Tuesday, October 19, 2010

THE HISTORY OF WINE IN THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY


San Gabriel Valley vineyard

A fascinating story of winemaking in Los Angeles County - specifically the San Gabriel Valley - will be told by Charles Perry at the Los Angeles County Arboretum on Sunday October 24, 2010.  Perry is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times Food Section and the co-founder of the Culinary Historians of Southern California.  He'll tell this remarkable story from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m., and then host a wine tasting afterward.  The cost for this event is $25 for Arboretum members, $30 for non-members.

The press release for this event staes that if you've only heard California's wine history told by the mention of sacramental wines followed by an immediate leap to Napa and Sonoma, you may be surprised to find that Los Angeles County was the first place in the country where premium wine varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon were made.  In the latter part of the 19th century the wines of Los Angeles County were exported to the East Coast and Europe, and L.A. County was the nation's leading wine producer for about 50 years.

Perry's compelling story is full of colorful characters.  Hugo Reid received the grant to the land called Rancho Santa Anita and tended to the existing vines from the mission days.  He added even more vines and was one of California's wine pioneers.  After Reid's death, the land was taken over by Benjamin D. Wilson, and later Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin made wine on the property.  The Arboretum - and the Baldwin Winery building on the grounds of Santa Anita racetrack - are all that remain of the Rancho Santa Anita land grant.

Anyone with an interest in the history of winemaking in California should find this to be an illuminating afternoon.  For more information or to purchase tickets call 626.821.4623 or email jill.berry@arboretum.org.