September 10, Every Year: International Port Wine Day
September 10, 1756: On this day, the Companhia Geral da Agricultura des Vinhos do Alto Douro (which translates to the Company for the Cultivation of Vineyards in the Upper Douro) was established. Later, this business would adopt the Real Companhia Velha moniker, which is still used for Royal Oporto. The Company was the name by which the Portuguese referred to it in the 18th century. This was primarily Pombal’s corporation even though the King of Portugal “blessed” the Charter. In some ways, he behaved like a control freak reformer while running it like an autocratic ruler, enforcing discipline and restructuring the entire Port commerce. The Company set a regular price to benefit all who generate and exchange in them, attempting to avoid, on one hand, those high prices that, by prohibiting sales, destroy the stocks, and, on the other hand, those cheap costs that prevent the growers from spending the necessary amount on the crop production of their vineyards. “Maintaining the prestige of the wineries, the culture of the vines, and simultaneously fostering the commerce in the former” were the stated goals of this action. In other words, the key goal was to raise the level of port quality generally while also maximizing company profits. Such a monopoly has never existed anywhere in the history of wine!
September 10, 1919: On this day, the borders of the new Republic of Austria were demarcated in the Treaty of Saint Germain-en-Laye. Before the First World War, there were 48,000 hectares of vineyards in Austria; by the 1930s, there were only about 30,000.
September 10, 1986: On this day, GrapeFest, a festival dedicated to Texas wines, was launched. Texas is the fifth most prolific wine-producing state, and this festival in the town of Grapevine (yes, that’s its real name) celebrates its industry and history. There is an immense calendar of events and attractions, including tastings for international vintages and local batches, grape stomping, cooking demonstrations, and an Urban Wine Trail which takes aficionados through a gauntlet of wine tasting sites.
For more dates in wine history, click here.