History of biblical viticulture, from Genesis through the New Testament, and the role wine played in the "evolution of humanity from nomadism to a settled society.”
Butler, one of the first two Masters of Wine in America, and biblical scholar Heskett (Reading the Book of Isaiah, 2011, etc.) meld history with exegesis to trace the origins of wine as a drink initially reserved for royalty; a ceremonial ritual; a key ingredient in early Egyptian medicine; an economic resource contended in wars; a currency for soldiers; a symbol and metaphor for restoration and judgment, noted throughout the Bible in verses and parables that reference vines and vineyards; and perhaps most significantly, as a celebratory, substantial force that enables social and cultural connectivity. The authors also explore Persian, Greek and Roman influences on production methods and taste. Their attentive study of the Levant, the Fertile Crescent, surrounding areas, grape varieties, familiar figures and the international exchange forged through the wine trade amply contextualizes their own tour of wineries along the modern equivalent of the route taken by the apostle Paul during his third missionary journey (excluding a few locales). For the connoisseur, these later chapters provide a refreshing glimpse at contemporary winemakers, which are briefly introduced, along with the authors' assessments and favorites.
Despite the seemingly esoteric topic, the authors skillfully enliven daily life in the distant past, whether detailing amphoras or wine gods—a worthy complement to literature on agriculture in antiquity.