Wines of Eastern North America

Wines of Eastern North America: From Prohibition to the Present—A History and Desk Reference

Hudson Cattell
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt32b4nt
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  • Book Info
    Wines of Eastern North America
    Book Description:

    In 1975 there were 125 wineries in eastern North America. By 2013 there were more than 2,400. How and why the eastern United States and Canada became a major wine region of the world is the subject of this history. Unlike winemakers in California with its Mediterranean climate, the pioneers who founded the industry after Prohibition-1933 in the United States and 1927 in Ontario-had to overcome natural obstacles such as subzero cold in winter and high humidity in the summer that favored diseases devastating to grapevines. Enologists and viticulturists at Eastern research stations began to find grapevine varieties that could survive in the East and make world-class wines. These pioneers were followed by an increasing number of dedicated growers and winemakers who fought in each of their states to get laws dating back to Prohibition changed so that an industry could begin.

    Hudson Cattell, a leading authority on the wines of the East, in this book presents a comprehensive history of the growth of the industry from Prohibition to today. He draws on extensive archival research and his more than thirty-five years as a wine journalist specializing in the grape and wine industry of the wines of eastern North America. The second section of the book adds detail to the history in the form of multiple appendixes that can be referred to time and again. Included here is information on the origin of grapes used for wine in the East, the crosses used in developing the French hybrids and other varieties, how the grapes were named, and the types of wines made in the East and when. Cattell also provides a state-by-state history of the earliest wineries that led the way.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6900-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. XI-XIV)
  4. Maps
    (pp. XV-XXIV)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-3)

    In thirty-five years the wine industry in eastern North America grew at a rapid pace from approximately 125 wineries in 1975 to more than 2,500 in 2010. During these years the East became an important wine region of the world as it was recognized that wine grapes could be profitably grown in the region and that outstanding wines made from them were winning prestigious awards in international competitions and finding widespread consumer acceptance. How this happened is the subject of this book.

    The book focuses on the states and provinces where the modern eastern wine industry came into being following...

  6. Chapter One Prohibition and Its Aftermath
    (pp. 4-23)

    Prohibition in the United States and Canada goes back to the temperance movements that had their beginnings in the early eighteenth century and became a reality in the patriotic fervor of World War I.¹ Although both countries went through Prohibition at approximately the same time, they experienced it in somewhat different ways and emerged from it with their own sets of governmental controls that affected not only the way the wine industry in each country was to grow, but the rate at which it was to develop.

    The modern history of the wine industry in the eastern United States and...

  7. Chapter Two Philip Wagner and the Arrival of the French Hybrids
    (pp. 24-43)

    The third place where the search began for ways to make European-style dry table wines was Riderwood, Maryland, where Philip Wagner settled in 1931. More than any other individual in the 1930s and 1940s, he was responsible for the establishment of the modern eastern wine industry.

    Philip Marshall Wagner was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on February 18, 1904.¹ He moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, that fall when his father, Charles P. Wagner, began a forty-three-year career as a professor in the Romance languages department at the University of Michigan. Wagner attended the University of Michigan, and when he graduated...

  8. Chapter Three Dr. Konstantin Frank and the Pro-Vinifera Crusade
    (pp. 44-63)

    One of the most controversial and influential figures in the modern eastern wine industry was Russian-born Dr. Konstantin Damien Frank, who settled in Hammondsport, New York, in 1953.¹ Frank pioneered the growing of vinifera in New York and crusaded tirelessly to get others throughout the East to plant them as well. His fiery advocacy of the vinifera and his fulminations against the French hybrids won him strong supporters as well as opponents who thought he went too far. To anyone who would listen he carried the message that Americans deserve “only excellent” grapes.

    Dr. Frank was fifty-two when he immigrated...

  9. Chapter Four Vineyards and Wineries before Farm Winery Legislation
    (pp. 64-90)

    Growing grapes in the East meant dealing with a difficult environment. Philip Wagner gave a memorable description of growing conditions in the East when he was the honorary research lecturer at the 1978 annual meeting of the American Society of Enologists in San Diego, California:

    In Maryland, I might say, conditions are ideal for experimental work with grapes. We are in the direct path of the Caribbean hurricanes, which usually drop 3 or 4 inches of rain on us the day before starting harvest. We are on the eastern, not the western, edge of the continental mass, meaning that we...

  10. Chapter Five Farm Winery Laws and Their Effects
    (pp. 91-103)

    One key to the growth of the eastern wine industry was the passage of farm winery laws starting in the late 1960s and early 1970s by various state legislatures. Although interest had been growing steadily in growing grapes and making wine, the obstacles standing in the way of those who wanted to open commercial wineries were formidable. License fees in many states were well over $1,000 annually, state taxes on wine were as high as $1.50 a gallon, and sales of wine by wineries were often restricted to licensed liquor stores, distributors, or wholesalers.

    In most states the laws governing...

  11. Chapter Six The Industry Develops in the 1970s
    (pp. 104-120)

    Environmental factors such as climate, diseases, and pests were the primary concern for those who wanted to grow grapes in those early years. Winemakers had to cope with manmade laws and regulations, and those interested in opening wineries often faced government restrictions that ranged from zoning ordinances to licensing. Finding ways in which existing laws could be changed and favorable legislation passed was sometimes more exasperating and difficult to achieve than growing grapes. Virtually everyone in those early days had to deal with both concerns.

    Today, with the passage of time, it is difficult to understand how insurmountable the obstacles...

  12. Chapter Seven Building the Infrastructure in the 1970s
    (pp. 121-137)

    If it were possible to identify one single factor that contributed most to the growth of the eastern wine industry, it would have to be the character of the people who were responsible for its start. Very little would have happened if it had not been for the individual motivation, perseverance, and the desire to succeed that were an important part of the makeup of those involved in growing grapes and making wine.

    Growing grapes and making wine is hard work, and it takes self-starters willing to prune vines in the dead of winter or spray vines at exact times...

  13. Chapter Eight Winery Events and Marketing in the 1970s
    (pp. 138-153)

    How to grow grapes and make wines that their customers would buy were the main concerns of those who opened wineries in the 1970s. Marketing was a secondary concern that was primarily addressed by including tasting rooms in the winery planning. In addition, events held at the wineries and by others interested in wine helped contribute to building the infrastructure needed for the future growth of the industry.

    Winery events in the 1970s included tastings of various kinds, wine competitions, and festivals. Competitions usually were conducted as closed events, but wineries then used the competition results to help promote their...

  14. Chapter Nine Growing Pains in the 1980s
    (pp. 154-170)

    Most of the controversies that arose in the eastern wine industry in the 1970s centered on laws and regulations that wineries in the various states needed to have passed or changed in order to be in business. A wider range of controversies developed in the 1980s. Four of them are discussed in this chapter: a confrontation between two states over a competing appellation; a major crisis involving growers and wineries; two rival festivals in a legal battle; and, in Ontario, a free trade fight against the United States and Europe. These were growing pains, certainly, but in each case had...

  15. Chapter Ten Winery Promotion in the 1980s
    (pp. 171-184)

    Cooperative marketing by wineries was on the increase in the 1980s. Among the important efforts was the establishment of wine trails where tourists were given instructions or other incentives to encourage them to visit more than one winery on a trip.

    One of the earliest appearances of wine trails in the East came about when thePennsylvania Grape Letter and Wine Newspublished a four-page insert called “Wine Trails of Pennsylvania” in its April 1979 issue.¹ There were twenty wineries and five extensions of premises in the state at the time, and the wineries submitted information including directions, addresses, and...

  16. Chapter Eleven Temperance, Neo-Prohibition, and the French Paradox
    (pp. 185-202)

    The eastern wine industry has had to live with the aftermath of Prohibition ever since Repeal in 1933. Although its impact has lessened, even decades later, there are still dry counties in the East and a plethora of restrictive laws on all levels governing the distribution, sale, and consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages. Anti-alcohol sentiment remains strong in many areas, and those who wish to oppose drinking find many reasons to do so ranging from morality and religious beliefs to putting an end to drunken driving.

    The term Neo-Prohibitionist is applied to those in or out of government...

  17. Chapter Twelve Consolidation in the 1990s
    (pp. 203-219)

    The repressive environment created by the Neo-Prohibitionists in the 1980s continued to be an imminent threat to the wine industry into the mid-1990s. Winery growth slowed as some wineries closed and others that were planning to open were put on hold. The number of wineries in the East had increased by 153 from 1980 to 1985, but that increase from 1985 to 1990 dwindled to 66 and further to only 20 from 1990 to 1995 (see table 6.1).

    The60 Minutesbroadcast that highlighted the “French Paradox” in November 1991 proved to be a turning point in the fight against...

  18. Chapter Thirteen The New Century
    (pp. 220-235)

    The top news story of the first decade of the twenty-first century would have to be the explosion in the number of wineries in eastern North America. In 2000, there were approximately 900 wineries in the eastern United States and Canada, and by the end of the decade, that number had tripled. During those ten years the number of eastern wineries in Canada increased by about 75 to 240 and in the United States by 1,735 to 2,538. At the end of 2011, according to the figures released by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the eastern...

  19. Appendix A The Origins of Eastern Wine Grapes
    (pp. 236-244)
  20. Appendix B How the French Hybrids Were Named
    (pp. 245-247)
  21. Appendix C Five Historic Grapevine Acquisitions during the 1930s and 1940s
    (pp. 248-252)
  22. Appendix D Eastern Wine Types
    (pp. 253-268)
  23. Appendix E Early Wine History, State by State
    (pp. 269-304)
  24. Appendix F The First American Wine Course
    (pp. 305-306)
  25. Appendix G American Viticultural Areas in the East
    (pp. 307-310)
  26. Notes
    (pp. 311-347)
  27. Bibliography
    (pp. 348-376)
  28. Index
    (pp. 377-392)