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by Fred McMillin
San Gabriel Rang The Bell
"Our Old Vines Heritage Red comes from Rhone varietals planted in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains."
...Winemaker Chuck Carlson, Curtis Winery
The Rest of the Story
The Rhone Ranger interest in California-grown Rhone River French varietals is a recent development. What's this talk about old Rhone vines in the San Gabriel mountains? Here's the story.
Sept. 8,1771—The "Mision [sic] del Santo Arcangel San Gabriel de los Temblores" (Mission of the Holy Archangel Saint Gabriel of the Earthquakes) is established. It became the leading wine producer of all twenty one missions, making something like 500 barrels a year from its four vineyards. They had no Rhone varietals.
c.1865—The first Rhone varietals (Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignane) are brought to the San Gabriel Valley by Tennessee-born Benjamin Wilson, who helped make it California's leading wine region.
c.1890—A flood of Italians reached California, bringing Mediterranean favorites including Mourvedre and Carignane. Some of them are planted in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. The descendants of these vines made today's wine.
Wine of the Day
1996 Heritage Old Vines Red
Mission San Gabriel also made brandy. The most noted missionary distiller at the time was Father Narciso Duran. His brandy was described as "double distilled and twice as strong as the good father's faith."
Credits: Prof. Thomas Pinney, Prof. Erwin Gudde
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