Walvis Bay Some Points of Interest
There are plenty of activities to get involved in and around Walvis Bay, kayaking on the lagoon,
wind surfing and kiteboarding, also fishing and boat trips where you will likely encounter dolphins, seals and
maybe whales as well as the Mola Mola sunfish. Then head to The Raft for lunch, sundowners or dinner, or why not
try all three!
Some interesting wine history.
The history of wine is inextricably interwoven with the history of man.
It has been said that civilization grew out of agriculture: when the first nomads planted seeds and waited for the
crop to grow, their wandering ceased.
It might be as true to say that it was with wine that civilization began, for the vine takes longer to mature than
any other crop, and does not produce grapes for the vendange until its fourth year after four years in one place, a
nomad tribe would be well settled and already practiced in domestic arts.
We do not know when men first had wine, but it was accepted as a gift from the gods: the Egyptians attributed it to
Osiris, the Greeks to Dionysos; the Armenians maintained that Noah planted the first vineyard near Erivan. Since
grape seeds have been found in prehistoric caves, it is conceivable that wine is older than history although it is
unlikely that the cavemen knew how to ferment their grapes.
That discovery, when it came, was probably accidental. Mesopotamia and the Caucasian slopes were no doubt early
sources of wine: the Libation Scene in the "Standard" panel from Ur (now in the British Museum) dates from the
first half of the third millennium before Christ.
In Egypt vineyards were being planted for firnerary wines soon after 3000 B.c.; and legendary tales of
wine-drinking in China date from much the same period. In any case, it is believed that Greece, the first European
country to make wine, received the art from the East, and also, no doubt, from Egypt.
The earliest records of wine in Egypt are the sealing inscriptions on the stoppers of amphorae found in pre-
In early days, the king had his own vineyard, from which the funeral wines came, and (according to H. F. Lutz) a
domestic vine plot to provide his table wine. Vineyards belonging to important persons were given names: Rameses
III (1198-1166 B.C.) developed the famous Ka-n-komet, as well as new plantations in oases. Another, more
long-winded name was King Zoser’s "Praised be Horus, who is in the front of Heaven" the wine from there was
sometimes more succinctly described as "Beverage of Horus." Wine labels, on the other hand, could be models of
clarity: "In the year xxx Good wine of the large irrigated terrain of the Temple of Rameses II in Per-Amon.
The chief of the wine-dressers, Tutmes." Would that all labels were as honest, explicit, and simply expressed. In
the unchanging climate of Africa, vintage years were not very important. But soil matters vitally to the vine,
wherever it grows, so that the Egyptians were concerned about the sites of their vineyards. The vines grew best
near the Delta, where they were irrigated by the annual flooding of the Nile, but since marsh is not the land for
them, the walled vineyards were planted on artificially raised plots.
The reliefs and wall-paintings in the tombs, in which so clear a picture of Egyptian life is preserved, show
workers harvesting the vine with curved knives like the hand sickles still occasionally in use, the grapes being
picked by women and dropped into wicker baskets to be carried on the men’s backs, or balanced on shoulder yokes to
The Egyptians used fermenting vats of acacia wood, in which they trod the grapes in a compulsive rhythm, sung and
clapped out by hand, this is a sight familiar to everyone who has watched the vintage on the Douro or in Spain. Nor
does the parallel with modern times end there: a certain Bilgai, "Overseer of the Fortress of the sea," shamelessly
recorded, on a stele, that he had assessed the people 23,568 measures of wine in excess of his due as tax
collector. Moreover, the Code of Hammurabi (Babylon, c. 2000 B.C.) stipulated the conditions under which wine could
be bought; and a seller who gave short measure was thrown into the water, then, as now, there was fraud in the
We know little about the wine of the common people because they lacked the means to have themselves buried in great
tombs or to have their thoughts and histories carved out in stone, probably they drank the wines made from palms
and dates, and the barley beer. The wine of the royal and the rich was mainly white. The most celebrated kinds were
as follows. Mareotic: grown near what was to be the city of Alexandria, a white wine, sweet and light,
long-lasting, and with a fragrant bouquet. Centuries later, it was known in Rome: Horace wrote that this was the
wine which fired Cleopatra. Taeniotic: Athenaeus (c. A.D. 200) declared that this was even better than the
Mareotic, an unctuous, greenish-white wine, sweet and aromatic, and of a slightly astringent character. (He went on
to say that the wine loving Egyptians often ate boiled cabbage before a feast, and took cabbage water to cure a
hangover.) Sebennyticum: described by Pliny as being the product of three different grapes, the Thasian, the soot
grape, and the pitch pine.
Egyptian wines were sealed up in amphorae of the Greek pattern, and since they were not sufficient for the people
of the country, many more came in from Greece, from Phoenicia, and from Syria. It has been reckoned that wine is
mentioned 155 times in the Old Testament and 10 times in the New. In the book of Numbers it says that, at the time
of the Exodus, the Hebrews regretted leaving behind the wines of Egypt: but they need not have feared, for the land
of the Philistines and the Plain of Sharon were green with the vine, and Palestine came to be rich in vineyards.
Indeed, vines flourished prolifically in the eastern Mediterranean countries and around the Caspian and the Black
seas. In Ezekiel, Chapter 27, we read about Damascus, that great center of the wine trade: "thy merchant . . . in
the wine of Helbon." The wine of Byblos was celebrated too. The Syrians and the Phoenicians sent their wine by the
old caravan routes to Arabia and Egypt, to India, and as far as China; and their famous Chalybon went to the
Persian kings. Vines were planted in Arabia too, and large quantities of wine, mostly red, were made there.
There are also many references to wine in the Babylonian Talmud, in their inscriptions, and in their art. The
southern parts of the country were not very suitable to the vine, and here, as in the Nile Delta, plots had to be
raised by human labor. But in the north, soil and climate were favorable, and at one time Babylonian wines were
much esteemed, and traveled as far as Arabia, Wine was blessed and offered to Abraham by King Melchizedek (Genesis,
Chapter 14): libations were made with daily burnt offerings at the Feast of the Tabernacles; and so a link is made
with King Nebuchadnezzar, dedicating wines with strange names to the pagan god Marduk, and with Assurbanipal in
Nineveh, making libations freely, pouring wine on cornerstones, on sacred objects, on lions killed in the hunt, or
on beheaded enemies. In the voodoo ceremonies of Haiti, libations are still offered to the gods; nor is there
anything surprising about this custom, since primitive gods are largely anthropomorphic, and what more natural than
to offer wine to an honored guest? The ancient Greeks also poured libations to their gods, and from Homeric times
and earlier they were a wine drinking people. Vines decorated the shield of Achilles, the gold cup of Nestor is
still famous, and Odysseus and his men washed down "abundant flesh with sweet wine."
The Greeks liked their wines old and watered down. These sweet wines, trodden in stone vats and matured in
earthenware crocks, may have borne some resemblance to Malmsey. Hesiod, the Boeotian farmer-poet, who was writing
his Works and Days in about 700 B.c., pruned and planted his vines in the ways that were to be followed by
countless generations. The Pramnian and pure Maronean first described in Homer are still discussed and regretted:
some writers are of the opinion that the well matured vintages of ancient Greece were the quintessence of
fine wine. Nobody alive is in a position to dispute this view. Yet the pitched vessels in which much of the Greek
wine was stored, the mixture, with some of it, of sea water, and the addition of perfumes must have combined to
produce flavors not much to our taste. Some of the grapes which yielded the Greek wines were almost certainly
transplanted to the Greek colonies in Sicily and southern Italy, and the wine would surely have been made there in
the same way.
Up on the mainland, the Etruscans (migrants, it has been said, from Asia Minor) were already a wine drinking
people, loving luxury and splendid banquets in which their women took a prominent part. The Etruscans’ wine god was
called Fufluns. In the same province of Tuscany some of the best Italian wines are made today.
Viniculture, therefore, would have been a natural heritage of the Romans. Like the Greeks, they made red, white,
and amber wines; and they too could drink them "pitched and pickled," sometimes mixed with sea water or exposed in
a smoky room (fumarium). In old age some of them would be, as Tovey said, "reduced to a syrup and rendered so muddy
and thick they had to be strained through cloths and dissolved in hot water." But the jizmarium was intended to
mellow the wine by heat rather than by smoke, the principle was not unlike that of maturing Madeira near ovens, and
the jars were protected by a thick coat of plaster or pitch. The Romans themselves complained of "smoky wines" when
they returned from Marseille, settled about 600 B.c. by Greeks from Phocaea, and surely the first place in Gaul to
have made real wine.
The wines most prized in Rome were luscious, less in need of acrid preservatives, they probably resembled the
Lagrima of today.
Wine traveled in earthenware arnphorae, and fragments of these jars have been found in riverbeds and along roads.
Wrecked ships loaded with amphorae have been retrieved from the Mediterranean, the jars, still corked, contain a
liquid that, in the years before Christ, was new wine. Where the Romans went, conquering and colonizing, the
culture of the vine went with them.
Using the waters of the Rhone to make their way northward in what is now France, they are said to have planted the
Picatum, a hardy grape with a slight taste of pitch. On an old wine cup found in the region, the legend reads,
"Give us Aminean, not Picatum." At the end of the first century, Martial tells that this wine was being exported to
Rome. When in A.D. 97 the Emperor Domitian issued an edict calling for the uprooting of many vines throughout the
Empire, no doubt protecting Italian wines was one of his motives (along with encouraging agriculture and
controlling surplus wine production). But it is not to be supposed that all of the vines were destroyed the French
character being what it is, orders are not much regarded; but however half-heartedly the growers carried out the
order, their descendants must have been relieved when, in 280, the Emperor Probus repealed it. When the vines were
openly planted again, they spread beyond the old vineyard regions of Marseille, the Rhone Valley, and the Iberian