"Twenty years ago my father asked me for the
title of an encylopedic handbook [of California
wine] . Suprised to hear that there was no such
book available, he has been encouraging me ever
since to produce one...Based on 30 years of
research, it took three years to write it."
...Charles L. Sullivan, A Companion to California Wine, An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present.
FIRE IN THE LAB!—The University of California,
Berkeley, was founded in Oakland in 1868 and moved
to Berkeley five years later. Its Agriculture
Department became very critical of many of the commercial
California wines, leading to a running battle
with the vintners' STATE VITICULTURAL COMMISSION.
The University won and in 1895 the legislature abolished the
Commission, giving its functions to the school.
Two years later the wine lab was destroyed by fire,
and Berkeley soon dropped its wine work.(There's more to the story.)
FIRE IN THE BELLY!—If nominations were taken for
California's greatest winemaker since the 1970s,
Jedediah Tecumseh Steele (his father was a historian)
would be in the first rank. He is specifically
a master with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
BONDED BUNGLING—There are over 5,000 bonded
U.S.A. wineries. Naturally, Bonded Winery #20
went into business before Bonded #200. WHOA! Not
necessarily. Here's the deal. Before Prohibition
the practice started of requiring wineries to
post bond to make sure they would pay the taxes
due the federal government for wine produced.
Each winery was assigned a number. Then, during
Prohibition (1920-1933) not only were wineries
destroyed, but the bonding records went down the
tubes, too. After Prohibition, wineries were
supposed to be able to claim their old numbers.
However, with no reliable records, a number of
the more recent wineries mysteriously acquired
VERY LOW numbers.
If I could own but one book about California wine,
this would be it.
Back to that U. Of Cal. laboratory fire in 1897, some 10 years later a skilled artist from the Midwest was invited to become head of the Art Department. He visited the campus and turned down the offer because he felt conditions were a bit robust for his wife and daughter. Our home is full of his art, since the artist was my grandfather and his daughter was my mother.