September 28, 1542: On this day the explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo landed with his expedition on behalf of the Spanish monarch, King Charles V, at San Diego Bay in southern California. It was the first time that a European expedition had reached California. In the weeks that followed, his small armada of three ships explored much of the coast north as far as what is now San Francisco. Yet, because of how geographically remote California was from the main centers of Spanish settlements in Central Mexico at the time, the Spanish did not establish colonies there for over 220 years. When they finally did, it was a result of Franciscan missionaries led by Father Junipero Serra. These established settlements such as San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, Ventura, and San Francisco. The Franciscans along the coast began planting vineyards in the 1770s and 1780s to make sacramental wine. Thus, it took over two centuries following the first discovery of California by the Spanish for the California wine industry to be established. For more information, see Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo by Harry Kelsey (San Marino, California, 1986). Also see Wendy Kramer’s ‘Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo: Citizen of Guatemala and Native of Palma del Rio: New Sources from the Sixteenth Century’, in The Journal of San Diego History, Vol. 62, Nos 3–4 (Summer–Fall, 2016), pp. 217–248, as well as the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County.
September 28, 1739: On this day, Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony was born. He was a Saxon prince from the House of Wettin who served as the Prince-Bishop of Augsburg from 1768 until 1812, the Prince-Bishop of Regensburg from 1763 until 1769, the Prince-Bishop of Freising from 1763 until 1768, the Archbishop-Elector of Trier from 1768 to 1803, and the Prince-Bishop of Freising from 1763 until 1768. The Elector and Archbishop, who was a wine expert, was instrumental in establishing the Mosel wine region. He ordered the replacement of all “poor” vines with Riesling vines to increase quality, and as a result, one of the world’s major Riesling-growing regions was created.
September 28, 1821: On this day in 1821 Mexico declared its independence from Spain, just one of many countries which were newly formed across Central and South America in the 1810s and 1820s as the Spanish Empire in America collapsed. Amongst a great many other things, Mexico’s independence marked the point at which a 122-year-old ordinance prohibiting the production of wine in the country by anyone other than the church authorities was lifted. The rule had been introduced in 1699 by King Charles II to protect the wine industry back in Spain itself, which had been suffering for some time from the competition by Mexican wines. As a result, the Mexican wine industry was reborn with the country’s independence. It soon developed significantly in parts of north-western Mexico, a part of the country which is becoming a major center of viticulture today.
September 28, 1924: Jean “Johnny” Frederic Hugel was born in Riquewihr, in the Alsace region of France. Hugel would come to be the central pioneer of the 20th century Alsatian wine industry. After World War II he attained a Master’s degree in Agronomy, which he used to co-manage his family farm Hugel & Fils and propel it into one of the most important and high-end wineries in the rapidly rising Alsatian industry. He set trends in wine making at the time and also served as an active voice in the development of the legal boundaries and guidelines for Alsatian vineyards. He stepped back from his active management role in 1997, and passed away in 2009.
September 28, 1948: On this day, Alain Wertheimer was born in Paris. Wertheimer, a billionaire, is co-owner and chairman at Chanel. Although he is based out of New York City, he and his brother own multiple critically acclaimed French vineyards.
September 28, 1949: Jill Priscilla Goolden was born in Surrey. She is an eccentric, idiosyncratic wine critic and television presenter, notably the co-host of BBC2’s Food and Drink show for 18 years, though she is also known for hosting BBC Holiday shows and programs about antiquing. She has written multiple books on wine, and a couple on the methods behind palmistry and palm reading.
September 28, 2006: On this day, one dozen bottles of 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild were sold for nearly $300,000 at an auction organized by Christie’s Los Angeles. Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, great-grandfather to Philippe de Rothschild, bought the Château, at the time named Château Brane-Mouton. He then renamed it to Château Mouton-Rothschild. The estate became the first Bordeaux vineyard and winery to achieve a Premier Cru Classé (First Growth classification, a high distinction in winemaking) in 1973, and also set the trend for Châteaux to bottle their own wine, rather than deliver it to merchants in barrels (Baron Philippe de Rothschild website).
September 28, 2006: On this day, Vienna Wine Hiking Day was launched. This event takes place on one day in autumn, where wine and hiking enthusiasts alike can stroll one of the paths within city limits that covers some of the 1700+ acres of Viennese vineyards. While there were originally three paths (Neustift to Nussdorf, Strebersdorf to Stammersdorf, and Ottakring), a fourth has been introduced through Mauer to allow visitors to remain distanced from one another, and see beyond the familiar sights. According to the official Vienna informational site, “at many points along the way, Viennese vintners offer tastings from cellar and kitchen.”
September 28, 2021: On this day, a pioneering Argentine wine producer, Bernardo Weinert, died. Bernardo Weinert, who is known as the “developer of some of the most thrilling bottles in the history of Argentine wine,” was born in a small German settlement in southern Brazil, according to renowned sommelier Andres Rosberg. He began in shipping and eventually grew Transportes Coral into the biggest transport business in Brazil. Additionally, he was the first to use the Cristo Redentor pass to connect the Pacific in Chile with the Atlantic in his native country. He conducted a thorough analysis of the climate, soil, and vines of Medoza because he was fascinated by wine and saw Argentina’s potential. He then discovered Luján de Cuyo as the best location to establish Bodega & Cavas de Weinert in 1975. He renovated an old building, added the most recent equipment available, and left winemaking to the late Ral de la Mota, known as “the founder of modern Argentine viticulture” and “Argentina’s winemaker of the 20th century.”
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