June 9, 68: On this day, nearly two thousand years ago, the Roman Emperor Nero committed suicide outside Rome. He had just been displaced from the throne by a pretender called Galba, who briefly became emperor himself. This was following years of mismanagement of the empire by Nero, who had been blamed by much of the Roman people for the Great Fire of Rome which destroyed a huge proportion of the city in 64 AD. Nero’s death ended his plans to extend the Roman Empire in Eastern Europe into the region around modern-day Moldova, Odesa, and the Crimean Peninsula. Even at this early time, Crimea had already become a notable center of wine production in Eastern Europe and had been trading its product around the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean for centuries. The Romans had extensive connections with this region in the north-east of the Balkans and what is now southern Ukraine, however, had Nero survived for longer and his plans been realized the Romans might have come to rule this extensive wine-producing region of the ancient world. For more information, see Theodor Mommsen’s, The Provinces of the Roman Empire, from Caesar to Diocletian (London, 1996), p. 317.

June 9, 1882: On this day, Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California, opened its wine tasting room to the public.

June 9, 1998: On this day, Bordeaux Wine Festival was launched. The festival, held in Bordeaux, France, is a celebration of the appellation’s history, culture, and people. The events include parties, performances, fireworks, and more, concluding at the time of the harvest of the grapes in July.

June 9, 2020: On this day, it was announced jointly by two of the top family-run wineries in America that Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery would be purchased by Foley Family Wines (FFW). Ferrari-Carano is well recognized for creating award-winning, high-end wines from some of Sonoma County’s most prestigious vineyard sites, including their highly regarded Fumé Blanc.

June 9, 2021: Alejandro Orfila, an Argentinean ambassador and vintner from San Diego, died on this day. He was a global leader. In the span of his 38-year career, he rose first from the position of foreign service officer to chief ambassador. Additionally, he served as the Organization of American States (OAS) secretary general from 1975 to 1984. The OAS is a body that now represents 35 countries in North, South, and Latin America. The signing of the Panama Canal Treaty between the United States and Panama in 1977 was his biggest accomplishment with the OAS. He also collaborated with President Carter to reconstitute a commission looking into Latin American human rights violations. Orfila continued to work in Washington as a business consultant, investor in real estate, and international finance after leaving the OAS in the year 1984, and in the year 1989, they moved into retirement in San Diego. After four years, they were able to acquire Thomas Jaeger Winery in the San Pasqual Valley and were able to change its name to Orfila Vineyards. The purchase included 3,183 acres of land—1,223 planted to 21 vineyard sites—across the appellations of Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Carneros Napa Valley, Mendocino Ridge, and Anderson Valley, as well as the Ferrari-Carano Estate Winery in Dry Creek Valley with its Villa Fiore Tasting Room and three other secluded tasting rooms. It also included the PreVail Mountain Winery on the east side of Alexander Valley high above the town of Gey, several houses, a sizable, temperature-controlled warehouse, and the Estate Winery Garden, which is home to over 2,000 different kinds of plants. With the financial investment and expertise of the Italian winemaker Leon Santoro, the vineyard rose to become one of the most renowned and respected in the region.

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