Archive for September, 2013

The 1990 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Lou opened his bottle of 1990 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia earlier this year.  I meant to publish my tasting note for some time but could not find my picture of the bottle from that night so for this post I have used my sole bottle.   The wine itself seems shockingly young with good acidity which leaves the impression it is evolving at a glacial pace.  I have no experience with this wine so it is hard to predict its future.  There were some notes of maturity.  If these continue to develop it should give the wine additional complexity and elevate the experience.   If you are fortunate to have this vintage in your cellar, rest assured that there is no rush to drink it.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


1990 R. López de Heredia Vina Tondonia, Viña Gravonia, Rioja –
Imported by Constantine Wines.  This wine is 100% Viura which was aged in barrels for at least two years.  Alcohol 12%.  Tasted over several nights the color was a light golden yellow with a nose of fine wood and berries.  In the mouth the flavors were a little honied with old wood, tart yellow fruit, and delicate berries.  The flavors were more compact with some bottled age notes coming out but the wine itself was young.  The flavors were a little ripe at first with acidity on the sides of the tongue and back of the throat as the tangy finish developed.  ***/***(*) Now-2023.


Four From France

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Of the four wines below you may drink the 2012 Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin, La gerine while the 2009 Domaine La Casenove, La Garrigue ages.  The later was surprisingly well balanced and remained tight over two nights so definitely leave it alone in the cellar.  The 2009 Domaine du Traginer, Collioure is approachable at this point but I would cellar it to develop complexity.   I gather the 2011 Axel Prufer, Four du roi, Le temps de cerises is a “natural wine”.  The nose is certainly unique and stimulating to smell.  Otherwise it is a grapey wine to drink now.  It was not my preferred style.  The Domaine La Casenove was purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the rest at Chambers Street Wines.


2009 Domaine La Casenove, La Garrigue, Cotes Catalanes – $18
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 40% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 30% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose remained tight with whiffs of herbs and black fruit.  In the mouth were concentrated ripe fruit, a hint of woodbox, and a Bordeaux like nature.  With air there were focused ripe, black fruit, cool acidity before becoming dry and firm in the finish.  There was good clean, balance all around so this wine should develop quite well.  **(*) 2015-2025.


2009 Domaine du Traginer, Collioure – $19
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is a blend of 25% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah, 25% Grenache, and 25% Carignan.  Alcohol 13.5%,  The wine starts a little soft and encompassing then builds good blue fruit with texture and some tartness.  The tannins were enjoyable and evident in the finish, along with acidity.  This is a young but approachable example of affordable Collioure.  **(*) 2015-2022.


2012 Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin, La gerine, Ventoux – $13
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  Alcohol 13%.  The flavors were a little tart with red fruit and orange peel that became a little round.  The ripe citric acidity on the tongue mixed with the orange and red flavors.  The wine was on the lighter side but had serious, young fruit.  Despite the fruity  structure this is an early drinking wine.  ** Now-2014.


2011 Axel Prufer, Four du roi, Le temps de cerises – $23
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 30% Carignan, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon with was produced using carbonic maceration and no sulphur. Alcohol 12%.  The nose bore a mixture of old and vintage perfumes, evocative of a 1980s “country store.”  The wine was prickly at first then settled down, like a grapey natural wine with red fruit.  The flavors were acidity driven with plenty of mid-plate acidity and the tiniest Pilsner hint.  ** Now.


West Coast Wines

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Of some recently tasted wines from the West coast my favorite was the 2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate.  Being aromatic and flavorful it was a wine I just wanted to drink.   Next I would have to include the 2010 Windsor Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Clearly a wine from California, its approachable style will make it hard to leave in the cellar.  The Stolpman was purchased at Wishing Well Liquors, the Balboa in Seattle, the Montebruno and Matthew Rorick at Chambers Street Wines, and the rest at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Windsor Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley – $26
Alcohol 14.1%.  The light to medium strength nose was of blue and black berries and leather with a sense of California richness.  The fruit followed the nose but had more tart, red fruit.  The flavors were expansive with leather and salivating acidity on the front of the tongue.  It showed some underlying structure with a big personality but not heady.  It retained tart flavors on the tongue tip.  **(*) Now-2020.


2006 Ravenswood, Merlot, Sangiacomo, Sonoma Valley – $22
Alcohol 14.9%.  The nose bore maturing aromas with a very fine scent of woodbox.  The maturing red fruit had some weight, mixing nicely with woodbox flavors, salivating acidity, and some spice.  There was some black fruit with weight at first then the wine became drier with salivating acidity.  There were spicy tannins and black fruit in the finish which was a little rough.  It left wood box and a savory aspect in the aftertaste.  Will last but good now.  ** Now-2017.


2001 Liparita, Merlot, Napa Valley – $15
Alcohol 14.5%.  There was an evergreen nose with underlying mulberry aromas and some tea.  The mouth followed the nose with ripe, expansive, red hard cherry flavors.  Though mature it still developed with a ending with a slightly rough finish with drying tannins.  A second bottle was more advanced with black olive notes.  ** Now


2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate, Santa Ynez Valley –
This wine is a blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose was perfumed with berries and a little vanilla.  The mouth had a lively start with slightly tangy fresh and red red and black fruit.  The acidity came out in the finish.  There were soft, billowy flavors which made the wine approachable.  It left a tangy and tingly aftertaste on the lips and tongue tip.  Nice wine.  ***  Now-2016.


2010 Balboa, Syrah, Walla Walla Valley – $34
This wine is 100% Syrah which was hand harvested, fermented in open top stainless steel tanks then underwent malolactic fermentation and 16 months of aging in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 15%.  There was some fragrance to the modern nose.  In the mouth the flavors were firm and modern with a little tart and tang to the black fruit.  It had a powdery nature with acidity on the sides and back of the tongue.  It took on some weight with a subtle toast and smoke in the aftertaste.  With air it developed a good middle with more tangy black and red fruit.  Not my preferred style.  ** 2015-2023.


2010 Montebruno, Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills – $26
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines planted in 1998.  The fruit was fermented in open top vats with indigenous yeasts then aged for almost 12 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was lighter as was the nose of light green peppercorns.  In the mouth the flavors were acidity driven with lighter weight red fruit on the tongue tip. The cooler fruit was thinner in flavor but still mouth filling.  There was a pepper bit and a hint of cardboard.  * Now.


2012 Matthew Rorick Wines, Valdiguie – $19
This wine is 100% Napa Gamay Noir sourced from 20 year old vines and aged for four months in very old barrels.  Alcohol 12.2%.  Lighter red flavors mixed with graphite and acidity. * Now-2014.


Mourvedre Based Wines from Domaine de la Marfée

September 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Thierry Hasard moved from accounting to winemaking in 1997.  His estate, Domaine de la Marfée is composed of nine hectares of vines scattered across a dozen plots.  These plots are located within Saint Georges Orcs.  He has farmed biodynamically since 2003, ploughs a little in his vineyard so as to leave the earth alive, and uses just a little sulphur.  Both of the young wines featured in this post contain a significant proportion of Mourvedre and saw similar treatment.  The Mourvedre for the Della Francesca is sourced from two specific parcels which are clearly lovely.  While the 2010 Domaine de la Marfée, Les Gamines will come around, spend the extra money to get the 2010 Domaine de la Marfée, Della Francesca.  Particularly if you are a fan of Mourvedre.  These wines were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.


2010 Domaine de la Marfée, Les Gamines, Languedoc – $17
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.   This wine is a blend of 50% Mourvedre, 40% Syrah, and 10% Grenache from vines on soils of stony, calcareous clay and chert.   It was aged for two years in used barriques.  Alcohol 13.8%.  There was a little toast and dark fruit on the nose.  In the mouth the wine was young and firm with dry flavors of black fruit.  There was structure in the wine with flavors which were leaner but still maintained some robustness.  The wine was almost tart, a little puckering with fine, drying tannins in the finish.  **(*) 2015-2023.


2010 Domaine de la Marfée, Della Francesca, Languedoc – $24
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is 80% Mourvedre and 20% something else,  sourced from two small parcels on soils of stony, calcareous clay.   It was aged for two years in used barriques.  Alcohol 14.2%.  The flavors were pungent with macerated mixed berries, black fruit then stone notes with more berry flavors.  There was a fine, pebbly texture of black fruit and stones with a slight earthiness.  This was a nice young wine and remained approachable throughout the evening until it eventually tightened up.  *** Now-2023.


Three From Domaine Laguerre in Roussillon

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Eric Laguerre took over the family estate Domaine Laguerre in 1999.  He farms 40 hectares of vines on the foothills between the Pyrenees and the Corbieres.  The vines are located on soils of sandy granite at 500 meters.  Natural composts are used in the vineyards instead of chemicals.  Vineyard tasks such as ploughing and pruning are carried out according to the lunar cycle.  The fruit is hand harvested.

The 2011 Laguerre, le passage is a decent wine for drinking right now.  Far more interesting and at the same price, the 2011 Laguerre, Eos really expresses the sandy granite soils.  With its attractive floral fruit you may drink this wine now or over the short-term.  The 2009 Laguerre, Le Ciste is in an awkward, youthful stage.  The fruit is attractive right now but the wine really needs time to resolve and integrate its tannins.  My recommendation is to pick up the Eos and Le Ciste.  These wines were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.


2011 Domaine Laguerre, le passage, Cotes du Roussillon – $14
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is a blend of 80% Carignan, 10% Grenache, and 10% Syrah which was fermented in then aged in barrels for eight months.  Alcohol 13%.  The grapier nose mixed with some spices.  The flavors were grapier in the mouth with black and purple fruit, watering acidity, and a hint of sweet spice.  This was a touch lighter than the Eos and is best for current drinking.  ** Now-2014.


2011 Domaine Laguerre, Eos, Cotes du Roussillon – $14
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah which was fermented in tank then aged for 18 months in barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The unusual nose made way to similar flavors in the mouth.  There was a little fat to the rather floral flavors with fine gravelly stones and a structural firmness in the finish.  The aftertaste brought a little citrus and wood.  With extended air the ripe stone note continued along with pleasantly present acidity.  This wine grew on me.  **(*) 2014-2019.


2009 Domaine Laguerre, Le Ciste, Cotes du Roussillon – $16
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Carignan which is fermented in concrete tank then aged 12-15 months in casks and barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was very tight with a little heat.  The flavors became tighter with air leaving cool, dense, black fruit which was a touch spicy.  The drying tannins matched the baking spices and dry flavors.  There really was good fruit, with a touch of glycerine, which could almost envelope the structure but the tannic structure oscillated in nature, separating from the flavors  at times.  Leave it in the cellar.  **(*) 2016-2021.


Very Old Vines and Old Tinajas

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Just a quick, belated post for today.  The wines of Louis-Antoine Luyt continue to define a new style of Chilean wine for me, including the 2010 Luyt, Huasa de Pilen Alto featured below.  To this group I would add the 2012 De Martino, Viejas Tinajas which is minimally produced in rather old earthenware tinajas.  Whereas the Luyt was a little earthy and animale the De Martino was more clean and delicate with its red fruit.  Try them both! These wines were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.


2010 Louis-Antoine Luyt, Huasa de Pilen Alto, Maule – $23
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Pais sourced from 180 year old vines located on soils of clay and decomposed granite at 580 meters produced using carbonic maceration.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was earthy with a little pepper note.  The mouth follows the noe with tart red fruit that mixes with citrus.  The flavors were dry with acidity on the tongue and a woodsy note in the finish.  With air there was a hint of raciness, a little ethereal flavor, and brighter red fruit.  It was a little animale with grapey tannins and a hint of yeast.  *** Now-2014.


2012 De Martino, Cinsault, Viejas Tinajas, Secano Interior – $24
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is 100% Cinsault from old bush vines on granite soils fermented with indigenous yeasts in 100-year old earthen ware amphora.  No pumps are used to remove the wine from the tinajas.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of red strawberries.  In the mouth the red fruit showed some hard candy and a good, ripe core.  There was watering acidity, inky notes, and a generally cool aspect.  There were moderate and ripe tannins in the structure, some levity, and it eventually developed approachable notes of baking spices.  This was best after one hour of air.  *** Now-2015.Chile3

“Cultivated with so much success”: The Vines and Vineyards of Washington, D.C. 1799-1833

September 20, 2013 1 comment

Early residents of Washington, D.C. could purchase plants and trees from both local and distant nurseries.  For example, those who gave money to Mr. Leflet in 1799 to purchase fruit trees from his proposed nursery near Georgetown, could pick them up from the house of Francis Motter.[1]  As early as February 10, 1802,[2] Theo. Holt advertised as a seedsman and nurseryman with a “Nursery Garden” located near the Eastern Branch[3].  On January 28, 1803, he listed fruit trees, flower shrubs, rakes, imported roots, and other items for sale.  The Strawberry Hill Nursery near New York advertised locally in the Washington Federalist on March 11, 1803, as “containing the most extensive collection of European and American Fruits &c.”[4] Incredibly, they would deliver forest and flower shrubs without expense.  Both local and distant nurseries are of interest because they were a potential source of grapevines for the early gardens, vineries, and vineyards of Washington, D.C.  They also demonstrate the market for grapevines and the varieties which were in favor.  This post is concerned with the period just prior to when Congress held its first session in Washington, D.C. to formation of the Columbian Horticultural Society.

George Town and Federal City, or City of Washington. Atkins & Nightingale. 1801. No. 2002695146. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

George Town and Federal City, or City of Washington. Atkins & NIghtingale. 1801. No. 2002695146. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

John A. Saul described 19th century nurseries of Washington, D.C. in his April 9, 1906, address on Tree Culture, or a Sketch of Nurseries in the District of Columbia.[5]  He found only three nurseries “of any considerable extent” and several others with more limited business.  He considered the major nurserymen to be John Adlum, Joshua Peirce, and his own relative John Saul.  He made note of other nursery references he came across including Adam Linday’s advertisement for grape cuttings on March 20, 1830.  John Saul’s nursery was in business at a later date so he is not featured in this post.  Thomas Pinney focused in on John Adlum in his A History of Wine in America, From the Beginnings to Prohibition so I shall place John Adlum in context but not in much depth.[6]  What follows is a chronology of the newspaper advertisements in Washington, D.C. for the sale of grapevines followed by a chronology of vineyards.


In 1816 Mr. Smith published A Chorographical and Statistical Description of the District of Columbia.[7]  Mr. Smith describes the nursery of Mr. Main as located two miles from Georgetown “on a hill of steep ascent, elevated about a hundred feet above the level of the river.”  Mr. Main was a 60 year old Bachelor from Scotland who learned about gardening on the “banks of the Tweed.”  He rented a 60 acre plot of land for 20 years at 200 Guineas.  At the time of publication “[t]welve of these years have already elapsed.”  He had selected the east side of the hill for the cultivation of the black Hamburg and “white chassela” vines.  His cultivation succeeded for three years but on the fourth year there was an unusually warm November followed by a frost.  This “split the vinestalk one foot upwards from the surface of the ground, and thus destroyed all the hopes of the proprietor.”    Mr. Smith comments Mr. Main did not have enough money to procure additional vines, “except on a small scale, and merely for the purpose of furnishing plants for sale, for which he found there was little demand.”  He then turned his attention to “the indigenous thorn” of which “he sells a great number annually.”  Mr. Smith states that 50,000 year-old thorns were sold to a Virginia planter.

Thomas Main advertised his nursery near the Little Falls of the Potomac River as specializing in thorns for hedges on December 30, 1803.[8]  On September 29, 1810 he described his nursery as near Georgetown and appeared to continue a specialization in thorns[9].  By February 24, 1814, Thomas Main had passed away but the executor of his estate, William Bunyie, advertised the sale of seeds and vegetables at his store.[10]  At the nursery there were “thousand plants of the Pyracantha”, hedge thorns, and a variety of fruit trees amongst other plants.

Between Mr. Smith’s Chorographical and Thomas Main’s advertisements, we may date his vineyard.   According to Mr. Smith’s book published in 1816, the vineyard was located on a hill where there was a nursery of trees.  Twelve years had elapsed since Thomas Main rented the property for his nursery thus suggesting the first year of rental was 1804, at the latest.  However, in December 1803, Thomas Main was only advertising 40,000 “American white Thorns”, which he did not switch to until after the destruction of his vineyard.  Given that the vineyard was destroyed in a November, it would be unlikely that Thomas Main would be able to sell such a quantity of thorns one month later.  Thus the advertisement suggests he first cultivated vines in 1799 through 1802 when they were destroyed.  Thomas Main was certainly in the Georgetown area for he had a letter at the Post Office on April 1, 1800.[11]  While I have yet to uncover direct evidence of the chronology for his vineyard but the circumstantial evidence is suggestive.  I have searched for weather reports but have not yet found any for those specific years.

During the 1820s nurseries in other cities continued to advertise in the newspapers of Washington, D.C.  Benjamin Prince advertised the Old American Nursery at Flushing Landing near New York with grape vines for sale amongst other fruits as early as February, 4 1820.[12]  Bartram’s Botanic Garden and Nursery, located four miles from Philadelphia, ran an advertisement on March 6, 1828.  This nursery had close to 100 different vines “including the finest Wine and Tables Grapes, from France and Germany” of which most “will stand the climate of the middle states and bear well.”  As for quality it was noted, “They are equal to any that can be procured from the Long Island Nursery, and are one-third cheaper.”  Local orders were taken at the book store of Bartow and Brannan at Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street.[13]  Alphonse Loubat established his vineyard at New Utrecht, in what is now the Brooklyn water front, during the 1820s.  On October 9, 1828 he place one of many advertisements listing some 72,000 grapevine roots grown on his 35 acre vineyard.[14]  He even offered subscriptions for importing grapevine roots from France at the Washington, D.C. office of Thomas W. Pairo.    On November 1, 1832 Sinclair & Moore of the Pratt Street wharf in Baltimore listed several one and two year old “Rooted Grape Plants”.[15]  Those suited for the local climate were Catawba, Isabella, Constantia, Bland, Herbemonts Madeira, White Sweet Water, Golden Chasselas, and “Lenoir or Red Wine Grape.”

There were local nurseries within Washington, D.C. such as that of James Thompson at Maryland Avenue between the Capitol and Potomac Bridge.[16]  Unfortunately this was seized on March 11, 1824 due to four writs of fieri facias.  More successful were the nurseries of Joshua Peirce, John Adlum, and Adam Lindsay.  Together the provided a source of grapevines between 1821 and 1831.

The next local nursery to advertise the sale of grapevines is that of Joshua Peirce.  He advertised on December 28, 1821 that he had taken over the nursery run by his father.[17]  He had “a great variety of choice and well selected fruit trees”, ornamental trees, shrubs, fruit, and grapevines.  He was also willing to exchange for cuttings, seeds, and roots of anything not in his collection.  Items could be purchased at David Shoemaker, Jr. near the General Post office or at J. Fay’s seed store on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Joshua’s father, Isaac Peirce appears to have been located in Georgetown as early as April 8, 1802, for he had a letter at the Post Office.[18]  On December 14, 1814 he advertised the sale of 100 different types of apple trees composed of 20,000 individual trees at his nursery on Rock Creek three miles from Georgetown.  Isaac Peirce never advertised the sale of grape vines so it is possible they were of minor interest.  Joshua Peirce received the land by deed from his father on October 10, 1823.  According to John Saul the property was located “at the mouth of Piney Branch, and running north.  It contained eighty-two acres, two roods, and twenty-eight perches.”  The house was located at Klingle Road and Beach Driveway.  There was a second property of 54 acres was centered on R and S Streets and 14th and 15th Streets.  This property acted as an extension of the prime Linnaean Hills nursery.

Linnean Hill, Historic American Building Survey, Albert S. Burns. 1934-1935. No. HABS DC,WASH,123--1.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Linnean Hill, Historic American Building Survey, Albert S. Burns. 1934-1935. No. HABS DC,WASH,123–1.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

On February 18, 1824 Joshua Peirce advertised his nursery as “on Rock Creek, near Washington” with the signature “JOSHUA PEIRCE, Linnaean Hill.”[19]  Applications were now taken by Thomas Levering near the General Post Office and Edward M. Linthicum at Bridge and High Street in Georgetown.  His advertisement of December 28, 1828 lists that he has “on hand about 1000 vines of the native Grapes, such as are cultivated with so much success in the neighbouring vineyard for wine”[20]  By February 27, 1832 his collection grew to 12-15,000 grape cuttings of Catawba, Isabella, Bland, and Constantia, native varieties.[21]  These had been “cultivated with so much success in the neighboring vineyards.”  Apparently at least one more vineyard was being cultivated since his previous advertisement.  One year later on February 27, 1733 Joshua Peirce grapevine inventory was smaller for he only advertised “A few thousand cuttings of the Catawba, Isabella, and Constantine grapes”.  The Bland and native varieties disappeared from his list.

Home of John Adlum, Facing Southwest. Saul, John. Records of Columbia Historical Society, Vol 10. Google.

Home of John Adlum, Facing Southwest. Saul, John. Records of Columbia Historical Society, Vol 10. Google.

Thomas Pinney supports the view that John Adlum was the “Father of American Viticulture.”  John Adlum purchased three properties consisting of 45 acres from John Heugh on December 4, 1816, one acre and 36 perches from Joseph Nourse on June 11, 1819, and two tracts of 93 acres and one quarter acre from James Dunlop on February 4, 1820.  John Saul locates Adlum’s house at the southeast corner of his property which is now Connecticut Avenue and Peirce Mill Road.  The Peirce Mill Road being named after the road which went between Isaac Peirce’s mill and Georgetown. John Adlum first describes his vineyard on November 8, 1822 in a letter dated September 17, 1822.[22]  He describes his 0.4 acre “small Vineyard” planted with cuttings in 1820.  He had a total of one acre of bearing vines with four more acres that should come into production in 1823.  His plans included planting five more acres during the Spring of 1823 for a total vineyard size of 10 acres.

For the spring of 1823 he intended to offer “several thousand cuttings of vines for sale, of various kinds, foreign and domestic.”  Indeed  a little over one year after Joshua Peirce first advertised the sale of grape vines John Adlum advertised several thousand cuttings for sale at his Vineyard on February 22, 1823.[23]  Of the varieties offered, he implies he made wine from the Tokay, Constantia, Bland Madeira, Schuylkill, Muscadell, and Munier or Miller Burgundy.  Of those he had not made wine include the Worthington, Columbia, Red juice, Elkton grape, very large, Carolina Muscadine, Real Madeira, Frontinac, Sweet Water, and Royal Muscadine.  John Adlum continued to advertise his grape cuttings and wine, later known as “white or red Adlumnian” wine until July 18, 1832.[24]

Vine Hill is first advertised for rent by Thomas W. Pairo on April 7, 1828.  It contained a vineyard of one thousand grapevines comprised of 25-30 different types of European table and wine grapes.  Three hundred of the vines were in the bearing state.  By March 18, 1830, the Vine Hill vineyard had grown to 5-6,000 grape vines. That is a significant increase in only two years for a property up for rent.  On March 3, 1831, Thomas W. Pairo advertised his own 3,000 young grapevines with roots one to three years of age.  These were a mixture of foreign and domestic vines.  This advertisement clears up the earlier confusion I pointed out in my post “Near the President’s House”: The Advertisements of William Cox, Wine Merchant, Washington, DC 1826-1827.  In that post I suspected that Thomas W. Pairo’s vineyard was actually Vine Hill and now I believe they were separate.

Commandant's house at the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks, Washington, D.C. 1859-1864. NO. U.S. GEOG FILE - Washington, D.C.--United States Government Buildings--Marine Barracks.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Commandant’s house at the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks, Washington, D.C. 1859-1864. NO. U.S. GEOG FILE – Washington, D.C.–United States Government Buildings–Marine Barracks. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Adam Lindsay first advertised the “A LARGE quantity of Cuttings of the finest Grapes” which were for sale at his vineyard near the Navy Hospital three-quarters of a mile East of the Capitol.[25]  These advertisements ran until March 30, 1830.  The following year on March 3, 1831 Adam Lindsay advertises his “Cottage Vineyard” as having for sale “Cuttings of the best varieties of Grape, procured from France, Spain, Italy, and the shores of the Mediterranean” as well as native grapes.[26]  A few years later Adam Lindsay places an advertisement stating his vineyard “is between Pennsylvania Avenue and East Capitol street, not far from the Marine Hospital.”[27]  This location is verified by an early advertisement on July 21, 1809, when he placed his dwelling house and store located on East Capitol Street up for rent.[28]  Adam Linday’s description of the Navy Hospital and Marine Hospital imply that he had, at some point, vineyards at two different locations.  The hospital at the Navy Yard was created sometime prior to 1802 and the hospital at the Marine Barracks was created prior to 1835.[29]


The local sale of grapevines suggests a demand by local vineyards.  In my post Bomford, Lindsay, and Smith: The Early Vineyards of Washington ,D.C. I detail three different vineyards.  Colonel Bomford first planted his vineyard between 1816 and 1824 and it was still in existence on March 18, 1830 when it was known as Vine Hill.  Adam Linday’s first vineyard was initially mentioned in 1830 so it might have been planted around 1827. Samuel Harrison Smith had a vineyard at his Sidney estate which would have been planted around 1826 and still in existence in 1830.

There were other earlier vineyards as well.  On April 23, 1810, Thomas W. Pairo advertised the country seat of the late Mr. Thomas Hewitt which contained about 200 European Grape Vines within the five acre lot.[30]  The seat was located on a “Handsome HILL east of Mr. Barlow’s within a mile from the President’s House.”  On September 17, 1810, another advertisement was placed refining the location as “the hill between Mr. J. Barlow’s and Mr. M. Nourse’s.”  The lot was now 8 acres with a second 25 acre lot available.[31]  It contained “a small Vineyard of excellent European Grape Vines.”  Mr. Nourse’s house is now the administration building for Sidwell Friends School on Wisconsin Avenue.

On August 15, 1815, a two story brick house of unspecified location was advertised for sale or rent.[32]  It contained an “excellent garden” with grape vines.  On February 25, 1825, Thomas W. Pairo and William Prout announced they were going into a partnership.  As a result Thomas W. Pairo advertised his three-story brick house at F Street and 12th Street for rent.[33]  Attached to the house was a garden with “upwards of 200 of the best European Grape Vines, all in a bearing state.”  On April 5, 1826, Clement Fox advertised a 100 acre plantation two miles from Georgetown on the Turnpike Road at the heights above the town.[34]  It contained “a Vineyard of several acres.”

On March 24, 1829, the sale of a 50 acre farm, three miles due north of the Capitol was advertised.[35]  It contained an orchard with 300 apple and peach trees and a “flourishing Vineyard of 800 Vines.”  Inquires could be made to Colonel William Doughly at the Navy Yard or James H. Doughly at the General Post Office.  Give the description I suspect this was the Pleasant Hill Vineyard.  On July 21, 1830, Thomas Mustin began a series of advertisements for the Pleasant Hill Vineyard.[36]  This estate was located 3.5 miles north of the Capitol in the “immediate neighborhood of Rock Creek Church.”  It contained an apple and peach orchard and “a thriving young vineyard, of five or six acres, now in the bearing state.”  Apparently it remained unrented for on August 30, 1831, Thomas Mustin advertised the sale of his grapes as a “fine crop of this delicious fruit”.[37]  The varietals included White Sweet water, Catawba, Isabella, Constantia, and Schuylkill Muscadell which were “now turning, and will be fully ripe in eight or ten days.” He offered a reduced price if taken directly from the vineyard.

View of Georgetown D.C. E. Sachse & Co. 1855. No. PGA - Sachse (E.) & Company--View of Georgetown D.C. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

View of Georgetown D.C. E. Sachse & Co. 1855. No. PGA – Sachse (E.) & Company–View of Georgetown D.C. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The estate of Charle Varle, formerly owned by Mrs. Sarah Love, was advertised for sale on March 3, 1830.[38]  It was located 1.25 miles from the western edge of Georgetown near the turnpike leading to Fredericktown.  This is presumably the present Maryland Route 355.  Within the 99 acre estate was a vineyard which had “produced excellent grapes for several years.”  If it had born fruit for three years, the first crop would have occurred in 1827 suggesting it was planted around 1824.

[1] Date: Friday, November 15, 1799                   Paper: Centinel of Liberty (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: IV   Issue: 51   Page: 2
[2] Date: Wednesday, February 10, 1802           Paper: Washington Federalist (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: II   Issue: 241   Page: 3
[3] Date: Friday, January 28, 1803        Paper: Washington Federalist (Georgetown, DC)   Issue: 424   Page: 3
[4] Date: Friday, March 11, 1803          Paper: Washington Federalist (Georgetown, DC)   Issue: 442   Page: 2
[5] Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, Volume 10. 1907. URL:
[6] Pinney, Thomas. A History of Wine in American, From the Beginnings to Prohibition. 1989. URL:
[7] Smith. A Chorographical and Statistical Description of the District of Columbia. 1816. URL:
[8] Date: Friday, December 30, 1803                   Paper: Washington Federalist (Georgetown, DC)   Issue: 567   Page: 1
[9] Date: Saturday, September 29, 1810             Paper: Independent American (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: II   Issue: 183   Page: 1
[10] Date: Saturday, September 29, 1810            Paper: Independent American (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: II   Issue: 183   Page: 1
[11] Date: Friday, May 9, 1800               Paper: Centinel of Liberty (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: V   Issue: 36   Page: 4
[12] Friday, February 4, 1820                 Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: 8   Issue: 2204   Page: 4
[13] Date: Thursday, March 6, 1828      Paper: United States Telegraph (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: III   Issue: 29   Page: 3
[14] Date: Thursday, October 9, 1828                   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XVI   Issue: 4896   Page: 1
[15] Date: Thursday, November 1, 1832               Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XX   Issue: 6157   Page: 2
[16] Date: Thursday, March 11, 1824   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XII   Issue: 8478   Page: 1
[17] Date: Friday, December 28, 1821                  Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: IX   Issue: 2795   Page: 3CE
[18] Date: Thursday, April 8, 1802         Paper: Washington Federalist (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: II   Issue: 289   Page: 3
[19] Date: Wednesday, February 18, 1824          Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XII   Issue: 8459
[20] Date: Saturday, December 20, 1828             Paper: United States Telegraph (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: III   Issue: 148   Page: 1
[21] Date: Monday, February 27, 1832                 Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XX   Issue: 5945   Page: 1
[22] Date: Friday, November 8, 1822   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: X   Issue: 3064   Page: 2
[23] Date: Saturday, February 22, 1823                Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XI   Issue: 8153   Page: 1
[24] Date: Wednesday, July 18, 1832   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XX   Issue: 6066   Page: 1
[25] Date: Tuesday, March 16, 1830     Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XVIII   Issue: 5341   Page: 3
[26] Date: Thursday, March 3, 1831      Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XIX   Issue: 5639   Page: 1
[27] Date: Tuesday, July 30, 1833          Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXI   Issue: 6387   Page: 3
[28] Date: Friday, July 21, 1809              Paper: National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 4
[29] Farwholt, A. Historical Notes and Roster of Senior and Commanding Medical Officers at U.S. Naval Hospitals at Washington, D.C. 1935. URL:
[30] Date: Monday, April 23, 1810        Paper: National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 4
[31] Date: Monday, September 17, 1810             Paper: National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 4
[32] Date: Thursday, August 31, 1815                   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: III   Issue: 826   Page: 4
[33] Date: Saturday, February 5, 1825                  Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XIII   Issue: 3759   Page: 4
[34] Date: Wednesday, April 5, 1826   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XIV   Issue: 4119   Page: 3
[35] Date: Tuesday, March 24, 1829     Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XVII   Issue: 5037   Page: 1
[36] Date: Wednesday, July 21, 1830   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XVIII   Issue: 5448   Page: 3
[37] Date: Tuesday, August 30, 1831     Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XIX   Issue: 5792   Page: 4
[38] Date: Monday, May 3, 1830            Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XVIII   Issue: 5381   Page: 1

Spanish Selections

September 17, 2013 2 comments

You should buy the 2012 Celler Jordi Llorens, Blankeforti.  It is certainly different and is a bit prickly from carbon dioxide, perhaps due to low sulphur, so you could give it a good shake as it warms if that bothers you.  Williams Corner Wines continue to deliver interesting wines.  Note, Jenn preferred the 2011 Perez, Guimaro over this wine.  The 2010 Navaherreros, Garnacha de Bernabeleva is the most powerful, young wine of those featured in this post.  It has good flavor so try it now if you are prepared but it is best to cellar it a few years.  A better idea might be to drink the young 2005 LAN, Gran Reserva.  I must admit I like drinking the 2009 Torres, Gran Coronas, Reserva.  One bottle was perfect after an hour of air, a second was less interesting.  I would be curious to see how the 2009 Alonso del Yerro develops. It has the components for aging but I must admit I was a little distracted by the heat.  Most of these wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Navaherreros and Perez were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.


2012 Celler Jordi Llorens, Blankeforti, Conca de Barbera – $23
Imported by Williams Corner Wines.  This wine is a blend of Garnatxa Negra and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 15%.  The aromatic nose steps out of the glass, spritely aromas with a citrus backing.  The mouth is a little sparkly at first with flavors of ripe citrus, red fruit, and orange peel.  This different wine was compelling, eventually leaving lipstick notes and ripe strawberry flavors on the lips. The wine remains nervous on the tongue tip with a balsamic note.  It is not gritty.  *** Now-2015.


2006 Bodegas Olarra, Anares, Reserva, Rioja – $15
Imported by Classic Wines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was tight and a little textured.  In the mouth were bright black and red fruit which was both firm and young.  The acidity was almost puckering then became salivating in the finish.  The tannins were present.  With air the wine became firmer, clean, and modern.  ** 2015-2020.


2005 LAN, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $22
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a fine wood scent mixing with the black fruit aromas.  In the mouth there was already good complexity with focused ripe, black fruit and an ethereal flavor which continued into the aftertaste.  This was a tasty wine, still early in development, and should age well.  The structure was very fine with a concentrated ripeness.  *** Now-2023.


2009 Torres, Gran Coronas, Reserva, Penedes – $18
Imported by Dreyfus Ashby & Co.  This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a dark, inviting nature to the red and black fruit.  It developed with an hour of air.  A wood note mixed nicely with the unobtrusive structure and integrated acidity.  It is probably best to wait one year.  ** Now-2018.


2009 Alonso del Yerro, Ribera del Duero – $22
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo.  Alcohol 14.7%.  The light nose revealed complex bitters-like aromas.  There were similar flavors in the mouth with dry and firm black fruit.  The wine was very drying with spicy tannins.  It eventually took on some initial weight, a slightly sweet ripeness, along with purple/black fruit mixed with violets.  There were very focused flavors and minerals.  There were good upfront flavors, a racy and minerally aspect, but the wine builds up to show a spirity nature.  **(*) 2016-2025.


2011 Bodegas Mas Alta, La Vilella Alta, Black Slate, Priorat – $20
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was light and low-lying.  In the mouth were intense flavors of spicy blackberry supported by structure and acidity.  There was spicy cinnamon notes in the finish with Jenn finding “chocolate coffee.”  This was a big wine, not firm nor tight, but framed with a dry finish, salivating acidity, and a roughness towards the end.  ** Now-2015.


2010 Navaherreros, Garnacha de Bernabeleva, Vinos de Madrid – $22
Imported by The Rare Wine Company.  This wine is 100% Grenache fermented in a mixed if wood, stainless steel, and concrete.  Alcohol 15.5%.  This remained a young wine despite extensive air.  The flavors revolved around a focused core of fruit with the structure rising with air, leaving a dose of fine, drying tannins.  It took on cherry flavors in the middle.  *** Now-2025.


2011 Pedro M. Rodriguez Perez, Guimaro, Ribeira Sacra – $18
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Vinos & Gourmet. This wine is 100% Mencia from vines averaging 40 years of age.  It is unoaked. Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed floral berries and remained a bit subtle but good.  This was an acidity driven wine with tart black and red fruit that took on a little weight.  With air the tart black fruit mixed with a little ripe and drying tannins.  There was some salivating acidity as the flavors firmed up in the finish.  ** Now-2015.


A Case of Italian Invasion

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment

There is only so much time in a day, so in order to research early 19th century vineyards in Washington, D.C., I must occasionally resort to a post of tasting notes. Over the weekend  I have found some really interesting information which I hope to relay within a week.  Of the ten wines listed below the 2012 Lamoresca, Nerocapitano was my favorite.  This was an awesome wine that I would love to see for sale in Washington, D.C.    I continued to enjoy the wines of Matteo Correggia in the form of 2009 Matteo Correggia, Roero.  This could stand a little more bottle age.  Also do not miss out on the well-priced 2007 Podere il Palazzino, Argenina, Chianti Classico.  A wine imported by Williams Corner Wine is typically interesting and so was the 2009 Bocchino, Blincin, Barbera d’Asti Superiore.  I often pick up bottles solely based on their name.  On a side note the 2011 Occhipinti, Alea Viva was a complete wreck when we first opened it.  Jenn refused to drink it at first and I quickly agreed.  I forgot about it for a few days until I found it in the Eurocave.  It was completely different and so much better.  Strange.  The Occhipinti and Lamoresca were purchased at Chambers Street Wines.  All of the others were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Occhipinti, Alea Viva, Lazio Rosso – $21
Imported by Jan D’Amore Wines Ltd.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light cherry with a hint of garnet.  The nose was floral with berries and ripe, rich white floral aromas.  The first night there were light flavors of orange-peel and fruit, which were a bit firm with acidity that put the black fruit on edge.  Actually, quite rough and not attractive.  On the third night the wine was much better with rounding, cherry flavors and enlivening acidity which hit the back of the throat in the aftertaste.  There were good flavors, intensity, and cinnamon like spices in the finish.  Should age beyond one year.  ** 2014-2018?.


2012 Lamoresca, Nerocapitano, Frappato, Sicilia – $28
Imported by SelecitoNaturel.  This wine is 100% Frappato which was fermented with indigenous yeasts in open barrels then aged in old wooden barrels and cement.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There were lovely, ripe plum and white peach aromas on the nose.  Rather Sicilian.  The mouth follows the nose with a very different set of flavors, a hint of glycerin, and fruit which was seamlessly integrated with the acidity.  There was a little liveliness on the tongue tip and were sweet, ripe tannins on the fums in the finish.  Really nice.  *** Now-2015.


2010 Planeta, Dorilli, Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico – $23
Imported by Palm Bay International.  This wine is a blend of 70% Nero d’Avola and 30% Frappato.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose bore small red berries with a certain blackness.  In the mouth this wine was serious with focus.  It was light and round at first with almost orange acidity and gentle, orange peel flavors.  There was some texture in the finish.  It had a little black tang on the sides of the tongue then acidity which picked up a little in the finish.  It was expansive then drying and minerally.  On the second night there was bacon smoke in the finish and a little red candy.  Very approachable but needs a year or so.   **(*) 2014-2019.


2005 Cantina Sociale Cooperative, Copertino, Riserva, Puglia – $14
Imported by Banville and Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 95% Negoamaro and 5% Malvasia.  Alcohol 13%.  Gentle, mature with some wood box notes, very approachable, and overall balance.  A pleasant wine to drink now.  ** Now.


2010 Frecciarossa, Uva Rara, Provincia Di Pavia – $14
Imported by J.W. Sieg & Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a light but decnet nose with some fine scent.  In the mouth red fruit and red grapefruit mixed with lively acidity.  The firm but good fruit carried on with drying, grapey tannins.  ** Now-2015.


2011 Tenute Chiaccio Forte, Vigne del Passero, Morellino di Scansano – $
Imported by Cantiniere Imports & Distributing.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was of black red fruit and green herbs.  There was a touch of acidity driven black fruit in the mouth followed by a touch of riper, black and red fruit.  It became drier with herbs in the finish, some dry tannins in the structure, and more dried herbs in the aftertaste.  ** Now-2015.


2011 Antica Masseria del Sigillo, Antico Sigillo, Primitivo di Manduria – $15
Imported by Enotec Imports.  Alcohol 15%.  There were ripe flavors of rasins, red and black fruit that made for a almost dried, roundish start.  There were very fine, grainy flavors and a ripe grainy texture which builds with red fruit acidity.  There were powdery tannins in the finish.  Drink while young but should last a few years.  ** Now-2016.


2007 Podere il Palazzino, Argenina, Chianti Classico – $17
Imported by de Grazia Imports LLC.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose had underlying ripe, red fruit.  The wine was more complex in the mouth with red fruit, a little wood note, some bitters, and hints of ripeness at the beginning.  The wine was mouthfilling before taking on drier flavors and texture.  There was some spiced mulberry and dry, woodsy tannins.  *** Now-2020.


2009 Bocchino, Blincin, Barbera d’Asti Superiore – $16
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was of red fruit, strawberry, which was made interesting by some herbs and earth.  The wine was more forward in the mouth with ripe, black and red fruit, a little wood box, and good tartness.  The flavors became redder with air, remained fruit driven, and had a minerally structure.  It was a little spicy and balanced out well with air.  *** Now-2016.


2009 Matteo Correggia, Roero – $18
Imported by The Country Vintner.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light to medium ruby center with a garnet, exterior ring.  The light nose had red fruit with some orange peel.  In the mouth were light flavors that immediately gained weight, expanding in the mouth with wood box and some herbs.  The acidity was present on the back of the throat.  Black minerals came out and the drying tannins left texture on the gums and inside of the lips.  **(*) 2014-2017.


The Cultivation of the Grapevine in Washington, D.C. 1834-1845

September 13, 2013 Leave a comment

At the meeting of the Columbian Horticultural Society held on August 3, 1842, Mr. Watterston gave a long address.[1]  In describing the origins of the society, the idea had “been suggested by a venerable citizen, who had devoted several years of his life to the cultivation of the native and foreign grape, with no little success, and that it had been early embraced and carried into effect by a number of public spirited men.” The Columbian Horticultural Society was organized on August 21, 1833.[2]  Amongst the names of the originating officers who cultivated the vine are society president Colonel Nathan Towson and “Councillors” Adam Lindsay, William Winston Seaton, Colonel George Bomford, and Joshua Peirce.

West front of the United States Capitol with cows in the foreground. Smith, John Rubers. 1831. No. DRWG/US - Smith (J.R.), no. 34.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

West front of the United States Capitol with cows in the foreground. Smith, John Rubers. 1831. No. DRWG/US – Smith (J.R.), no. 34.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In 1822, the names of George Bomford and Nathan Towson appear in the Distribution of the Army as published in A National Calendar.[3]  Lieutenant Colonel George Bomford is listed under Ordnance of the First Regiment of Artillery.  Colonel Nathan Towson, Maryland was under the Second Regiment of Artillery.  Ten years later under the War Department appears Brevet Colonel George Bomford, Chief of Ordnance and Nathan Towson, Paymaster General.[4]  Amongst the members of the Washington National Monument Society were William Winston Seaton, Colonel George Bomford, George Watterston, and Nathan Towson.[5]  Samuel Harrison Smith was co-proprietor of the National Intelligencer, later known as Daily National Intelligencer, along with William Winston Seaton who later became Mayor of Washington in 1840.  In the 1820s he was also a member of the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences.  Charted by Congress in 1818 the society succeeded in the creation of the United States Botanic Garden.[6]  The members of this society included Samuel Harrison Smith, Colonel George Bomford, and Colonel Nathan Towson.   George Shoemaker was the president of The Farmers and Mechanic’s Bank in 1862.[7]  Adam Lindsay not only built the reservoir near the Eastern Branch but also the Eastern Branch Bridge in 1819-1820.[8]  Joshua Peirce ran the Linnean Hill nursery on 83 acres of land in Cleveland Park.  In his 1824 Catalogue of Fruit and Ornamental Trees and Plants…at Linnaean Hill there are listed 24 different grape varieties.[9]

Map of the city of Washington. De Krafft, F. C. 1846. No. G3850 1846 .D4. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Map of the city of Washington. De Krafft, F. C. 1846. No. G3850 1846 .D4. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The early cultivators of the grapevine in Washington, D.C. were bound not only for their appreciation of the grapevine.  They were bound by military service, membership in societies, and prominence in Washington, D.C.  The reports on the Columbian Horticultural Society give a strong sense of which varietals were cultivated from the mid-1830s through the early 1840s.  It is no doubt that William Winston Seaton’s participation in the society and co-proprietorship of the National Intelligencer resulted in the detailed reports which were published in his newspaper.  These reports were disseminated by many horticultural journals of which I have relied on. It is from a selection of these reports that this post focuses on.  I do not mean to imply that it was only prominent families who cultivated the grapevine.

The members of the Columbian Horticultural Society who cultivated the grapevine also exhibited other fruits, vegetables, and plants.  The numbers of vines cultivated is not specified so the extent that their gardens contained “vineries” or vineyards cannot yet be ascertained.  Whether they produced wine is also unstated but some idea may be derived from the varietals exhibited.  In 1826, John Adlum classified grapes as either “table grapes” or “wine grapes.”[10]  Table grapes included Malmsy, White Sweet Water, Chasselas, Munier or Miller Burgundy, and Isabella.  Wine grapes included Catawba, Bland Madeira, Schuylkill Muscadel, Constantia or Cape of Good Hope, Worthington, and Lufborough.  In 1857, Joshua Peirce classified his grapevines as “those that are native” and “those good for the table.”[11]  The Catawba and Isabella were classified as native, table grapes whereas the Northern Muscadine, Concord, and Diana.  The Catawba and Isabella varietals appear most frequently followed by Malaga and Chasselas.  Thus it appears a combination of wine and table grapevines were cultivated.

The first Annual Exhibition of the Columbian Horticultural Society was held at City Hall on June 5-6, 1834.  Though there was no mention of grapevines some of the exhibitors included Mrs. Bomford, Joshua Peirce, Mrs. Colonel Towson, and Mrs. Seaton.  Beginning with the June 1835 meetings of the Columbian Horticultural Society no grapevines were presented until October 3, 1835.[12]  On this date Adam Lindsay exhibited Catawba, Roman plum, Mississippi, and white Chasselas grapes.  Joshua Peirce exhibited Catawba grapes.  At the November 7, 1835 Fall Exhibition the society noted that the “season had, indeed, been very favorable.”  Though no grapes were specifically mentioned there “was also a considerable collection of fruit, chief from the orchards of Mr. Barnard and Mr. Smith.”  It is unclear whether this is a reference to Samuel Harrison Smith’s orchard at Sidney.

View of Washington, D.C., looking northwest from southeast of the U.S. Capitol. Kollner, Augustus. 1846-55. No. DRWG/US - Unattributed, no. 56. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

View of Washington, D.C., looking northwest from southeast of the U.S. Capitol. Kollner, Augustus. 1846-55. No. DRWG/US – Unattributed, no. 56. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

As reported in my previous post The First Autumnal Exhibition of the Columbian Horticultural Society held on September 21-22, 1837.[13] In the Report of the Committee on Fruits the following people submitted grape vine samples: “The lady of the President of the Society” [wife of Colonel Nathan Towson] presented Catawba and Isabella grapes, Mrs. Seaton presented a dishes of Isabella and Catawba grapes, Mr. George Shoemaker had “a noble display of Catawba grapes, Judge Morrell had “very fine black Malaga grapes, from a vine raised by himself from seed”, Georgetown College had a “handsome bunches of grapes”, and Mr. Kurtz, Jr. presented “a neat frame containing bunches of Catawba grapes tastefully arranged”. Adam Lindsay presented a branch from a grape vine. It “contained such abundance of the finest grapes as would have puzzled Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, the son of Nun, to have borne off from the land of promise without detection.”

At the August 17th, 1839 meeting George Shoemaker of Georgetown showed “beautiful specimens of Sweetwater and Catawba grapes.”[14]  Mr. Otterback showed “fine bunches” of Chasselas and Burgundy grapes, along with “two bunches of well ripened foreign grapes, not named.”

At the October 30, 1840 meeting of the society it was not that “[t] season was somewhat too far advanced for a great display of fruits.”[15]  The fruits consisted primarily of apples and grapes.  Both Catawba and Isabella grapes were exhibited by George Shoemaker, Adam Lindsay, Mrs. W.A. Bradley, Mrs. Towson, and Mrs. Seaton.  They were found to me “mature and perfect, and made a fine display.”  The report continued that the “grapes were more numerous, and decidedly superior to any heretofore exhibited, and looked exceedingly tempting.”  At the Fall Exhibition held at City Hall from 2-7pm on September 14, 1840 it was noted that “the season [was] not the most propitious.”  From the “vineries of” Mrs. Towson, George Shoemaker, and Thomas Blagden were exhibited “a variety of native and foreign grapes – the Catawba, Isabella, and Malaga.”

Capitol at Washington D.C.-- West view. Kollner, Augustus. 1839. No. DRWG/US - Kollner, no. 14. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Capitol at Washington D.C.– West view. Kollner, Augustus. 1839. No. DRWG/US – Kollner, no. 14. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

By 1845 the Columbian Horticultural Society had discontinued its exhibitions.[16]  A group still gathered to exhibit fruit which was displayed at the store of  John F. Callan.  These specimens were left between August and September, 1845.  John Pearce submitted Chasselas de l’Eau which weight one pound per bunch and Mrs. Seaton submitted six ounces each of Catawba and Isabella.  J. F. Caldwell submitted what appears to be his own varietal the “Caldwell’s Seedling, a very meritorious grape.”  John Pearce won the first prize or “Premium” followed by J. F. Caldwell who won second.  John Pearce, not to be confused with Joshua Peirce, was the gardener of Thomas Blagden.  Thomas Blagden, amongst other activities, sold the land for the Government Hospital for the Insane, later known as St. Elizabeth’s.

[1] The Gardener and Practical Florist, Volume 2. 1843. URL:
[2] Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Volume 10. 1907. URL:
[3] Force, Peter. A National Calendar. Volume 3. 1822. URL:
[4] Williams, Edwin. The New York Annual Register. 1832. URL:
[6] United States National Museum. Annual Report, Part 2. 1901. URL:
[7] Webb, William Bensing. Centennial History of the City of Washington, D.C. 1892. URL:
[8] David, William. The Acts of Congress In Relation To The District of Columbia. 1831. URL: See also Bryan, Wilhelmus Bogart.  A History of the National Capital: 1815-1878. 1916. URL:
[9] Amerine, Maynard Andrew. A Bibliography of Grapes Wines, Other Alcoholic Beverages, and Temperance. 1996. URL:
[10] Daily National Journal; Date: 02-02-1828; Page: 3;
[11] Peirce, Joshua. Catalogue of fruit and ornamental trees, shrubbery, and plants for sale at the nurseries at Linnaean Hill. 1857. URL:
[12] Hovey & Company. Gardener’s Magazine, Volume 2. 1836. URL:
[13] Hovey & Company. Magazine of Horticulture, Botany and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs, Volume 4. 1838. URL:
[14] Hovey, Charles Mason. The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs. Volume 5. 1840. URL:
[15] Hovey, Charles Mason. The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs. Volume 6. 1840. URL:
[16] Hovey, Charles Mason. The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs. Volume 11. 1845. URL: