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HIS 177 W — The History of Wine

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jun 26—Aug 4
Drop Deadline: Jul 4
Unit: 1
Tuition: $325
Instructor(s): Patrick Hunt
Limit: 40
Jun 26—Aug 4
6 weeks
Drop By
Jul 4
1 Unit
Patrick Hunt

Viticulture has traditionally been bound up with the development of Western culture. Archaeological evidence shows that wine became a social force in the Celtic world when chiefs gained greater status by offering imported wine to their warriors. We also know that Plato’s Symposium connected wine to philosophizing, and the cultural work of bards, poets, dancers, and musicians was often accompanied by wine rituals. Archaeology now also confirms the locus of wine origins around the Caucasus and Armenia, as hinted in The Epic of Gilgamesh and the biblical story of Noah.

In this course, we will take a deep historical look at the development of winemaking and its relationship to Western civilization. According to archaeological findings, viticulture began in the Neolithic period more than six millennia ago. Carbonized grape seeds have been found in Neolithic sites, and wine chemical residues remain in some of the oldest pottery known. Ancient literature confirms the gradual spread of viticulture from the Near East to Egypt, Crete, and the broader Mediterranean world, including France and other regions of Europe. From the Greeks and Romans it continued down through the Medieval and Renaissance periods and into modern times. This course will draw on science, history, literature, and art to explore and examine the locales and differences of major global wine varietals.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 40 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

This course includes an optional class visit to Ridge Winery for local Bay Area students.

Patrick Hunt, Former Director, Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project

Patrick Hunt has taught at Stanford since 1993. He is the author of twenty books, including Caravaggio (Life & Times), Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History, When Empires Clash, and Hannibal. He is an associate at UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and a research associate in archeoethnobotany at the Institute for EthnoMedicine. Hunt’s archaeology research has been sponsored by the National Geographic Society. He received a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Patrick Hunt , Wine Journeys: Myth and History (ISBN 978-1626610644)