Gov. Brown proclaims September 2014 as California Wine Month

Merlot grapes sit in bunches after being picked during a night harvest in Napa on Oct. 1, 2007.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

What with no rain, the Napa earthquake and a vineyard ban in Malibu, California winemakers need some cheering up.

Here’s some good news: Gov. Jerry Brown has declared September 2014 as California Wine Month. In doing so, he’s encouraging tourists from around the world to come “sample our vintages and enjoy the many other attractions that our several distinct wine regions have to offer.”

The actual proclamation begins with a history of the grape in California, admitting that the first vineyard in Spanish California was actually planted in 1683 at the “short-lived Mision San Bruno in what is now the Mexican state of Baja California Sur.” But by the late 1770s, according to the document, viticulture in Alta California was flourishing. And nearly all grapes grown in California then were a hardy, disease-resistant strain that came to be known as the “mission grape.”

The document goes on to explain that the first commercial vineyard was established in Los Angeles in 1824 by Joseph Chapman, and that the aptly named Frenchman Jean-Louis Vignes was first to introduce French vines in the 1830s. It is thought that Hungarian Count Agoston Haraszthy, founder of Buena Vista Winery, the oldest winery in the state still in production, may have introduced Zinfandel to California in the mid-19th century.


It’s a compact lesson in the history of wine in California disguised as a proclamation, covering subjects such as the first cultivated grapevines in Napa, the Gold Rush, Prohibition and the subsequent decline of the wine industry.

“It is a testament to the pioneering efforts of industry leaders like Robert Mondavi that today, the number of Americans identifying wine as their alcoholic beverage of choice is on a par with the number who choose beer,” reads the proclamation in government’s stilted language.

The governor does manage to get in a compliment to the public universities that have played a prominent role in advancing the science and technology of winemaking.

At the end of the proclamation, Brown exhorts Californians to join him “in raising a glass to the pioneers, beginning with Padre Kino, who helped bring this amazing bounty to our state, and the many diligent and innovative workers today who help the industry continue to thrive.”

“NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim September, 2014, as “California Wine Month.

“IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 3rd day of September 2014.

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to raise my glass to California wine tonight or any other night in September. But especially a wine from Napa Valley, which has been so hard hit by last month’s earthquake just before harvest. California’s vintners are out there now, picking at night, picking in the heat, bringing in the grapes for the 2014 vintage.

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