December 4, 1638:On this day in 1638 the famed French monk, Dom Pierre Pérignon, was baptized in the town of Sainte-Menehould in the Champagne region of north-eastern France. Pérignon became a Benedictine monk in the region and was later appointed as the cellarer of the Abbey Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers, a position which he eventually held for the better part of half a century. Dom Pérignon is famously associated with the development of French champagne. He represented the continuing influence of the Benedictine religious order on viticulture in Europe over 1100 years after St Benedict produced his ‘Rule of St Benedict’ and the Benedictines became the predominant religious order in Western and Central Europe. In those eleven centuries, the Benedictine order massively influenced the wine landscape of medieval and early modern Europe, particularly in France. Although the idea that Pérignon introduced sparkling wine to the Champagne region is a myth, he did come up with several innovations in the fermentation process and storage of sparkling wine which merit his reputation. For more information, see H. Johnson’s Vintage: The Story of Wine (London, 1989), pp. 210–214; R. Phillips’s A Short History of Wine (New York, 2000), p. 245; and Desmond Seward’s Monks and Wine (Second Edition, London, 2021), pp. 188–195.
December 4, 1887: The National Prohibition Party is formed on this day. This third political party was founded on the sole premise that they would fight against the distribution and use of alcoholic beverages.
December 4, 1917: Claude Terrail, the proprietor of the Paris restaurant La Tour d’Argent, was born. The famed restaurant sits in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France. It is situated at 15 Quai de la Tournelle. The restaurant asserts that it was established in 1582 and that Henri IV frequented it, but it provides no proof of either of these or any other historical assertions. The restaurant’s location, the Quai de la Tournelle, was previously an impassable slope that was frequently flooded and paved only in 1650. The Restaurant is believed to have the greatest wine cellar in France, with over 15,000 bottles. The restaurant encourages diners to arrive hours before their reservation just so they can offer the wine the attention it requires.
December 4, 1981: Santa Cruz AVA was established. One of California’s biggest AVAs, Santa Cruz Mountains includes the counties of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and San Mateo. It was established in 1981 and is defined by its mountainous terrain. The appellation’s key grapes include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
December 4, 1981: On this day, McDowell Valley AVA was established. The McDowell Valley AVA is a tall bench land that is 1,000 feet above sea level and was made an appellation in 1987. Only 540 acres make up this beautiful valley in the southeastern part of Mendocino County. It looks out over the Russian River to the west.
December 4, 1981: On this day, Sonoma Valley AVA was established and certified. The Sonoma Valley AVA covers only the southeast corner of Sonoma County, roughly encircling the Sonoma Creek watershed, which starts in the Mayacamas Mountains near Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and drains into San Pablo Bay. These mountains protect the appellation from cool breezes rising from the Pacific Ocean in the west and excessive rainfall from the east. The regions boost diverse fertile soils like many other AVAs in the region. Sonoma Valley AVA consists of unique terroir and is the oldest winemaking region in Sonoma County.
December 4, 2015: Pegatron Wine received its GI protection on this day. On the same day, Turpan Wine also gained its GI status and was recognized as one of the Chinese wines located in Xinjiang. Although Xinjiang is one of the nation’s major producers in terms of volume, the province’s rugged and hilly geography makes it highly expensive to move goods into and out of the region.
December 4 every year: On this day, the world celebrates Cabernet Franc Day, which Lori Budd created in Exploring the Wine Glass in 2015.
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