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Leopard Tracks Introduction

Dionysos and Leopard

Dionysos on his preferred mode of transport.

For the ancient Greeks, Dionysos, the god of wine, had an exotic quality. He, like the grapevine itself, voyaged great distances to arrive in Greece, traveling from Eastern Lands, from elsewhere.

Accentuating this aura, he was often depicted with panthers, particularly leopards - sometimes by his side or as a skin, but often as his transport, as seen in the 4th century B.C. Pella mosaic (banner image), and 2nd century B.C. Delos mosaic, above. More improbably, Dionysos is also seen driving a chariot pulled by a team of leopards. (“Herding cats” what it is, it is hard to imagine him covering much ground.)

Yet there is something apt about wild felines being tamed by Dionysos - after all, the wild tendrils of the grapevine, originally snaking up trees to offer its berries to birds, have been tamed in the cultivation of winemaking, brought down to earth for human enjoyment. (Cultivation and culture share an etymological root with cult, the idea of worship. Culture and agriculture are sources from which civilization springs.)

Leopard Tracks is a series of reports while on the trail of Dionysos - a record of ideas, pursuits, projects, that occur along the path of winegrowing. As wine stimulates all senses, rather than solely read about it, a proposal of wines will accompany every journal. To create a richer conversation, the wines will not only be Perliss Estate's, but will bring in other voices. I hope you will join me, seeing where the path leads, & enjoy the ride.

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