November 15, 1868: On this day in 1868 James Mayer de Rothschild, Baron de Rothschild, died in Paris at the age of 76. Rothschild hailed from the Rothschild family of Jewish German bankers and businesspeople, who had an established wealth going back centuries. They rose to become arguably the wealthiest family in world history in relative terms during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the early 1810s, when he was only in his early twenties, James had relocated to France from Germany to extend the family’s business interests into Paris, the capital of Napoleon Bonaparte’s European empire. Napoleon’s Empire collapsed within a few years, but the Rothschilds’ business dealings in France have lasted ever since. The most evident aspect of this was in James’s acquisition of several major wineries and wine estates in the Bordeaux region, including Chateau Lafite. Other family members continued this tradition and the Rothschilds remain one of the most significant families involved in the French wine trade down to the present day. For more information, see Anka Muhlstein’s Baron James: The Rise of the French Rothschilds (New York, 1983).
November 15, 1967: On this day, Earl Tywone Stevens Sr. was born. He is an American rapper known by his stage name E-40. Stevens is the founder of Sick Wid It Records as well as an original member of the long-standing rap group The Click. In addition to his prolific, platinum-selling career in the music industry, he holds distinction in the field of winemaking as the founder of Earl Stevens Selections in Central Valley, California.
November 15, 1990: Mt. Harlan AVA was established, located in Gabilan Mountains in San Benito County. The AVA’s terroir leads to low yields and wines with concentrated flavors. The 7447-acre AVA has 100a acres of planted vineyards, and its key grapes are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligote, and Viognier.
November 15, 1990: San Ysidro District AVA was founded as a sub-appellation of Santa Clara Valley AVA located in Santa Clara County. The AVA is distinguished from other AVAs in the county by its colder temperature. The AVA boasts clay and sandy loam soils. Its key grape is Merlot, although it also produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
November 15, 2021: On this day, following multiple transactions since the Santa Rosa firm went public earlier in the year, Vintage Wine Estates announced it was purchasing California Cider Company, the producer of the 1 million cases-per-year Ace brand. Then, on November 17, Treasury Wine Estates announced that it had signed a contract with Frank Family Vineyards to pay $315 million for the inventory and some assets of the brand, which sells 160,000 cases of luxury chardonnay annually. Although the stated motives for those agreements were different—diversification and market expansion for Vintage, and a drive into higher-end chardonnay wines for Treasury—seasoned brokers of such transactions say they had similarities to other mergers that have been completed or are currently pending.
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