Cresta Blanca. First California Wine Recognition
When we talk about the American wine, we think of California. California wine has a long and ongoing history, and at the end of the twentieth century, it became recognized as producing some of the finest wine in the world. While wine is made in all fifty US states, up to 90% of American wine is produced in the state of California. If it were an independent country California would be the fourth largest wine producer in the world. Although the winemaking boom in the US began relatively recently - in the seventies of the twentieth century - the wines produced here, according to international estimates, often take the first place. Everyone remembers the Paris tasting in 1976 because how highly it was promoted. However, before the winegrowing craze in 1960-70, not many people know that California wines were recognized by France at the end of the nineteenth century.
Winegrowing in California had begun in 1769. However, the 1850s can easily be called the revolutionary time of Californian winemaking. The gold rush of 1848-56 in the mountains of Serra-Nevada attracted many different people. Comparatively many of the gold diggers were Italian, French, and Croatian farmers. Not all of them became rich out of it as they hoped. Nevertheless, they had to survive somehow and all people listed above, but mostly - the Italians, settled on the almost free lands of Northern California and started what they knew best - agriculture. Since the viniculture in Europe existed for thousands of years would have been hard to imagine an Italian, a Croat, a Spaniard, not to mention a Frenchman, without a bottle of wine at dinner. No wonder that soon small vineyards started to pop up.
It is known that the Frenchman Jean-Louis Vignes and “because of his name “he seemed predestined to become the Noah of California”” (Pinney, 246) brought to the New World a vine of Vitis Vinifera around 1830s. Later, around 1860 Hungarian Count Agoston Haraszthy imported to California around 300 varieties of vines and had the largest not only in Sonoma but “the largest vineyard in the world.” (qt. in Pinney, 274). These were two of many other important men in the history of vine growing. However, the man who elevated the quality of California wine is slightly overlooked and not praised enough for his accomplishments. Little did Charles Wetmore know that completing the work assignment to create a report on the California Wine Industry, which at the time was in decline, will turn him into an ultimate promoter of California wine.
Charles Wetmore was born in Portland, Maine in1847. His parents brought him to San Francisco when he was nine years old. In 1868 Charles Wetmore from the California College (now UC Berkeley) as a valedictorian. Charles was involved in many different projects after his college years, but his wine journey began when he took a job in 1878 at the Alta California newspaper...