by Fred McMillin
for October 25, 1999


It's Mother-in-Law's Day!



Wedding in Santa Clara Valley, 1881—Dashing, debonnair, French vintner Pierre Huste Mirassou marries Henrietta Pellier. He is soon making wine from French vines saved by his in-laws, Pierre and Henriette Pellier. So, Henritte Pellier is our Mother-In Law of the Year. Here's how she and her husband saved some of the first cuttings shipped to California from Bordeaux.

Henritte Pellier

Our Mother-in-Law of the Year Henriette Pellier and husband Pierre soon after they arrived with their Bordeaux cuttings in 1856.

The Rest of the Story

Robert Balzer describes the couple's scary, 1856 adventure this way...

The voyage with those precious cuttings seemed doomed. The sailing ship was becalmed. For days, the ship lay motionless on the glassy, flat Atlantic. The sails hung limp from the riggings. Some of the passengers prayed. The Pelliers were denied any further water to keep their withering saplings moist. Suddenly, an inspiration. There were great sacks of potatoes in the hold. They negotiated the purchase of the potatoes with the captain, split the ends, inserted a cutting in each, and saved the whole venture!

Our Toast to Henriette

Tonight's toast MUST be from a grape of French origin. One of modern Mirasson's best is Pinot'll find it's a real mouthful with pleasing French-oak flavors, as well.

1997 Reserve Pinot Blanc, Monterey County
Mirassou Vineyards, Santa Clara, CA.
Rating—Overall critical appraisal is that this varietal ranks right up with Chardonnay as one of Mirassou's two best whites. My panel gave the 1997 a rousing RECOMMENDED. Over 85% of the tasters rated it GOOD or better.
Food Affinity—Shellfish with pasta; Swordfish taco at the Cafe Marimba in San Francisco.
New Awards Record—When I last checked, this Blanc had averaged two gold medals for six successive years. Not bad!
Contact—Director of Communications Dave Muret, (408) 274-4000, FAX (408) 270-5881


Quick! What winery produces the most Pinot Blanc in the world? Answer...Mirassou.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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