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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for August 24, 2000


How Cavemen Saved The Day

25,000 B.C.
Modern man is running around Portugal, laughing and scratching. Little does he realize, he will save a great Port vineyard.

The Portuguese Electricity Authority decides to build a dam which would partly submerge Ramos-Pinto's prized Ervamoira Port-wine vineyard. After several years of appeals, winemaker Joao de Almeida abandons all hope as work on the dam progresses.

Sam Sabertooth

Sam Sabertooth,
Stone-Age Sommelier

1995—Cavemen To The Rescue!
Not only are vines about to be submerged, but some curious scratchings on stones will be covered, too. Some archeologists took a look. Wait! A little work revealed one of the finest collections of stone-age art in Europe, dating back to at least 25,000 B.C. The academic outcry against flooding hundreds of prehistoric pictures was deafening. The government relented and the vineyard was saved, that produced nearly half of the grapes for our...

Wine of the Day

Ramos-Pinto Vintage Port 1997, $49
The Worried Winemaker—Joao de Almeida is a direct descendant of the two brothers that founded the firm.
Importer—Maisons Marques & Domaines, Michelle Armour or Tina Caputo, (510)286-2000, FAX (510)286-2010
Stature—Portuguese expert Guillermo Campos sums it up this way. "While you may not be familiar with the Ramos name, connoisseurs consider Ramos Port a real gem, an authentic elite product that has not received the recognition it deserves." We hope this review helps overcome that problem.


About those cavemen that saved the vineyard. As the drawings were going on the rocks, a more sophisticated type of cooking was appearing in Europe. Pebbles were heated in an open fire, put in a small pit, the food was wrapped in moist leaves, and baked in the pit. You might call it a Stone Age oven. Looks like every age had its connoisseurs!

James Trager, Food Chronology
Carlo Petrini, Slow Food Guide To Wines

  • For more, see the May 25, 1999 WineDay "Ramos Up Close".

    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


    This page created August 2000