Apologies in advance for a lengthy response. From the 2009 edition of my book "Rogov's Guide to Israeli Wines":
The history of wine in the Land of Israel is as old as the history of the people who have inhabited that land over the centuries. As early as five thousand years ago people cultivated vines and made, stored and shipped wines. The first mention of wine in the Bible is in a reference to Noah, who is said to have planted the first vineyard and to have become intoxicated when he drank the wine (Genesis 9:20–21). Another well-known reference concerns the spies sent by Moses to explore the Land of Canaan. They returned after their mission with a cluster of grapes said to have been so large and heavy that it had to be borne on a carrying frame (Numbers 13:23). The vine is also mentioned as one of the blessings of the good land promised to the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8).
Much of the process of winemaking has remained consistent throughout this time. Already in the Bible, we find a list of the necessary steps to care for a vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill;
And he dug it; and cleared it of stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine,
And built a tower in the midst of it,
And also hewed out a vat therein;
And he looked that it should bring forth grapes.
He broke the ground, cleared it of stone and planted it with choice vines.
He built a watchtower inside it,
He even hewed a wine press inside it.
(Isaiah 5: 1–2)
Vintners in ancient times knew as we do today that locating vineyards at higher altitudes, where there are greater temperature changes between night and day, would cause the fruit to ripen more slowly, adding to the sweetness of the fruit and its ability to produce fine wines. Two ways of growing vines were known: in one the vines were allowed to grow along the ground; in the other they were trained upward on trellises (Ezekiel 17:6–8). It was widely accepted then as today that vines cultivated by the second method almost always produce superior grapes.
Remains of ancient wine presses may be found today in all parts of Israel, from the Galilee to Jerusalem and the Negev Desert. In nearly every part of Israel, archaeologists have discovered hundreds of jars for the storage and transportation of wine. Many of these amphorae list in detail where and by whom the wine was made, as well as the year of the vintage, indicating that even in antiquity the source of the grapes and the quality of the harvest were considered important.
It is known today that even during the Bronze Age, Egyptian Pharaohs enjoyed wines that were shipped from Canaan. The growing of grapes and the production of wine was a major agricultural endeavor during the periods of the First and Second Temples, and the kings of Judah and Israel were said to have owned large vineyards as well as vast stores of wine. The vineyards and stores of King David in particular were so numerous that he is said to have appointed two officials, one to be in charge of the vineyards, and the other to be charge of storage (I Chronicles 27:27).
In biblical times the harvest was a celebratory period as well as a period of courtship. The treading of the grapes was done most often on a gat or an arevah, the gat being a small, generally square, pressing floor that had been cut into bedrock, and the arevah a smaller treading surface that could be moved from vineyard to vineyard. From either of these the must (that is to say, the fresh and as yet unfermented grape juice) ran into a yekev, which was a vat for collecting the must as it flowed from the treading floor through a hole carved in the stone. When natural bedrock was unavailable, an earthen treading surface lined with mosaics was used. In several areas, caves or large cisterns carved from natural bedrock have been found, which would have served two purposes—first for storing the grapes until they were pressed, and then, because they were cool and dark, for storing the wine while it fermented and then aged in clay jugs.
Once fermentation had been completed, the wines were stored in pottery vessels which were sealed with wood, stone or clay stoppers. For purposes of shipping, the stoppers were wrapped in cloth and coated with clay. Since new clay vessels tend to absorb as much as 20 percent of the wines stored in them, it became common practice to store better wines in older jars. A major development, during the third century bce, was the discovery that stoppers made from cork were an effective way to seal amphorae.
As much as these wines were prized, it must be understood that they were very different from wines as we know them today. They were often so intense and coarse that they needed a fair amount of “adjustment” before they were considered drinkable. To improve the bouquet, the Romans were known to add spices and scents to their wines. To make the wine sweeter, they added a syrup made by heating grape juice in lead containers for a long period over a low flame. To improve flavors and hide faults it was customary to add honey, pepper, chalk, gypsum, lime, resin, herbs and even sea water.