March 8, 1723: On this day in 1723 a royal charter was granted in England to the Chelsea Waterworks Company “for the better supplying the City and Liberties of Westminster and parts adjacent with water.” The company established extensive freshwater ponds in the region, which supplied the city of London with fresh drinking water. Up until this point many people in countries like England, particularly where they were living in large cities and towns, generally drank alcohol like beer and wine in order to avoid the diseases which lurked in unclean water. Consequently many people drank seven or eight pints of beer or glasses of wine every day in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was a result of companies like the Chelsea Waterworks Company and others like it across Western Europe that the citizens of London and other metropolises could finally begin in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries weaning themselves off beer and weak wine as ways of ensuring a sanitary intake of liquids and feel relatively safe drinking water supplied by the city. For more information, see ‘The Chelsea Waterworks Company’, in Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert (eds.), The London Encyclopaedia (London, 1995).
March 8, 1901: On this day California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo was founded. The university offers a Bachelor’s degree in Wine & Viticulture.
March 8, 1927: On this day, Helmut Becker was born. He was one of the most prominent figures in modern viticulture and winemaking, who promoted the globalization of the wine industry by breeding grape varieties that can grow anywhere like Saphira, Rondo, Prinzipal, and Dakapo.
March 8, 1951: On this day, Tom Stevenson was born in England. He has written dozens of books, both fiction and nonfiction, and is regarded as not only the world’s most knowledgeable specialist on the wine region of Champagne, but also one of the world’s most important wine writers.
March 8, 2002: On this day, 1907 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne was sold at $275,000. It was rescued from a shipwreck that crashed in 1916 and is the world’s most expensive bottle of Champagne.
March 8, 2012: On this day, Rudy Kurniawan’s home in Arcadia was invaded by a half-dozen FBI investigators. They found an incredible scene inside: there were hundreds of wine bottles in various degrees of falsification. They also found nearly 20,000 artificially aged printed labels from the world’s 27 rarest wines, as well as complete instructions on how to make them. It was a major wine-related fraud.
March 8, 2022: On this day, the Raise Your Glass for Equality Toast. Women of the Vine & Spirits (WOTVS), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the wine, beer, and spirits industries toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive era, has released the program details for its annual free and public event, Raise Your Glass for Equality Toast, which will be held virtually on International Women’s Day.
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