January 1, 1376: On this day, Nicolas Rolin, chancellor to Philip the Good, was born. In 1443, Rolin built Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune. The vines owned by this hospital for the poor generated cash for the facility. The hospital received several plots and donations over the years, which allowed this estate to expand. The magnificent extravagant gothic buildings of the Hospices are still accessible to visitors that travel to Beaune today. An interesting museum is now housed there thanks to its superb preservation. Today, Beaune Hospital and the Hospices museum receive proceeds from the sale of the wine produced by the Hospices’ vineyards at an auction held on the third Sunday in November.
January 1, 1853: On this day, Gregory Blaxland died. Gregory Blaxland was a pioneering English farmer and explorer in Australia, well known for initiating and co-leading the first successful European settlement crossing of the Blue Mountains. Blaxland obtained Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s approval early in 1813 to attempt to traverse the Great Dividing Range, often known as the Blue Mountains, by following the mountain ridges rather than the rivers and valleys because they required more grazing land. He convinced William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth to join the expedition, which was successful (even though it didn’t cross the mountains) and allowed the settlers to access and farm the land west of the mountains. In 1816–1818, he planted the “claret” grape on some of his lands. In 1822, he carried a barrel of the port to England, where it won a silver medal, and this set the stage for Australia’s enormous international wine success. Wines from Blaxland earned gold medals in London five years later.
January 1, 1892: On this day, Changyu Wine Production Company was founded in Yantai. Zhang Bishi, a Chinese diplomat serving abroad, established CHANGYU as the first winery in China. He decided to establish Zhang Yu Wine Company, a pioneering winery, in Yantai. With the help of an Austrian viticulturist named August Wilhelm Baron von Babo, he brought over 500,000 grape plants from Europe and the United States, opening the door for modern wine production in China. After more than 120 years of expansion, the CHANGYU group now owns and manages eight châteaux and wineries across China and has international owners including ILLVA (Italy, Amaretto di Saronno) and IFC (International Finance Corporation, USA). Wine, brandy, sparkling wine, and healthy liquor are all part of its repertoire, which is well-liked in more than 20 nations. CHANGYU is China’s largest wine producer and holds a substantial market share.
January 1, 1949: On this day, the Shaanxi wine region was established in eastern China.
January 1, 1973: On this day, Wine Warehouse was founded. Wine Warehouse is a California-based company that distributes wine, beer, and spirits from 104 American wineries. Wine connoisseurs Bob and Jim Myerson founded the firm in 1973 as an importer, seeing an opportunity to deliver good wine to a new and fast-developing market. A single container of Burgundy was their first shipment from abroad. By 1978, the firm had established itself as a supplier of fine wine from across the world, as well as representing about half of Napa Valley’s bonded wineries. The company, which began with two brothers, has expanded to over 600 workers with sites in both southern and northern California.
January 1, 1986: Portugal formally joined the European Union. Port and Madeira undoubtedly continue to be the leading characters of the Portuguese scene, but it is the production of table wines of which the world takes note due to their undeniably high quality. Portugal’s enology began a new development and a new course as the country joined the European Union, helped also by economic investments. Since the 1990s, the nation has demonstrated that it has enormous potential for wine production.
January 1, 1995: On this day, Austria entered the European Union thus adopting the wine law of the European community. Wine is described as a “product obtained entirely from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, whether or not crushed, or of grape must” in EU law (Reg. (EU) 1308/2013).
January 1, 2001: On this day, Denis Horgan, founder of the Leeuwin Estate, was awarded the Centenary Medal for his contributions to the development of wine in Australia. The Leeuwin Estate is one of the premier wineries in the Margaret River wine region, setting the standard and identity for many of the wineries that followed its founding.
January 1, 2003: On this day, G3 Enterprises was founded. It is located in Modesto, CA. From grape to glass, G3 offers a fully integrated packaging solution. The organization employs a comprehensive, sophisticated analytical approach to support clients throughout the production process, utilizing the nation’s most seasoned collection of professionals. Its expert technical teams can assist identify issue areas and deliver solutions, whether it’s an application problem, a new product packaging, process enhancement, or problems before or during bottling production. At the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, G3 Enterprises showcases several innovative cost-effective solutions, services, and locations aimed at giving wineries and viticulturists additional alternatives and convenience to increase their operating efficiencies.
January 1, 2012: On this day, The Winemaker: George Fistonich and the Villa Maria Story was published. Kerry Tyack regales the life story of George Fistonich, founder of the Villa Maria Winery. Considered a leader for New Zealand wines, and one of the most decorated winemakers in his country, Fistonich started his wine project more than 50 years ago “at just 21 years of age, [when he] leased five acres of land from his father in Mangere, Auckland and started off with just an acre of vines” (Villa Maria website). The book tracks his rise in prominence and shows how he sculpted one of the most well-respected family-run vineyards in the world.
January 1, 2016: On this day, SOMM: Into The Bottle was released. The film features sommeliers Ian Cauble, Brian McClintic, Dlynn Proctor, and Dustin Wilson who all appeared in the first SOMM film.
January 1, 2013: On this day, Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), a renowned university and research facility for viticulture and horticulture, was established with its headquarters in Geisenheim, Rheingau. However, the Royal Institute for Fruit and Viticulture at Geisenheim, which was the institution that laid the foundation for it, was established in 1872. The Geisenheim Research Facility as well as the Geisenheim Division of the RheinMain Applied sciences are the results of the split of its teaching and research divisions in 1971. The announcement of their merging to form a “new kind of institution” came in December 2011.
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