June 8, 632: On this day the Prophet Muhammad, founder of the religion of Islam, died at the city of Medina in western Arabia. Muhammad emerged as a religious leader in the cities of western Arabia in the 610s. During the course of the 620s he built up a major following and by the time of his death most of the population of Arabia had been converted to Islam. In the decades that followed his followers launched a series of massive military campaigns and eventually his successors would rule an Arab Caliphate, or holy empire, centred on the city of Baghdad. Typically Islam is perceived as a religion which rejects the consumption of alcohol and so the rise of Islam should have led to a major decline in the wine culture of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East in the centuries that followed. But in fact the situation was much more nuanced, with the trade in wine and its cultural role being more considerable across the region between 600 and 1300 than we would naturally assume. For more information, see Kathryn M. Kueny’s The Rhetoric of Sobriety: Wine in Early Islam (Albany, New York, 2001).

June 8, 1927: On this day, Jacques Puisais was born. Puisais was a renowned oenologist, a chemistry PhD, and an educator and researcher around the subject of taste. He forged crucial aspects of the pedagogy for teaching wine and food appreciation. Additionally, Puisais was a member of the INAO, the director of Tours’ Laboratoire Départemental et Régional d’Analyses, and the founder of the Institut Français du Goût. He passed away on December 6, 2020.

June 8, 1944: On this day, Boz Scaggs was born. Scaggs is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist who achieved success both in his solo career and with the Steve Miller Band. He owns Scaggs Vineyard in Napa Valley.

June 8, 1960: On this day, Mick Hucknall was born. Hucknall is a singer and songwriter, the front man of Simply Red. He owns Il Cantante (“The Singer”), through which he produces wines in collaboration with Salvo Foti.

June 8, 2006: San Antonio Valley AVA was established in the center of San Antonio Valley in the southern part of Monterey County. The AVA boasts a warm climate but experiences morning fog from Lake San Antonio and evening cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The AVA’s elevation ranges from 580 to 2800, encompassing over 800 acres of land under vines.

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