December 26, 1690: Domnita Anna Porphyrogenita (fondly known as Anica), the daughter of Prince Alexandru Băleanu of Moldavia and Princess Ruxandra Rareshid of Wallachia, became the first woman to be permitted to drink wine in Romania.
December 26, 1862: Charles Hubert de Castella, a Swiss immigrant, established one of the first vineyards in Australia’s Yarra Valley. The winery, St Huberts, is still operating today, having set the standard of quality for Yarra Valley wine. It has the name of the hunter’s patron saint.
December 26, 1999: In this month, Cyclone Lothar hit Western Europe damaging numerous winegrowing regions. With the devastation in its path, Storm Lothar struck the continent from the Atlantic and within a few hours was traveling at more than 120 mph across France, Switzerland, and southwest Germany. Just one day after Storm Lothar left its imprint, Storm Martin arrived not too far behind. Martin traveled from France southward through Spain, Corsica, and northern Italy at top speeds of up to 120 mph. Especially in forests in France, Germany, and Switzerland, 140 people perished during the two storms and the accompanying cleanup. During Lothar and Martin’s rampage, 200 million cubic meters of woodland were felled like twigs. Over 15 billion euros in economic losses were attributable to Lothar, of which 8.6 billion euros, or more than half, were covered by insurance. Martin’s losses totaled 6 billion euros, of which insurance firms paid out 3.4 billion. The wine industry was worst affected, with wineries counting huge losses.
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