October 27, 1581: On this day, Francisco de Aguirre died. Son of Constanza de Meneses and Hernando de la Ra, Francisco de Aguirre was born in 1580. He enlisted in Carlos I’s army and took part in both the 1527 attack on Rome and the Battle of Pavia. In 1517, while serving as an Alférez in Rome, he was tasked with protecting a convent. As payment, the Pope permitted him to wed his cousin, Mara de Torres y Meneses, and the King appointed him the guardian of Talavera de la Reina. He relocated his troops—consisting of 15 horses and 10-foot soldiers—to Tarapacá when he learned Pedro de Valdivia was advancing on Chile in 1540 and waited there for two months before joining him. Aguirre quickly established himself as Valdivia’s trusted confidant and rose to prominence in the fledgling settlement, serving as one of Santiago’s first alcaldes and suffering serious wounds while defending the city against local Indians led by Michimalonco on September 11, 1541, when they attempted to destroy it. Local lore claims that the first vines were planted by the conquistador Francisco de Aguirre. Most likely, the vines sprang from existing Spanish vineyards that were planted in Peru and contained the “common black grape,” as it was known, which Hernán Cortés introduced to Mexico in 1520. This grape variety would eventually give rise to the Pais grape, which would eventually overtake it as the most extensively grown grape in Chile until the twenty-first century.
October 27, 1925: On this day, Sir Brian Henry McGrath was born. In addition to his role as Private Secretary to the Duke of Edinburgh, he held numerous directorships in wineries and brewing companies. McGrath worked with Allied Breweries Ltd., Cannon Brewery, and Victoriea Wine Ltd. He was also a certified Master of Wine. He passed away on June 4, 2016, at the age of 90.
October 27, 1997: Mendocino Ridge AVA was established. It consists of any wine-growing site elevated above 1200 ft in Mendocino County and Anderson Valley AVAs. The AVA cover over a quarter-million acres of mountain peaks around Redwood and Douglas with only 75 acres of planted vines. The entire AVA is planted with Zinfandel varietal.
October 27, 2020: On this day, Tom Stevenson and Orsi Szentkiralyi published The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. Its 800 page length and extensive collection of images and maps make this book a thorough guide to wine, its taxonomies, its industries, and its production process. Organized geographically, each page is full of information written by experts and includes everything from types of climate, vineyards, bottles, types of grapes, a guide to tasting rooms, manufacturers, history, recommendations and even a chronological presentation of the greatest wine events of humanity.
October 27, 2021: On this day, two robbers committed an expensive theft: 45 bottles of wine from a collection at a posh hotel and restaurant complex in southwest Spain including a very rare 215-year-old bottle valued at 350,000 euros ($407,000). According to José Polo, one of the owners of Atrio, a complex that includes a hotel and a two-Michelin-starred restaurant with a cellar housing more than 40,000 bottles in the city of Caceres, the heist happened in the early hours. Polo, the collector who chose to reveal the robbery in a letter to clients and friends, told The Associated Press, “They were pros, they understood precisely what they were doing.” The suspects are an English-speaking man and woman who gave off the impression of being a classy pair to hotel staff and dined at the establishment’s restaurant. Then, when the hotel front desk employee walked to the kitchen, leaving the security camera monitors unattended, the man crept into the cellar and grabbed the bottles, according to Polo.
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