Home > History of Wine > “…a Season more favourable to the Fermentation of Wine.” March 18, 1773

“…a Season more favourable to the Fermentation of Wine.” March 18, 1773


Having read Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr.’s February 1773 article in the Virginia Gazette (and undoubtedly taking notice of Colonel Bolling, Jr.’s memorial of 50 Pound Sterling per annum) Andrew Estave published a response in Marh 1773.  He continues his support and preference for native vines noting that their resistance to accidents and that their  juice “is infinitely richer, and more spirituous.”  He does concede that while the native vines might cultivate best in the lower-parts of the country, the foreign vines might cultivate best in the upper-parts, of which he has no knowledge.  In the end, he acknowledges that The Vineyard has produced little over the last four years and asks the public to suspend their judgement a bit longer.

From Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, March 18, 1773, Page 2

VINEYARD, near Williamsburg, March 10, 1773

Having read, in the Gazette of Mess. Purdie and Dixon for the 24th of last February, an Essay of Colonel Robert Bolling relative to the Establishment of Vineyards in this Country, I was tempted to take the Liberty of considering some of its Articles, without pretending to place myself of the same Parallel, or to engage in any Competition with its respectable Author.  My Intention is merely to communicate to the Publick the littler Experience, which, during four Years Residence in this Country, I have been able to acquire, particularly in Regard to the Cultivation of foreign Vines.

It is my humble Opinion, that the native Vines of the Country can alone be cultivated with Success; the foreign ones being exposed to too many and great Inconveniences.  Such are, in the first Place, the Injuries from Worms and Insects; secondly, the Mischief they suffer from the Rains, which generally fall about the Time of the Maturity of the Grapes, and give Occasion to their bursting, as well as to the Evaporation of their Spirit; thirdly, their ripening about two Months sooner than the native Grapes of the Country, at the very Time of the Year when the Heat is greatest, which cannot fail of precipitating the Fermentation in the foreign Grapes, and of rendering it excessive.

There is scarcely a Gentleman in the Country whose Experience of what happens to the foreign Grapes in his Garden will not convince him of the Justice of the preceding Observations.  If it was necessary, I might confirm them by the Experience of Colonel Baker of Smithfield, a very ingenious Gentleman, whose Curiosity has been particularly employed on this Subject.  He had collected in his Garden a Variety of foreign as well as of the native Vines of this Country, all of which appeared to succeed equally well until the Period of their ripening.  Then he found that the foreign Grapes were constantly spoiled by Accidents which I have already enumerated, while the Natives sustained no Injury, because probably their Skins are of a Nature capable of resisting the Insects, and the Rains; and because, too, they do not ripen until two Months after the foreign Grapes, at a Season more favourable to the Fermentation of Wine.

From Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, March 18, 1773, Page 3

Let it be remembered, however, that what I have hitherto said relates entirely to the lower Parts of the Country; the higher, being altogether unknown to me, may justify perhaps the Opinion of Colonel Bolling, and be more favourable to the Cultivation of Foreign Vines.

With Respect to Colonel Bolling’s Apprehension that the Vines of the Country do not yield a sufficient Produce, and that their Fruit is not rich enough, I can affirm, from Experience, that Vines, planted and cultivated, bear a Fruit one third at least larger than what is found on the spontaneous Growth of the Woods; and that the Juice of the former is infinitely richer, and more spirituous.  Nothing therefore is required but the Skill of the Cultivator in letting them acquire the proper Maturity, and in their Management afterwards, to obtain from them a Wine of the best Quality.

The occasion introduces me to speak two Words with Regard to myself.  The Vineyard which I planted has appeared, hitherto, to answer for little to the Expectations of People that many beginning to despair of its Success; but I beseech them to suspend for a While their Judgment, and to consider a little the unlucky Seasons we have had for the two last years, nothing being more contrary to fresh planted Vines than excessive Droughts: Yet I hope, notwithstanding, with Heaven’s Assistance, to fulfill my Obligations before the Expiration of the Time with which I have been indulged.  It is the well founded Hope of the Publick’s

Most obliged humble Servant,
A. ESTAVE.

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