October 31, 1723: On this day in 1723 the sixth Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de Medici, died at the Pitti Palace in the city of Florence. Cosimo is remembered for many things, not least inflicting huge damage to the Tuscan economy and imposing strict moral laws on the duchy. But in one area he was a genuinely progressive innovator, for it was Duke Cosimo who in 1716 is understood to have introduced the idea of delineating wines according to the geographical region or terroir they were produced in. He did this for the Chianti and Carmignano regions and appears to have been the first individual to impose such a classification system anywhere in Europe. It was forty years before this innovation was copied for the Duoro Valley region in Portugal in 1756 and the idea then caught on in France to delineate regions such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne. For more, see Jancis Robinson’s entry on geographical delineation in The Oxford Companion to Wine (Third Edition, Oxford, 2006), and Harold Acton’s The Last Medici (London, 1980).
October 31, 1864: The wine area of Castilla y León was established. Old Castile, a landlocked region in the center of Spain, is renowned for its gothic churches and castles, which showcase the area’s dedication to preserving its rich heritage. It also has long-standing winemaking customs that date back thousands of years. There are currently 11 wine sub-regions within it, with Ribera del Duero being the most well-known.
October 31, 1892: On this day, Charles Krug died. From Prussia, Charles Krug traveled to the United States in 1847, and he became a citizen in 1852. Before opening his winery in 1854, he worked as an apprentice winemaker for Agoston Haraszthy and later John Patchett. On December 26, 1860, Krug wedded Carolina Bale, a descendant of Mara Isidora Vallejo of the illustrious Vallejo dynasty of California and the daughter of early Napa Valley pioneer and miller Edward Turner Bale. Many referred to Krug as “the father of Napa Valley wine” and said he had a gift for marketing. Sadly, during the 1873 slump, Krug filed for bankruptcy.
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