BODEGA: Phoenician winery in Cadiz

AN almost 3,000-year-old secret winery buried in an Andalucian mountain is set to be transformed into a tourist centre.

What was once thought to be an ordinary hill covered in shrubs turned out to be hiding the oldest complete winery known in Western civilisation.

Nestled in the Sierra de San Cristobal, the bodega – measuring 2,000 square metres – is archaeological evidence of Phoenician winemaking in Andalucia.

Having found two wine presses, ovens to produce sweet wine and storage spaces with amphorae to preserve the drink, archaeologists believe the facilities produced wine in the 3rd century BC.

But since the discovery of the 2,300-year-old site in 1991, fears have grown over the preservation of the historical remains, with motocross fanatics using the area as a practice circuit.

Now, Ruiz Mata, the archaeologist who led the excavations, is calling on officials to preserve the site as a cultural information centre on historical wine-production techniques from the famous Sherry region, known today as Marco de Jerez.

He hopes the site will become a new destination in a network of archaeological sites open to the public.

“This is not just the history of my town, this is world history,” he said.

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