July 31, 1556: On this day, Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (more commonly known as the Jesuits) died in the city of Rome. The Jesuits had been established in 1540 as a religious order with the twin goals of preventing the further spread of Protestantism in Europe and also spreading the Christian faith to non-believers in the Americas, Asia and Africa. The Jesuits would go on to play a pivotal role in Catholic missionary efforts across the world between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet their role in the development of New World wine was just as significant. In many regions, notably in the Americas and Australia, they would develop their own vineyards and wineries to make sacramental wine to aid in their proselytising missions. In the process they introduced viticulture to many countries and pioneered the cultivation of vineyards in some of the most acclaimed wine regions in the world today. For more information, see Nicholas Cushner’s Lords of the Land: Sugar, Wine, and Jesuit Estates of Coastal Peru (Albany, New York, 1980), as well as his work Jesuit Ranches and the Agrarian Development of Colonial Argentina, 1650–1767 (Albany, New York, 1983). See also Philip Caraman’s Ignatius Loyola: A Biography of the Founder of the Jesuits (San Francisco, 1990) or William Meissner’s Ignatius of Loyola: The Psychology of a Saint (New Haven, 1992).
July 31, 1905: The French Governer-General of Algeria, Charles Jonnart, collaborated with a British partner to sell a huge volume of Algerian wine in London. Algeria had previously been restricted to French markets. The ensuing uproar in France over this market shift led to the origins of appellations being listed on wine labels.
July 31, 1909: On this day, Harold Olmo was born. He is associated with one of the rarest grape varieties in America. Professor at the University of California, Davis, American viticulturist Harold Olmo created several innovative grape varieties that are now known as Olmo grapes. On the UC Davis campus, he labored to construct California’s first quarantine facility in the 1950s so that California growers could bring in foreign vines. In 1948, Olmo imported the first Assyrtiko grape cuttings. The white Greek wine grape Assyrtiko or Asyrtiko is exclusive to the island of Santorini. Santorini and other Aegean islands, like Paros, have arid soil that is rich in volcanic ash, and assyrtiko is extensively planted there. Other sparsely populated areas of Greece, like Chalkidiki, also contain it. In addition, assyrtiko is grown in the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Northern California, where it has been since 2011, by Jim Barry Wines in Clare Valley, South Australia, and by a 1st Greek family at Kefi Winery in Monroe, North Carolina.
July 31, 1911: On this day, James F. Guymon was born and died on May 20, 1978. He worked on the Chemical Processes Involved in the Production of Brandy from Wines. A distillation of the wine that has been fermented as soon as the fermentation process is over, then a partial racking of the heavy fermentation lees to remove sediment.
July 31, 1978: Zac Brown was born. He is most widely known for his eponymous country band, the Zac Brown Band. He is the co-founder and proprietor of Z. Alexander Brown winery, along with veteran winemaker John Killebrew.
July 31, 1987: In this year, International Pinot Noir Celebration was launched. The IPNC is an extravagant weekend-long celebration in Oregon of one of the world’s most popular red wines, featuring tastings, seminars, tours, and even an open-fire salmon bake.
July 31, 2007: On this day, the Lavaux vineyard terraces, on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, were declared a World Heritage Site. According to the UNESCO website, “The area was ruled by Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in the 11th century, which is when the current vine terraces were first built. It is a superb illustration of how people have interacted with their environment for ages. There is some proof that the region had vineyards throughout the Roman era. It was created to use local resources in order to produce a highly valued wine that has always been vital to the economy”.
July 31, 2012: Hexi Corridor Wine gained its geographical indications protection on this day. The Hexi Corridor is a region in China’s western Gansu province.
July 31, 2020: The restored Port vineyards that make up the New Culture District (WOW), on the banks of the Douro River in Portugal, opened to the public. 7 distinct museums may be found at WOW. One of the attractions is The Wine Experience, where you’ll find out how the beverage is made and its history. The Pink Palace is another option. It’s a hands-on museum where visitors can learn about rosé by playing in a pink ball pool and other interesting displays. Within WOW, you’ll find twelve eateries, pubs, and cafés. On a variety of subjects, including Portuguese wine and how to pair wine with chocolate, the Wine School also regularly hosts tastings and classes.
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