August 14, 1889: On this day in 1889 the Griffe Law was passed by the French government. Named after Charles Griffe, a senator representing the Hérault region of southern France who had proposed the law, it was introduced in response to the phylloxera epidemic which had struck French vineyards and then those of every other region of Europe since the 1860s, destroying the continent’s vineyards. As wine production levels spiraled downwards in France in the 1870s and 1880s people had begun turning to substances such as raisins and currants as alternative bases for making wine. The Griffe Law was an attempt to arrest this compromising of French wine and the predicted destruction of France’s reputation as the center of world viticulture by defining wine as strictly the result of the fermentation of fresh grapes. The Griffe Law went on to lay down clear rules for how wine was to be produced and what could be added to it. For more, see Wine Law, pages 398-399, by Tomás Prieto Álvarez, et al.
August 14, 1905: On this day, France enacted its first appellation legislation, which marked the beginning of dividing wine regions according to their respective geographies and enshrining grape growing and wine-producing traditions into law to combat the production of counterfeit wine. The ‘appellation’ system is the foundation of France’s legal framework for wine production. It’s a grading system for vineyards and wine regions based on the concept of “terroir,” the idea that land and environmental factors are critical factors in the end product of wine.
August 14, 1918: Beginning on this day and continuing for about six months, a mass selling of wine was spearheaded by the California Wine Alliance to offload the stock of wine that would be made illegal once Prohibition began. The big wineries of the period focused on selling their inventory via the California Wine Alliance. They were required to liquidate stockpiles equaling around 50 million gallons of wine.
August 14, 1928: On this day, Michel Dovaz was born in Geneva, Switzerland. He spent his early career in journalism, and later became an Academie du Vin course instructor, wine writer and judge. He is notable for having served as one of the judges in the 1976 Paris Wine Tasting. For more on the 1976 Paris Wine Tasting, see our other posts.
August 14, 1941: On this day, Leslie Rudd was born. Leslie Rudd was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and vintner from the United States. He founded The Rudd Group, a collection of high-end restaurants and wineries, including PRESS Restaurant in Napa Valley. At PRESS, he showed approximately 10,000 rare and vintage wines from Napa Valley vineyards. The restaurant is said to have the world’s largest collection of Napa Valley wines.
August 14, 1970: On this day, Lago di Caldaro earned the first DOC certification in the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige. The wines produced in the region are based on Schiava – a local grape variety that yields light red wines.
August 14, 1980: On this day, Moet-Hennessy purchased Schieffelin & Co., its New York-based distributor in the United States. California’s Simi Winery was also part of the agreement.
August 14, 2015: On this day, Pacific Bottling Services was established. Pacific Bottling Services is a locally owned and managed company based in the Willamette Valley that provides quality onsite bottling services to all of Oregon’s top winemakers.
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