THE SPANISH PERIOD—1769 to 1822
Franciscan Father Junipero Serra enters California in 1769 at San Diego. The
friars make the state's first wine at Mission San Juan Capistrano about 10 years
later. They had brought in the Mission grape, the same variety that Cortez's father
sent him from Spain to make the first wine in the New World at Mexico City about
Wine A—1994 Mission by the Story Winery, Amador County. I wrote
the text for the label on an earlier vintage of this wine. $18.
THE MEXICAN PERIOD—1822 to 1848
gains its independence from Spain and takes over the 21 Spanish missions. General
Mariano Vallejo takes over the vineyard at the Sonoma mission and becomes the
first commercial vintner in northern California. Later, he gives George Yount
some vines to take east and make Napa Valley's first wine.
Wine B - 1989 M.G. Vallejo Cabernet Sauvignon, California,
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, one of California's most colorful
leaders of 1830-40's, founded the town of Sonoma in 1834. He was amoung the West's
earliest commercial vintners and took great pride in sharing his wines with the
statesmen and friends he so often entertained. He is pictured here in front of
his Sonoma home where gracious hospitality was legend.
Vallejo Haraszthy, great-great grandson of M.G. Vallejo shown
on the grounds of the historic family estate.
STATEHOOD AND THE GOLD RUSH—1848
California becomes a territory of the U.S.A. in 1848. The same year John Agustus
Sutter in the Sierra Foothills writes General Vallejo that "I have made the discovery
of a gold mine which, as far as we have investigated, is extraordinarily rich."
Hordes of miners arrived in 1849, and wanted wine. The new Zinfandel was planted,
along with the Mission, and was very popular in Amador and El Dorado counties.
Wine C—1995 Amador County Zinfandel by Sobon Estate; grapes are
from Fiddletown, named after those who entertained the miners. $15.
THE "Father of California Viticulture" ARRIVES
Hungarian-born "Count" Agoston Haraszthy plants the world's largest vineyard
at his Buena Vista winery, established in 1857. California has been a state for
seven years. He imports 100,000 vines of 300 varieties. His wines replace those
of General Vallejo as California's best.
Wine D—1994 Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon from the Carneros district,
NAPA VALLEY'S FIRST COMMERCIAL VINTNER
German journalist Charles Krug learns winegrowing from Count Haraszthy & marries
a relative of General Vallejo. His bride's dowry includes land near St. Helena,
where he plants vines and in 1861 becomes the Napa Valley's first commercial vintner.
Wine E—1995 Charles Krug Merlot, Napa Vly., $15
THE SEVENTY-YEAR SLUMP—1880 to 1950
1880—The insect phylloxera devastates California vineyards. Charles Krug
pioneers the solution, grafting the vines onto resistant rootstock from phylloxera's
place of origin, New England.
1906—The great San Francisco earthquake. Buena Vista is destroyed and totally
forgotten for decades.
1920—National Prohibition forces most wineries to close, though some like
Beaulieu do well making sacramental wines, until the ban ends 13 years later.
1941—World War II reduces production and a wine shortage develops.
1970 to 1998—LEADING CONTEMPORARY WINEMAKERS
Zelma Long of Simi is among the top female winemakers in the world.
She created the famous Simi Reserve Chardonnay in 1980. She is now president of
Wine F—1994 Simi Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma County, $30.
Steele is the leading winegrowing consultant in California today. While assisting
others, he also makes his own outstanding wines, including Chardonnay and Pinot
Wine G - 1995 Steele Chardonnay, Mendocino County, Dennison Vineyard,
David Bruce makes exquisite Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. When an intern
at Stanford Medical School, he joined in the search for a boy missing in the Santa
Cruz Mtns. Successful, he brought the boy to the home of a vineyardist, who served
Dr. Bruce his first wine. Today, he has one of the state's most respected vineyards(on
a ridge in those mountains).
Wine H - 1995 David Bruce Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, Estate
Robert Mondavi is my nominee for the most important California vintner
of the 20th century. His RESERVE wines are absolutely tops...Cabernet Sauvignon,
Merlot, and Chardonnay. He greatly expanded the sales of Sauvignon Blanc by creating
Fume Blanc, a new name for it. He pioneered the sophisticated use of French oak
in California winemaking.
Wine I - Robert Mondavi RESERVE Chardonnay, Napa Valley, $31.
THE FOUR LADIES OF GUENOC
Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, 19 year old daughter of the Dean of the
Jersey Isle, marries the wealthy, handsome Edward Langtry in 1872, who sailed
in on his yacht. She became the stunning actress, Lillie Langtry, was painted
by Whistler, and later became a winemaker on the estate she bought in Guenoc Vly.,
north of the Napa Valley.
Emmeline A.M.K. Afong, a Hawaiian princess, in 1885 marries the dashing
American sailor-lawyer, John Magoon. The University of Hawaii wants their land,
which the Magoon trade for 23,000 Cal. acres including Lillie's.
Genevive Magoon asks sons Orville and Easton to plant a vineyard; great
Karen Melander-Magoon, current Manager of Public Relations and Marketing,
about as many medals with her voice as the winery has with her wines. She's listed
in the European "Who's Who in Opera." She's co-wine grower with Orville.
Wine J—'94 Guenoc Vintage Port, California, $25