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by Fred McMillin
Noah to Napa
A Short Course in the History of Wine
I've seen from the air many landmarks of Western civilization during some 40 flights between Tehran and London. The most spine-tingling sight of all was a 17,000-foot, ice-capped dome standing in lonely majesty in eastern Turkey...where, it is written, Noah disembarked after the deluge and "planted a vineyard." The noble peak is Mount Ararat.
The Rest of the Story
What grape was available then? My research (including checking with U.C.-Davis) indicates it was a Muscat. Hence, next month's course at S.F. State (Extended Ed) opens with the story of Noah's Muscat and closes with a Napa Valley Muscat. How did the variety get to California?
The Hungarian Connection
At age 18, Agoston Haraszthy became a member of the Royal Hungarian bodyguard for Francis I, Hungarian Emperor and Napoleon's father-in-law. Well educated, Agoston's future looked bright until he and some other officers became too interested in democratic reform. In 1837 several of his associates were tossed into the slammer for treason! Wisely, before long, Col. Haraszthy was in California. Minister of War General Lazar Meszaros was in Plainfield, New Jersey. It was the General who sent Agoston some cuttings in 1851...including Muscat. These and cuttings coming to California nurseries from New England were the Golden State's first Muscats. and the grape has not gone away. The 1999 crush was 45,000 tons. One of the crushers was Daryl Sattui, who made our...
Wine of the Day
1998 Sattui MUSCAT Dessert Wine
About the Muscat—To keep this short and sweet, we've avoided the fact that the Muscat grape comes in over 200 models. Common in California are the Muscat Canelli, Muscat of Alexandria (General Meszaros' cuttings), Black Muscat, Orange Muscat, etc., etc.
Note: To enroll in Noah to Napa in S.F., phone (415) 405-7700.
This page created April 2000