June 7, 1494: On in this day in 1494 the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed in the Spanish town of Tordesillas. The treaty was essentially an agreement between Portugal and Spain to divide the world outside of Europe into Portuguese and Spanish spheres of influence. The dividing line was a meridian lying 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, with Spain having control over everything west of this line and Portugal acquiring everything to the east. At the time it was believed that the Portuguese would thus acquire Africa and Asia, while the Americas would fall to the Spanish. However, it quickly became apparent that an enormous mass of land in South America, corresponding with what we would now term Brazil, lay on the Portuguese side of the dividing line. The Portuguese quickly began developing their own colonies here. By the 1530s they were beginning to develop an indigenous wine industry. Consequently, the Portuguese roots of the Brazilian wine industry are in many ways the result of some faulty map-drawing prior to the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas. For more information, see Edward G. Bourne’s ‘The History and Determination of the Line of Demarcation by Pope Alexander VI, between the Spanish and Portuguese Fields of Discovery and Colonization’, in American Historical Association, Annual Report for 1891, Vol. 5 (1891–1892), pp.103–130.
June 7, 1992: On this day, Atlas Peak officially gained American Viticultural Area (AVA) status. Since 1870, when the first vines were established in the region, Atlas Peak has produced wines that garnered widespread acclaim. Chasselas, Malvoisie, Burgundy, Muscat, Flaming Tokay, Mission, Riesling, and Zinfandel were among the varietals grown in the area. Zinfandel was the variety for which the region was arguably most well-known.
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