July 6, 1869: On this day, Agoston Haraszthy died. Agoston Haraszthy, known as “the founder of California winemaking,” immigrated to Wisconsin from Hungary in 1840 before moving on to San Diego and then Sonoma in 1846. He was already a legal magistrate at that point. He had also worked in the European wine trade and was the nephew of Marie Antoinette’s bodyguard. He had established a steamship firm and erected mills in Wisconsin, among other ventures, and had allegedly used his bare hands to kill a wolf. While tending to his vines, he built San Diego’s first jail and quickly advanced to the position of sheriff and departed under a cloud after a brief stint at the newly opened U.S. Mint in San Francisco, where he was accused of theft but later cleared. Buena Vista Winery was founded in 1855 by Haraszthy, who also bought Salvador’s vineyard. With underground tunnels and vineyards on the side of a hill, it was California’s first stone winery. He published “Report on Grapes and Wine of California” in 1858, and copies of it are still in circulation. As the president of the California State Agricultural Society, he had the responsibility of importing vine stock back from Europe. He sent in 10,000 cuttings of more than 350 grape varietals. He was criticized for failing to find a cure for the phylloxera that was hurting his 500 acres of vineyard and those of others.
July 6, 1953: On this day, Corinne Mentzelopoulos was born. She is the owner and operator of the prominent historical wine estate Château Margaux, in Bordeaux. In 2012 she was inducted into the Legion of Honor.
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