Sunday, November 7, 2021

The first vineyard in North America

In 1522, the first European grape vines in the Americas were planted in Mexico. Hernan Cortes ordered seeds of the Spanish variety Vitis vinifera to be brought to the New World and he signed a decree in 1524 stating that all land owners with Indian slaves should plant 1,000 Spanish grape plants per year for every 100 slaves.

In 1524, an Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, sailing the north Atlantic seacoast, encounter a region turned out to be Kitty Hawk, off the North Carolina mainland. He found in this region was an abundance of vines growing naturally, reminding him of his native Lombardy.

After the French were driven from the Florida coast, the Spaniards made a settlement and planted a vineyard in believed to be vinifera vines nearby Parris Island, South Carolina. In 1663, explorer William Hilton visited an Indian town on Parris Island, “St. Ellens.” According to him the town was surrounded by vineyards, cornfields, and orchards

In 1610, vineyards were planted by English settlers in the colony of Virginia. There were eight vignerons sent to Virginia in 1619 mostly Frenchmen from Languedoc. The results of the first new planting were reported as successful. In 1621, at least 10,000 vines were planted.

In New Netherland of the Dutch settlers, a vineyard was planted as early as 1642, but was destroyed by the severe winter temperatures. After the English took over the colony from the Dutch in 1669, the new governor granted a monopoly of grape growing on Long Island to Paul Richards, who also received the privilege of selling his wine tax-free.

In 1786 an adventurous Frenchman Pierre Legaux bought 206 acres of land at Spring Mill. In 1787, he began planting European vines and became one of the first commercial wineries in the United States.

1769 – Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra establishes California's first vineyard and winery near present day San Diego.

Swiss immigrant, John James Dufour establishes America's first commercial winery in 1799, aptly named "First Vineyard." The site is located in Jessamine County, on the banks of the Kentucky River in what is now Nicholasville.

Dufour developed his vineyard by clearing the large stones from the ground and using them to build a stone fence. Dufour also used the stones to construct the open-air winery.
The first vineyard in North America  

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