Monday, July 25, 2016

Where in the US of A is Vinogirl: 2016?

I recently decided that I didn't know nearly enough about the history of viticulture in the United States, so I have been making an effort to find books that will give me a better understanding of how American winegrape-growing arrived at where it is today.  Not just the genesis of grape growing in California (think Saint Junipero Serra), but in other states also. Thomas Pellechia's Over a Barrel was a fabulous introduction to the homegrown wine industry in New York's Finger Lakes.  Of course the winegrapes grown in the northern part of the state of New York were not the European winegrape-bearing Vitis vinifera that I am familiar with.  No, in the early days, the native grape species grown in vineyards around the Finger Lakes region for wine production were predominantly Vitis labrusca and Vitis rotundifolia.  I have tasted wines produced from these two American Vitis species (anybody remember my Wines of the World class?) and at best the wines produced from those grapes provided entertainment value only.
So where am I going with all of this?  Well, I am travelling at present visiting family members in the Beehive state - yes, I am in Utah once again (and have been since last Thursday).  But I could be forgiven for thinking I was actually in Pennsylvania as I spent some time today hanging out in an Amish store.  And it was in the Apple Creek Amish Market, in Provo, where I spotted some bottles of grape juice made from native American Vitis species.  Yes, an Amish store in this bastion of Mormonism.  But it's not wine, it is just juice made from V. rotundifolia, the Muscadine juice, and V. labrusca, the Concord juice - from Arkansas. Very convoluted. Just thought finding these two juices in an Amish shop was amusing (not amusing enough to buy, though).  Besides, I would have thought I'd have found some mead in the Beehive State.


Thomas said...

Got the travel bug?

Two of the best books to cover American wine are Thomas Pinney's Vol I and Vol II.

It is fascinatong to find out how modern-day commercial wine really got to California, and where it began--and that Catawba was part of the its beginning. It's also fascinating to discover that Kentucky was the first place to produce commercial US wine, followed by the Midwest, Pennsylvania and New York--each before California.

To get the full feel for why Midwest and East Coast wine was so popular, you must try to taste sparkling wine produced from Catawba.

Thomas said...

fascinatong--now there's a new word.

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: I already own the two volumes by Thomas Pinney, but I must say that I found your style of writing much more engaging. Did I tell you how much I enjoyed 'Over a Barrel'?

Could you recommend a sparkling Catawba?

Thomas said...

"Did I tell you how much I enjoyed 'Over a Barrel'?"

Well, you did now. Thanks. The publisher entered it, but it did not win an award.

I, too, find academic writing tedious, but it's hard to make such dry information move along smoothly and engagingly. It helps to focus on the various characters that shape a story.

The best I can come up with is the revived production of the Great Western "champagne" brand. It used to be nationally distributed; don't know if it still is. Maybe you can find it--or maybe I can send you one. Address? Offline, of course.

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: I will see if I can find the Great Western wine online myself, but thanks for the kind offer of finding it for me :)

Thud said...

Well I'm substituting root beer for Peroni....all for a good cause.

Vinogirl said...

Thud: That's OK, we'll make Wednesday nights 'Peroni Night' in Dry Creek.