The domestication of purple grapes originated in what is now southern Turkey. Yeast, one of the earliest domesticated microorganisms, occurs naturally on the skins of grapes, leading to the innovation of alcoholic drinks such as wine.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics record the cultivation of purple grapes, and history attests to the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans growing purple grapes for both eating and wine production. Later, the growing of grapes spread to Europe, North Africa, and eventually North America.

Native purple grapes belonging to the vitis genus proliferated in the wild across North America, and were a part of the diet of many North American first peoples, but were considered by European colonists to be unsuitable for wine.

The first Old World vitis vinifera purple grapes were cultivated in California where Spain had established a series of monasteries along the coasts to supply their navies with oranges to prevent scurvy and convert natives.

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