Our bottle history
The Terre Di San Vito’s wine bottles are an unusual and unique shape compared to wine bottles in this century. They have been designed around the shape of bottles that were made by the Romans, Spanish and Portuguese in order to ship their produce around the world. They are reflective of a historical bottle that has been developed over time.
The history of wine spans thousands of years and is closely intertwined with the history of agriculture and Western civilisation. The Roman Empire had an immense impact on the development of viticulture and wine was an integral part of the Roman diet. So much so that wine making became a precise business.
Early wines were originally stored in earthen jugs, clay flasks (known as amphorae) or wooden casks but they made long term storage and transport very difficult. The Romans initially used wooden barrels for transporting wine to their troops as the water would too easily develop dangerous bacteria. However, they found that the barrels of wine would take on the flavours of the wood they were encased in (this is where port and other fortified wines developed).
So while the Romans were aware that different woods each affected wines in their own way, and had observed that wine shipped long distances in barrels often arrived tasting better than when it departed, the adoption of oak was a lucky accident. But wine still possessed a short shelf life – less than a year – before oxidation turned it into vinegar.
In the 17th century we see the introduction of the glass bottle and the cork stopper. Advances in glass making allowed for the production of thicker, harder-to-break glass, and eventually a point was reached where it was safe to store and transport wine in a glass bottle.
The Romans were the first to use glass to bottle their wine as they had developed the art of glass blowing and found that glass bottles were perfect for the storage of wines. They could seal the wines completely and ensure that storing them didn’t affect the flavour of the wine. It was also easier to check just how much wine was left in the bottle without opening it!
The early wine bottles had broad bottoms and short necks and over time, the neck grew and the bottom slimmed – and by the 1820s we see shapes that resemble modern wine bottles.
In order to demonstrate our passion for tradition, sustainability and flavour, here at Terre Di San Vito, we have worked hard towards embracing this history of Roman viticulture from 17th and 18th century and replicating the designs of those very first bottles: broad-bottomed with short necks. An ancient road Via Salaria, went from Rome to the Brindisi in the South of Italy and this became a major route for transporting wine to and from Puglia. We now have local craftsmen who make these bottles and as a result, we have a zero carbon footprint for our wine production (in Puglia IGT) and use these bottles for all our wine.