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Grape, common name of an edible fruit in the buckthorn family and of the vines that produce the fruit.

The European Grape has been used as food since prehistoric times. Grape seeds have been found in the remains of lake dwellings of the Bronze Age in Switzerland and Italy and in Tombs of ancient Egypt. Botanists believe that the Caspian Sea region was the original home of the European Grape. Distribution of seeds by birds, wind and water carried the plant westwards to the Asian shores of the Mediterranean. Grape Culture, practiced in Palestine during biblical times, was introduced in the Mediterranean region by seagoing Phoenicians. The Ancient Greeks cultivated grapes and use of the fruit was later adopted by Rome and its colonies.

Turkey has the most suitable climate conditions for vine growing in the world and is the origin of the vine genes. The archaeological findings in Anatolia proved that this culture of vine growing dates back to 3500 BC.

Grape figures, found in different locations of Anatolia points out to the fact that growing grapes has been the part of the Culture for centuries.

In the periods of Hittites, that is 1800-1550 BC, grape growing and wine making was developed and during religious ceremonies there were votive offering to the Gods. Hittites had agricultural laws similar to todays in order to protect the vineyards.

A grape bunch shaped wine container, dating back from 1800-1600 BC, was found in Çorum Alacahöyük, another town in Central Anatolia. Historical coins with grape figures were used in Western Anatolia. Grapes and wine have always played an important social and commercial role in Western Anatolia.

The Romans and the Byzantines were much progressed in the viniculture. In Persia, the Armenians were busy with perfecting world’s first seedless grapes. Experts say that the grapes may have been grown exclusively for ruling Sultans of the day. “Sultanas” means in Turkish “for the Sultan”.

The first raisins were undoubtedly grapes that had dried naturally on the vine, but more than 3000 years ago people were picking grapes and laying them in the sun to dry. A process that has remained virtually unchanged.

Today, most raisins are still sun-dried, though some are dried in ovens.

Raisins have been a precious trade item in the ancient near East as well as in ancient Rome (where two jars of raisins could be exchanged for a slave).

Spanish missionaries brought them to Mexico and California in the 18th century. In the 20th century Australia became an important producer as well.

Scientific Classification: Grapes belong to the family Vitaceae.

The European Grape is classified as Vitis Vinifera, the northern fox grapes Vitis Labrusca, the summer grape as Vitis Aestivalis, the riverbank grape as Vitis Riparia and the muscadine grapes as Vitis Rotundifolia.

The dictionary meaning of Raisins is sun-dried grapes without seeds.

Sultanas is the common name for the raisins grown in Turkey, Greece and Iran. However, the quality of Sultanas may be modified by weather conditions, but it is largely dependent on the cultural production differs from year to year due to the weather conditions.

Wine grape production in the world is effected between 20-52 latitudes in Northern Hemisphere and 20-42 latitudes for Southern Hemisphere. Weather conditions do not allow the wine production areas any further towards north. Sultana Raisin Harvesting time is August and September in the Northern Hemisphere, March and April in Southern Hemisphere. The major producers are USA, Chile, South Africa, Australia, Turkey, Greece, Iran and Afghanistan. Wine yards are located only at certain locations of these countries.

In the Aegean Region of Turkey since the 18th century the major grape production is Sultanas which is a variety of seedless type. It has been a part of Sultan’s diet with its original taste and that is where this type inherited its name.

The average production of the world is between 665.000 and 800.000 metric tons. About 400.000 and 500.000 metric tones of this production is exported and 255.000 metric tones are consumed in the domestic markets.