is a slave who is used to hard agricultural work from childhood. According to their skill, he differentiates the slaves into plowmen (aratores), winemakers (vinitores) and servants (medianisti). With the following remarks he criticizes the practice of the aromatizing : “We believe that the best wine is the one that can be aged without preservatives. Nothing may be added to it that could disguise its natural taste. Because the most excellent wine is the one that gives pleasure through its natural qualities. ” An older work called“ De arboribus ”(About the Trees), in which, among other things, the grapevine is unfortunately only partially preserved. Some of his works are also in the famous agricultural collection Geoponika from the 10th century included. See also under 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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