June 14, 1830: On this day in 1830 a French army consisting of 34,000 men under the command of General Louis-Auguste de Bourmont landed 27 kilometers west of Algiers in Algeria to begin the French conquest of this vast portion of North Africa. France established a significant colony here in the years that followed, though it would always be centred on the northern coastal part of modern Algeria north of the Atlas Mountains. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, French settlers in Algeria, of which there were tens of thousands by then, began planting vineyards across the colony. The slopes of the Atlas Mountains were a particularly attractive region for viticulture with a perfect microclimate. Eventually, the Algerian wine industry became so large that it was the most extensive wine exporter in the world for most of the first half of the twentieth century by a very considerable stretch, a result of most of the wine being produced in Algeria being shipped abroad.
June 14, 1924: On in this day in 1924 Jacques de Morgan, a French archaeologist and engineer, died. Twenty-three years earlier he had led an expedition to the ancient city of Susa in the lower Zagros Mountains of what is now western Iran. There he and a fellow Egyptologist, Gustav Jéquier, discovered an ancient stele containing the Law Code of Hammurabi, an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia around 3,700 years ago. The Law Code contained over 280 laws, several of which addressed the politics and legalities of wine in ancient Babylon. For instance, if people of bad character gathered in the establishment of a wine merchant, and the said wine merchant did not try to have them arrested, then the wine merchant was to be put to death. Several other strictures proposed equally brutal sanctions. The harshness of these aside, what is interesting about this is that Hammurabi’s Law Code indicates how engrained wine had become in the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent by four millennia ago that laws were being created around its sale and consumption. For more information, see this page with the full translated text of Hammurabi’s Law Code, and this page detailing the history of the code.
June 14, 1927: On this day, the Pedroncellis, an Italian immigrant family who settled in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, acquired land in the valley, which is now home to a substantial amount of the world’s wine production.
June 14, 1933: The Louis M. Martini Winery was founded on this date. Louis M. Martini was born in 1887 in Pietra Ligure, on the Italian Riviera, not distant from numerous other Napa Valley vintners with origins in this region. He immigrated to the United States with his family when he was young.
June 14, 1982: On this day, Chalone Valley AVA was established in California. The viticultural area is only home to a small number of properties, with under ten vineyards and wineries combined. However, the wines produced here are noted for their complexity thanks to the unique climate and volcanic soil from Mount Chalone.
June 14, 2017: On this day, Back to Burgundy was released. It is a French drama film that follows a conflicted group of siblings whose father becomes ill, leaving them to decide how to handle the wine estate they were raised on.
For more dates in wine history, click here.