"Happiness is having a large, caring, close-knit family...in another city."
The Rest of the Story
In that case, Father Junipero Serra, whose friars made California's first wine, must have been very happy.
Antonio and Margarita Serra had provided a warm, loving, farming family for him near Palma, Majorca. Yet, in 1749 he sailed from the island to Malaga, Spain, never to return. (Incidentally, the first vines his missionaries would plant in California probably came from Malaga.) Now, let's go forward to today's date in 1783.
The Crash Heard Around The World
On October 27, 1783, Frey Serra wrote of his joy that Mission San Juan Capistrano had made a barrel of wine. BUT, "When the barrel was being brought [north to him] it fell off the mule, broke into pieces, and all the wine was lost." What was probably a significant portion of California's first vintage—1782—was on the ground.
Winery of the Week
So, what has this to do with today's Winery of the Week. Well, the winery is located only 35 miles east of where California's first vintage was fermented...the one in the barrel that crashed.
Furthermore, we've learned that both Junipero Serra and those "first-wine" vines came from the Mediterranean area. Appropriately, most of the vines grown by the Mount Palomar Winery also come from the Mediterranean...chiefly southern France and Italy...Syrah, Sangiovese, Viognier, and some more exotic varieties. Who better to appreciate vines and wines from other cultures than Winemaker Etienne Cowper, whose first degree was not in wine science but in Cultural Anthropology!
Just the Facts
Mount Palomar Winery Temecula, California Contact—The office of Denise Sutterfield, (909) 676-5074, x-24; FX (909) 694-5688 Palomar Wines Scoring Well in My Tastings:
"Junipero" was not Father Serra's original name. The humorous, devoted Brother Juniper was a great favorite of St. Francis of Assisi. Father Serra admired Juniper greatly and chose his name to replace "Miguél Jose."
About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.