October 22, 1685: On this day in 1685 the Edict of Fontainebleau was issued in France by the government of King Louis XIV. Through it, the French government essentially revoked religious toleration for France’s Protestants, which they had earlier been granted under the Edict of Nantes (1598). Over the next few years, hundreds of thousands of Huguenots, as the French Protestants were known, left France, settling primarily in Protestant-dominated regions such as the Dutch Republic, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and parts of Germany. Some even headed overseas, settling in regions like the Dutch Cape Colony in what is now South Africa. Those who settled here were enormously influential in establishing the South African wine industry in the decades that followed. They brought expertise in the viticulture of a kind to the Cape which only the French had in the late seventeenth century. Indeed, such was their influence that South Africa was the first wine-producing country outside of Europe to gain some considerable acclaim for its product, with Constantia sweet wines becoming highly sought after during the eighteenth century. For more, see ‘Settlers Skills and Colonial Development: The Huguenot Wine-Makers in Eighteenth-Century Dutch South Africa’, by Johan Fourie and Dieter von Fintel, in The Economic History Review, Vol. 67, No. 4, Special Issue: The Renaissance of African Economic History (November 2014), pp. 932–963.
October 22, 1922: Baron Philippe de Rothschild took over the Château Mouton-Rothschild estate as part of an inheritance. According to an official account, “candlelight and well-water were still in use” when he arrived (Château Mouton-Rothschild website). For more on Philippe de Rothschild, see our other posts.
October 22, 2012: On this day, for the first time, better quality DOC and DOCG wines were allowed to be sealed with synthetic corks and screwcaps, according to Italian authorities. The decision created a new front in the contentious discussion about closures in the wine sector.
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