January 12, 1831: On this day, Philip Speakman Webb was born. British architect and designer Philip Speakman Webb is frequently referred to as the “Father of Arts & Crafts Architecture.” He exhibited a dedication to “the art of common building” by using vernacular architecture.” In 1860, he is credited with creating one of the iconic Victorian wine glasses. Following the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian era (1837–1901) in England was a time of fascinating inventions, exploration, and discoveries. The size and quantity of wine glasses at a meal started to expand at home (if you were wealthy). Plated meals were carried to the table and sat in front of the guests in a sequence of successive courses. Larger glasses were required because they were left on the table and didn’t need to be filled after each sip.
January 12, 1893: On this day in 1893 Hermann Goering was born in Bavaria in southern Germany. Many years later he became a major figure within the Nazi Party. After the Nazis seized power in the country in 1933 Goering amassed a wide range of powers. In 1934 he established the infamous Gestapo and the following year he founded the new German air-force, the Luftwaffe. Goering’s addiction to opiates became common knowledge in the years that followed, but what is less well-known is that he also amassed a huge wine collection. This began when he had wineries and cellars across France plundered following the conquest of the country in 1940. By 1945 when the Russians surrounded Berlin Goering had a cellar which contained over 3,000 bottles of some of the world’s most prized wines. When the city fell, large portions of these were carried off and drank by Russians celebrating the end of the war. However, some survived. To this day there are 129 bottles from Goering’s collection housed at the Cricova Cellar in Moldova, worth approximately $15,000 each. For more information, see Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel’s Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (London, 2011). In addition, see this article on Grape Collective and this article from WW2 History Book.
January 12, 1983: On this day, Rocky Knob AVA was established. Located in Virginia, the viticulture area mainly produces Seyval Blanc.
January 12, 2010: On this day, The California Sustainable Winegrowing Program was launched. It is managed by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), a pioneering organization within the California wine sector to promote sustainable wine growing techniques.
January 12, 2011: National Geographic reported on discovering the world’s oldest winery at the Areni 1 cave complex in Armenia following excavations and archaeological work, which the National Geographic Society itself had partially funded. The winery in question dated to approximately 6,000 years ago and was developed sometime between 4100 BC and 4000 BC when Armenia was still in the Copper Age or Chalcolithic Period. The Areni 1 cave complex was not the earliest centre of viticulture to ever be discovered, but it is seemingly the earliest winery where wine was mass produced thousands of years ago using presses and facilities to produce large quantities, all at the one site. Thus, Armenia holds the title of having been host to the world’s first known winery in the modern sense of the term. For more information, see the article ‘Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave’, by James Owen in National Geographic, 12 January 2011.
January 12, 2017: On this day, devastating wildfires raged across South Africa’s Western Cape wine region, destroying vineyards and buildings. The first flames broke out on Jan. 3, affecting vineyards such as Vergelegen, Morgenster, and Lourensford; another fire in Paarl’s Dal Josafat district caused enormous damage to wineries. High winds of up to 60 miles per hour, along with unusually dry circumstances, have impeded firefighters’ efforts to put out the fires, with new outbreaks being reported on the Cape Peninsula, near the Constantia wine area.
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