May 16, 1643: Louis XIV ascended to power on this day. Louis XIV, born on September 5, 1638, became the King of France at age 4, ruling for 72 years. During his time, Louis XIV became the most notable brand ambassador for champagne. Under his doctor, Antoine d’Aquin’s advice, he drank champagne in all his meals for most of his life until a new doctor prescribed a Burgundy cure in his later years. Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, was described as the king of wines. His house, the House of Bourbon, appreciated champagne. His great-grandson, Louis Duke of Anjou (Louis XV), loved champagne produced by Claude Moet. Moet founded the champagne house that later became Moet & Chandon. For more information, see this article by Sophie McCabe.
May 16, 1983: On this day, Santa Ynez Valley AVA was established. While it may bear the name of the Santa Ynez Valley (and river), it is actually one of five viticultural areas in the valley.
May 16, 2008: On this day, the winemaker Robert Mondavi passed away. During his lifetime, he contributed to the wine development of the Napa Valley and its reputation as one of the best wine regions in the world. Mondavi’s skill with marketing ensured that labelling wines by varietal became a standard industry practice amongst American wine makers, and his work on his estate Robert Mondavi Winery incited a new wave in Post-Prohibition wine making. For more on Robert Mondavi, see our other posts.
May 16, 2016: On this day, Napa’s Far Niente Wine Estates, which included the Far Niente winery as well as sister labels Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, EnRoute, and Bella Union, were acquired by private equity firm GI Partners for a controlling share. Members of the company’s founding family Beth Nickel and Erik Nickel, as well as senior executives Dirk Hampson and Larry Maguire, continued to be shareholders and are actively involved in running the wineries daily. The company’s CEO and director of winemaking, Hampson, expressed his excitement at GI Partners’ investment in Far Niente. Along with a new partner who shares our commitment to producing wine without compromise, we have a seasoned and professional winemaking and management team that is passionate about the beverage. The amount of GI Partners’ ownership in the business was disclosed by neither party, but it was a significant portion of the stock.
May 16, 2019: French vintner and winery owner André Lurton passed away on this day. The Bordeaux winemaking company he founded under his name, which he primarily held and was passed solely to his children following his death. Grézillac, a village in the Gironde department, is where Lurton was from. He began participating actively in farming and winemaking business in the late 1940s. From 1953 until 1996, he was vice president of the Syndicat Viticole des Bordeaux et Bordeaux Supérieur and sought to resurrect the Syndicat Viticole de l’Entre-Deux-Mers. He served as the organization’s director from 1966 to 1986. He played a key role in the creation of Pessac-Léognan as a distinct appellation to cover the high-end subregion of Graves while serving as president of the Syndicat Viticole des Hautes Graves et Bordeaux from 1974 to 1980, the Syndicat Viticole de Pessac et Léognan from 1980 to 1987, and the Syndicat Viticole de Pessac-Léognan.