The earliest evidence of grapevine cultivation and wine-making dates to the Neolithic period, more than 7,000 years ago (read Box front). Viniculture came to Malta at the latest with the Phoenicians between 1,200-900BC (for Phoenicia read Ace♦ and 2♥). In the 5th century BC, Greek historian Thucydides wrote “people of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learnt to cultivate the olive and the vine”, referring to a time between 3,000-2,000BC. Throughout the millennia and to this day there are a number of Maltese vintners with their family-run, small vineyards who practice this tradition.
Here bottles of homemade wine are labelled with the family crests of the four most common Maltese surnames: (1) Borg, (2) Camilleri, (3) Vella and (4) Farrugia. The Maltese hosts and their Diaspora visitors (→6♠) are on shore sampling their reds (photographed atop a fluffy beach towel) while watching the start of the race taking place in the preceding card.