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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.

Spanish1

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.

Spanish4

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.

Spanish3

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.

Spanish2

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.

Spanish5

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.

Spanish6

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.

Spanish8

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.

Spanish7

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.

Spanish9

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.

Italian3

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?.

Italian1

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.

Italian11

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.

Italian4

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.

Italian5

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.

Italian6

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.

Italian8

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.

Italian9

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.

Italian7

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.

Italian2

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.

Italian`0

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: http://books.google.com/books?id=5hBIAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[2] Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Volume 10. 1907. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=p7PJmNmjRgoC&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[3] Force, Peter. A National Calendar. Volume 3. 1822. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=xWU9AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA9#v=onepage&q&f=false
[4] Williams, Edwin. The New York Annual Register. 1832. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=hxYXAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[6] United States National Museum. Annual Report, Part 2. 1901. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=zRclAQAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[7] Webb, William Bensing. Centennial History of the City of Washington, D.C. 1892. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=LyUUAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[8] David, William. The Acts of Congress In Relation To The District of Columbia. 1831. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=7LUwAQAAMAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false See also Bryan, Wilhelmus Bogart.  A History of the National Capital: 1815-1878. 1916. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=WyIUAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[9] Amerine, Maynard Andrew. A Bibliography of Grapes Wines, Other Alcoholic Beverages, and Temperance. 1996. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=IPVpBmWSmdYC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP5#v=onepage&q&f=false
[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: http://archive.org/details/catalogueoffruit1857peir
[12] Hovey & Company. Gardener’s Magazine, Volume 2. 1836. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=-wxOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[13] Hovey & Company. Magazine of Horticulture, Botany and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs, Volume 4. 1838. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=TvtIAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR5#v=onepage&q&f=false
[14] Hovey, Charles Mason. The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs. Volume 5. 1840. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=nfNIAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[15] Hovey, Charles Mason. The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs. Volume 6. 1840. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=g0QYAQAAIAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[16] Hovey, Charles Mason. The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs. Volume 11. 1845. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=dLY3AAAAMAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Bomford, Lindsay, and Smith: The Early Vineyards of Washington, DC

September 11, 2013 3 comments

In conducting research for my previous post “Near the President’s House”: The Advertisements of William Cox, Wine Merchant, Washington, DC 1826-1827 I came across Jonathan Elliot’s Historical Sketches of 1830. In this book he describes three vineyards in Washington, DC: John Adlum’s vineyard in Georgetown, Samuel Harrison Smith’s vineyard at Sidney, and Thomas W. Pairo’s near Rock Hill. John Adlum’s Georgetown vineyard has been described to some detail in Thomas Pinney’s History of Wine in America, Volume 1. In researching the vineyards of Smith and Pairo I came across two references to Adam Lindsay’s vineyard. It turns out that this vineyard was described by John A. Saul on April 9, 1906 when he presented a paper on the history of nurseries in the District to the Columbia Historical Society.[1] He also references David Baillie Warden’s District of Columbia book published in 1816. In this book a Mr. Maine is described as having a nursery about two miles north of Georgetown where he “grew grapes, fruit, and other trees.” Whether these were table or wine grapes is unspecified.

Capitol and part of Washington City. Kollner, Augustus. 1839. No. DRWG/US - Kollner, no. 9.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Capitol and part of Washington City. Kollner, Augustus. 1839. No. DRWG/US – Kollner, no. 9.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

John Adlum advertised the sale of grape vine cuttings and slips for both table grapes and wine grapes. According to Thomas Pinney, John Adlum noted that he was out supplied by the demand for his vine cuttings in 1824.[2] His advertisements appear in the Daily National Journal as early as March 4, 1826[3] and as late as May 20, 1829[4]. Thomas Pinney notes that John Adlum faded from publicity between 1830 and his death in 1836, though he continued to cultivate vines and make wine.

Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6.  Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

All three vineyards featured in this post were described in publications from 1830. Colonel Bomford’s vineyard could have been planted as early as 1822 and Samuel Harrison Smith’s vineyard was perhaps planted in the mid 1820s. Colonel Bomford and Samuel Harrison Smith socialized together. Samuel Harrison Smith was friends with Thomas Jefferson with whom John Adlum corresponded with. It is plausible that these men were aware of each other’s vineyards. It is also plausible that John Adlum supplied Colonel Bomford, Adam Lindsay, and Samuel Harrison Smith with vine cuttings. I do find it interesting that the history of these vineyards appears to fall silent after 1830.

After publishing this post I came across reference to The First Autumnal Exhibition of the Columbian Horticultural Society held on September 21-22, 1837. 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 N. Townson] 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”, Mr. Kurtz, Jr. presented “a neat frame containing bunches of Catawba grapes tastefully arranged”, along with grapes from Adam Lindsay which I have listed below. Clearly grape cultivation continued into the 1830s, whether wine was produced from these vines needs to be determined.

Colonel George Bomford’s Vine Hill

In the mid 18th century Anthony Holmead purchased large parcels of land near Georgetown and Rock Creek.[5] In the 1790s he had his property resurveyed and subdivided including a 56 acre estate named Rock Hill. He also sold 30 acres and his first house to Gustavus Scott who renamed the property Belair. The property changed hands a few times until Joel Barlow purchased it in 1807 and renamed it Kalorama. Anthony Holmead had died in 1802 leaving property to his wife and children. His daughter Loveday married real estate broker Thomas W. Pairo in 1805. Together they acquired and lived at Rock Hill. Colonial George Bomford purchased Joel Barlow’s Kalorama estate in 1822. He acquired additional property increasing its size to 90 acres. By 1826, Colonel Bomford had also acquired the Cliffbourne estate.

Washington, D.C. Ruins of Kalorama Hospital. 1865. No. LC-B817- 7690. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Washington, D.C. Ruins of Kalorama Hospital. 1865. No. LC-B817- 7690. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Colonel Bomford was the Chief of Ordnance for the United States Army during the War of 1812. He subsequently speculated in real estate. His Cliffbourne house was located on the western most part of the property which jutted out to the Rock Creek Valley. In 1826 he used the property as collateral to secure a loan from the Bank of the United States.

In 1830 Jonathan Elliot described Thomas W. Pairo as having “a fine thriving vineyard of the choicest vines.” Thomas W. Pairo’s estate was described as east of Kalorama “on this beautiful ridge.” On March 18, 1830 Thomas W. Pairo advertised “VINE HILL FOR SALE OR RENT”.[6] The property was described as that of Colonel G. Bomford located one mile north of the President’s House and near Kalorama. It was of seven acres in size “well enclosed with 5 to 6 thousand Grape Vines mostly in a bearing state.” Applications could be made to Thomas W. Pairo at Rock Hill adjacent to Vine Hill.

Mr. Smith in his 1816 Chorographical notes only one grape vine at Joel Barlow’s estate. Near the summer house “is a white walnut of about a foot in diameter, perforated by a grape vine of three inches in circumference, which has been squeezed to death by the growth of the tree.”[21] General Henry Dearborn was noted in an 1846 report that “When I was in Congress…[o]n the plantation once the seat of Joel Barlow, a man of considerable reputation as a horticulturalist, the foreign vines had been dug up, and native substituted.” [20] General Henry Dearborn served as Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal from May 7, 1822 to June 30, 1824.[22] Upon being recalled at his request he returned to Massachusetts where he died on June 6, 1829. This implies grapevines were cultivated after 1816 and before 1822 or 1824. I have not come across any other references to Vine Hill.

Crop from District of Columbia. Evans & Bartle, 1892. Digital ID g3850m gct00007. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Crop from District of Columbia. Evans & Bartle, 1892. Digital ID g3850m gct00007. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

In looking at the 1892 cropped map, the Kalorama estate appears towards the bottom center of the map and was approached by a long driveway entered near Florida Avenue and R Street. Just north-east of Kalorama is a house with a circular drive in front of it. This is the Rock Hill estate. This map does not show any small seven acre property but it does help as a reference. Jonathan Elliot describes Thomas W. Pairo and Colonel Michael Nourse as possessing “snug little country seats” to the east of Kalorama.

Crop from Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6.  Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Crop from Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

In the 1861 cropped map Kalorama is located just above “E. Lyons” and “Lyons Mill” which are located towards the bottom of the map just above Rock Creek. Just above the unlabeled Kalorama appear the properties of Mrs. J. Kall and Prof. C. Jewett. In comparing the 1861 and 1892 maps I believe that Prof. C. Jewett’s property is Rock Hill. That would make Mrs. J Kall’s property Vine Hill. However, Stephen A. Hansen notes in Kalorama Triangle that Thomas W. Pairo’s daughter Sophia Kall inherited Rock Hill. If the Kall property is in fact Rock Hill then perhaps the small square property to the northwest of it was Vine Hill.

The Vineyard of Adam Lindsay

Crop from Plant of the city of Washington. Elliot, William. 1829. No. G3850 1829 .E4. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Crop from Plan of the city of Washington. Elliot, William. 1829. No. G3850 1829 .E4. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Adam Lindsay was an early resident of Washington, DC. On May 9, 1810 “AN ACT making appropriations to pay certain balances due by corporation” was passed by the City of Washington. In it the treasurer was authorized to pay Adam Lindsay, “a commissioner for building a reservoir near the Eastern Branch market house”, $90 for the balance due in building the reservoir.[7] His name appears throughout the history of Washington, DC. For example, upon being alarmed at the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad he represented the Sixth Ward in a committee in 1827 to further the interesting of the Capitol City Canal.[8] On August 21, 1833 The Columbian Horticultural Society was organized with Adam Lindsay as one of the officers.[9]

Plan of the Navy Yard at Washington, D.C. June 1, 1891. No. G3852.W352 1881 .P5.Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Plan of the Navy Yard at Washington, D.C. June 1, 1891. No. G3852.W352 1881 .P5.Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Adam Lindsay surely would have joined the Horticultural Society because on March 8, 1830 the Daily National Journal announced “Mr. Lindsay’s Vineyard.”[10] The short article claimed that Adam Lindsay had “succeeded in naturalizing some valuable foreign vines, and raising several species of the native grape not generally cultivated.” They recommended the vineyard to “the attention of citizens and strangers who may chance to visit the Metropolis.” On the very same page appears an advertisement by Adam Linday titled, “Grape Cuttings.” It states that a “Large quantity of Cuttings of the finest Grapes for sale at the Vineyard” which was “residing near the Navy Hospital.”

City of Washington from beyond the Navy Yard. Bennett, W. J. 1833. No LOT 4386-A. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

City of Washington from beyond the Navy Yard. Bennett, W. J. 1833. No LOT 4386-A. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In the early 1800s the Department of the Navy “designed two small frame structures” to serve as the medical facility as the Navy Yard.[11] Whether the vineyard was located next to the hospital within the Navy Yard or adjacent to the hospital outside the Navy Yard is unclear. In Bennett’s drawing I do not see a vineyard but there are are grassy areas within the Navy Yard and several small hills surrounding it. Perhaps the vineyard was located on one of these hills.

Adam Lindsay was still cultivating the vine in the late 1830s. At The First Autumnal Exhibition of the Columbian Horticultural Society held on September 21-22, 1837 (?) he 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.”[19]

The Sidney estate of Samuel Harrison Smith

Samuel Harrison Smith (1772-1845) was the son of Jonathan Bayard Smith, a member of the Continental Congress and signer of the Articles of Confederation. His early career involved writing and editing in Philadelphia before founding the first national newspaper The National Intelligencer. In 1813, he was appointed Commissioner of the Revenue for the United States Treasury, became Secretary of the Treasury in 1814, as well as serving as the president of the Bank of Washington then president of the Washington branch of the Bank of the United States. On September 29, 1800 he married his second cousin Margaret Bayard. She was the daughter of Colonel John Bubenheim Bayard and Margaret Hodge. Her father was a member of the Continental Congress and was later encamped with General George Washington at Valley Forge when she was born. She wrote several books including The Diversions of Sidney (1805), A Winter in Washington, or Memoirs of the Seymour Family (1824), and What is Gentility? (1825). In 1906 Gaillard Hunt edited a collection of her letters and notebooks in the book The First Forty Years of Washington Society. Her writings detail the close relationship with President Thomas Jefferson.

Samuel Harrison Smith moved to Washington, DC when president-elect Thomas Jefferson suggested he create an official record of the new administration. Samuel Harrison Smith had a house in the city of Washington, DC. Shortly after marriage he purchased “Turkey Thicket” as a country seat. Turkey Thicket was originally granted and surveyed for John Magruder in September 1736 when it was located within Montgomery County, Maryland.[12] It comprised some 160 acres of land.[13] Samuel Harrison Smith acquired Turkey Thicket in 1804 paying $10 per acre. At the time it had been owned by Henry Duley, who had died intestate prior to 1802, thus leaving his ten children as heirs. Samuel Harrison Smith sold the land on January 1, 1839 to Mr. France[14] after which it was purchased by the Middleton family in 1844 for $12,0000. On October 27, 1886, land was purchased for Catholic University included the Middleton estate for $27,000.[15] Unfortunately, Samuel Harrison Smith had never paid $74 for Eleanor Duley’s portion of the Turkey Thicket estate. It was not until June 26, 1889 that the title was cleared.[16] Samuel Harrison Smith’s house was incorporated by the Middletons and the University into a yellow brick addition on three sides. It was eventually demolished in 1970.

Mr. Smith in his 1816 Chorographical describes the “Residence of Harrison Smith, Esq.” He notes the “surrounding little hills, covered with trees, are truly romantic.” He lists some 23 “trees and shrubs” as growing on the property including “Wild Grape of different kinds.” Mr. Smith does not mention an orchard and gives the general impression that the land was undeveloped.

Jonathan Elliot describes Sidney in 1830 as “Among the commanding sites that surround the City.”[17] The house was approached through a long avenue of sycamore and locust trees, eventually reaching an altitude of 300 feet above the tide water. The house itself was surrounded with shrubbery from which, gradually descending down, were “a great variety of the choicest fruits”. From this point the ground ascended and in full view of the house were the orchard and vineyard. The orchard was “principally of Hughes’ Crab, with vines, of numerous sorts, occupying alternate rows.” Both foreign and domestic fruits grew well “with great luxuriance, and the fruit seldom fails of attaining maturity.” Exactly how many rows and their length are unstated. The soils were “chiefly silicious and so light and deep as to admit the roots to shoot with vigour.” Though the tree fruit grew well the “great staple will probably be the vine, to which the soil and the gentle undulations of the ground are so highly favourable.” Jonathan Elliot then concludes in confirmation of Volney that “this region of country, from its aspect and soil, bore a striking resemblance to that surrounding Bordeaux, in France.”

First Crop from Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6.  Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

First Crop from Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

I still have not found any other descriptions of the grape vines of the Sidney estate. The early maps of the Library of Congress show detail within the city of Washington but outside lie only creeks, rivers, and major roads. The Middleton estate is labeled in the Topographical Map of the District of Columbia published by McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun in 1861 as surveyed in 1856-1859. In the cropped map the United Sates Capitol would be located in the bottom right-hand corner and the Middleton estate in the top left-hand corner. This is actually north of the Capitol but due to the orientation of the map it is diagonal.

Second Crop from Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6.  Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Second Crop from Topographical map of the District of Columbia. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. No. G3850 1861 .B6. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The second cropped map reveals the Middleton estate in the center. At the bottom, middle of the map the road splits with the long tree-line driveway branching off from the middle of the split. The third cropped map is from the District of Columbia engraved by Evans & Bartle 1892 – 1894. The estate layout remains the same despite the surrounding development of thirty years. It appears that mature trees are large green shapes with shrubbery or young trees as small green shapes. Both estate maps show forests, representing by random trees intermixed with shrubbery, and orchards and avenues represented by neatly spaced trees. In the 1861 map the house is surrounded by trees on the northwestern and southwestern quadrants. These trees are represented by neat roads with little dots in between them. In the 1892 map the trees in the southwest quadrant have been removed. There are no little dots between the northwest quadrant trees but there are little dots, what appear to be shrubbery, surrounding the northern half of the house.

Crop from District of Columbia. Evans & Bartle, 1892. Digital ID g3850m gct00007. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Crop from District of Columbia. Evans & Bartle, 1892. Digital ID g3850m gct00007. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The orchard and vineyard were reached from the house by gradually descending down then ascending up. The fruit trees and vines were in full view of the house. The topographic scales vary between the two maps but that of the 1892 appear every five feet, thus offering better detail of the terrain. It appears that if one left the house facing due west you would descend from just over 205 feet to 185 to 190 feet in elevation. Continuing west would require a steep ascent to a small peak of 215 feet which would offer a direct view of the house. The 1861 map also reveals neatly spaced trees and small dots in the southeastern quadrant. Jonathan Elliot only described one location for the vineyard and orchard. Jonathan Elliot published his book in 1830 and Samuel Harrison Smith sold the estate in 1839, so it is possible he expanded both the orchard and vineyard.

In sticking to the northwest quadrant the 1861 map reveals approximately five long rows and two short rows of trees oriented on the diagonal. The trees approximately lie on a grid revealing some 36 trees. The rows of trees were planted 30 feet apart. With in a row of vines, they were planted six feet apart. This large spacing was to avoid shade. If the trees were planted on a grid then with a row the trees were spaced 30 feet. The five long rows contain six trees each thus was 150 feet in length. The 1892 maps reveal some eight rows of trees, oriented closer to the vertical, lying on a grid. There are approximately 90 trees in rows from three to 13 trees in length. The longest row would then be 360 feet in length. There is a discrepancy because the grid of trees represents the area of cultivation and not the actual number of trees. Using the scale from both maps I get approximately 525-600 feet as the longest row of trees. If we take the cultivated area to be a rectangle of 300 feet wide by 525 feet long then there would be approximately 17 rows of vines, each with approximately 88 vines. This yields almost 1,500 vines.

The Smith’s both drank wine. On April 26, 1803 Samuel wrote a letter to Margaret after having dinner with Mr. Madison at General Dearborn’s house.[18] After a few bottles of Champagne had been finish Mr. Madison observed “that it was the most delightful wine when drank in moderation, but that more than a few glasses always produced a headache the next day.” Mr. Granger remarked “that this was the very time to try the experiment, as the next day being Sunday would allow time for a recovery from its effects.” This was not “lost upon the host and bottle after bottle came in.” On August 1, 1809 Margaret Bayard Smith described her visit to Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. At one dinner the “table was plainly, but genteely and plentifuly spread, and his immense and costly variety of French and Italian wines, gave place to Madeira and sweet ladies’ wine.”

Jonathan Elliot submitted Historical Sketches to the Clerk of the District Court for the District of Columbia on March 23, 1830. From Samuel Harrison Smith’s vines “Some experiments, of rather favorable issues, have been tried in making wine; but the vines are yet too young to expect much success in this respect.” Given the submission date of Historical Sketches the latest vintage Jonathan Elliot could have written about would be 1829. If the “experiments” consisted of a single vintage and he waited for the third year to produce the wine then the “young” vines could have been planted in the spring of 1826. Thomas Jefferson was a close friend of Margaret and Samuel Harrison Smith. He even visited the Sidney estate. While he might have encouraged Samuel Harrison Smith to plant a vineyard, he was never able to taste the wine.


[1] Columbia Historical Society Records, Volume 10. 1907. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=Dvs7AAAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[2] Pinney, Thomas. A History of Wine in America, Volume 1. 1989. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=fmcwfK5G_YkC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[3] Daily National Journal; Date: 03-04-1826; Volume: II; Issue: 486; Page: [1]
[4] Daily National Journal; Date: 05-20-1829; Volume: V; Issue: 1702; Page: [1]
[6] Daily National Journal; Date: 03-18-1830; Volume: VI; Issue: 1957; Page: [3]
[7] Acts of the Corporation of the City of Washington. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=T7IwAQAAMAAJ&pg=PP9#v=onepage&q&f=false
[8] Crew, Harvey W. Centennial History of the City of Washington, D.C. 1892. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=s1lIAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[9] Columbia Historical Society Records, Volume 10. 1907. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=Dvs7AAAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[10] Daily National Journal; Date: 03-08-1830; Volume: VI; Issue: 1948; Page: [3]
[11] Streitmatter, Rodger. History of the Old Naval Hospital. URL: http://www.oldnavalhospital.org/History_Streitmatter.html
[12] Boyd, T.H.S. The History of Montgomery County, Maryland, from its earliest settlement in 1650-1879. 1879. URL: http://archive.org/details/historyofmontgom00boy
[13] Ginck, J.L. Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. 1890. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=KGBJAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
[14] Nuesse, C. Joseph. The Catholic University of America: A Centennial History. 1990. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=m0qHDsqzc20C&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[15] St Thomas Hall, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Middletown House. URL: http://archives.lib.cua.edu/vanish/stthomas.cfm
[16] James Gibbons vs. David Duley et al, In Equity, No. 10,243. The Washington Law Reporter, Volume 17. 1890. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=nPMZAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[17] Elliot, Jonathan. Historical Sketches of the Ten Miles Square Forming the District of Columbia. 1830. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=cfsLHcNlHCMC&vq=rock%20hill&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=rock%20hill&f=false
[18] Smith, Margaret Bayard. The First Forty Years of Washington Society. 1906. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=cKEdAAAAMAAJ&pg=PR3#v=onepage&q&f=false
[19] Magazine of Horticulture, Botonay and All Useful Discovered and Improvements in Rural Affairs, Volume 4. 1838. URL:http://books.google.com/books?id=TvtIAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR5#v=onepage&q&f=false
[20] American Institute in the City of New York. Annual Report of the American Institute, on the subject of Agriculture. 1847. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=mg5AAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[21] Smith. A Chorographical and Statistical Description of the District of Columbia. 1816. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=Jn8FAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR3#v=onepage&q&f=false
[22] Dearborn, Henry. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. URL: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=d000178

“Near the President’s House”: The Advertisements of William Cox, Wine Merchant, Washington, DC 1826-1827

September 9, 2013 2 comments
View of Washington. E. Sachse & Co. 1852. No. 98515951. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

View of Washington. E. Sachse & Co. 1852. No. 98515951. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The wooden dome of the United States Capitol had recently been completed as had the South Portico of the reconstructed White House. On January 5, 1826, William Cox placed an advertisement in the Daily National Journal for the sale of “Champaigne, London Porter, and old Madeira.”[1] The store was located “Near the President’s House” on Pennsylvania Avenue. On December 9, 1826 the location was specified as across from the “Williamson’s Hotel.” Williamson’s Hotel was located at Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street where the Willard Intercontinental Hotel is now located. There was a series of five buildings arranged as a hotel for some time but operated under various proprietors and names including Williamson’s Mansion Hotel between 1824 – 1833. The construction of the Treasury Building did not begin until 1836 so William Cox had unobstructed views of the White House and the United States Capitol. Pennsylvania Avenue was a dirt road at the time, not being paved until 1833, and the Washington City Canal had been operating for over one decade.

Plan of the city of Washington. William Elliot. 1829. No. 88694087. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Plan of the city of Washington. William Elliot. 1829. No. 88694087. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The first advertisement details wine and sundries received from three vessels the Schooner Velocity, the ship Cent from Boston, and the ship Esther and Sally from Philadelphia. The wine and spirits list is as follows:

15 hampers sparkling half white and half rose Champagne
8 qr casks old Madeira, Lycock & Monteno’s Brands, vintage of 1819.
2 do do do Coren’s brand, vintage of 1820
3 half pipes selected Sicily Madeira
3 do do do Teneriffe or Vidonia Wine, 5 years old
4 casks Hibberts double brown stout, in quart bottles
7 do do do do do in pint do
20 dozen old Madeira, from the house of Olivera, imported in 1814
11 do old high coloured Sherry
11 do do pale do do
9 do do Southhampton Port
5 quarter casks Dry Malaga
3 do do Malaga Sherry
10 half quarter cask French Madera
5 quarter casks French Madeira hhd Irish Whiskey

This advertisement ran with unaltered contents three more times in February and March. Adjacent to the second[2] and third[3] advertisements ran an advertisement for “GRAPE VINES.” The grape vines referred to both table and wine grapevines supplied by John Adlum from his vineyard in Georgetown. From February to the next spring he was selling grapevine cuttings and slips for table grapes at $1 per dozen and for wine grapes at $1 to $3 per one hundred. Of the wine grapes once could purchase the Bland’s Madeira and Catawba at $1 per hundred, the Schuylkill Muscadell, the Constantia of Cape of Good Hope, the Worthington, and the “Lufborough” at $3 per one hundred. Like Thomas Cox, deliveries within Washington and Georgetown were free of additional cost.

At the time, the cost of a license to sell wine “not less than a pint” was relatively inexpensive at $10. In comparison shops ’retailers of spirituous liquors at fish docks ran $10, shops that sold liquor ran $50, and those that sold wines less than a pint at $50.

On December 9, 1826 William Cox advertised new stock in a different format. His list of “Old, Pure, and Selected WINES AND LIQUORS” was organized into “Wines in Bottles and Wood”, “Liquor in Wood and Bottles”, “French Rhine and Constantia Wine”, “ Old Port Wines, London Porter, Hibberts Double-Brown Stout, &c.”, “Cordials, Liquors, and Old Arrack”, and “ALSO”.[4] This list featured “a choice selection of Wines and Liquors, which have been gradually accumulating and improving for years.” The Madeira selection was extensive. Of the “L. P. Madeira (south side)”, vintages 1814 to 1822, there were 7 pipes, 12 half pipes, 10 quarter casks, along with 15 half, quarters, and ten gallons casks. The newspaper images I looked at appear to be low-resolution, high-contrast digitized copies of microfilm making sections difficult to read so excusive the following transcription. Old London Particular Madeira was available from the houses of Leacock, Montena, Olivera, Sco Langham, Painful t & Co, Gordon, Lynch, Blandy, Aranjo, Kerr, Mauch, Corea. This stock was available in wood, demijohns, and bottles “most of which have been a voyage to the East or West Indies, Brazils, or cost of Africa.” There were 500 dozen “old bottled Madeira and Sherry” from various importers from 1811 to 1820 most of which had “undergone a voyage to the East Indies.” There was Champagne from 1820 and 1825, Constantia Wine, and Imperial Tokay. Of the claret and Burgundy there were 80 cases consisting of “Chateau Margeau”, “Margeau Lafitte”, “Chateau Lafitte”, “Gruaud La Rose”, “St Julian, Medoc”, Hermitage, “Chambertin Brugundy”, “Macen do. Latour”, “Burgundy Claret”, and “old Hoc”.

View, looking N.W. from roof of Capitol. Benjamin Brown French Photographs. No. LOT 12251, p. 129 [P&P]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

View, looking N.W. from roof of Capitol. Benjamin Brown French Photographs. June 27, 1861. No. LOT 12251, p. 129 [P&P]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

William Cox advertised his wines six times from December 9 through December 18, 1826[5]. Perhaps this was done for the Christmas season. The same advertisement resumed January 8, 1827[6] and continued several times per week until May 8, 1827[7]. The Daily National Journal was published between 1824 and 1832.[8] I have not found any other advertisements by William Cox in the Early American Newspapers Series 2, 1758-1900 which span the publication range of the Daily National Journal with some 1500 digitized issues. To address optical character recognition issues I tried other search variations which returned only a handful of additional advertisements. If the inventory of William Cox did not change then perhaps he did go out of business. It is also possible that his lease expired or the building was demolished for new construction.

Near Pennsylv. Ave. and 7th St. At Washington City. Kollner, Augustus. 1839. No. DRWG/US - Kollner, no. 13.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Near Pennsylv. Ave. and 7th St. At Washington City. Kollner, Augustus. 1839. No. DRWG/US – Kollner, no. 13. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In a quick search I could not find additional information about William Cox. When Jonathan Elliot published his Historical Sketches in 1830 he noted “a wine store” under the same roof as Mr. Gadsby’s National Hotel at Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street.[9] No stores were noted near the Mansion Hotel or the Williamsons’ City Hotel. This might corroborate the disappearance of William Cox’s store in 1827. Despite the scarcity of wine stores Jonathan Elliot mentions three different vineyards in Washington, DC. The most famous of which was John Adlum’s vineyard in Georgetown which contained 20-30 different kinds of grapevines.

Samuel Harrison Smith had a large country seat located three miles north of the Capitol. He had married his second cousin Margaret Bayard in 1800. In 1804 Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith viewed her “retreat” for the first time. She described it as “A good house on top of a high hill, with high hills all around it, embower’d in woods, thro’ an opening of which the Potomack, its shores and Mason’s Island are distinctly seen. I have never been more charmingly surprised than on seeing this retreat.”[10] By 1830, surrounding the house were “grounds containing a great variety of the choicest fruits, very successfully cultivated.” Amongst these fruits were grapevines. The vines themselves were planted six feet apart in a long row. Each row of vines was located between rows of apple trees which were spaced 30 feet apart placing the vines 15 feet from the trees. “the bed in which the vines are reared, is raised by successive ploughings towards the centre, which has the twofold effect of giving depth to the soil, and of arresting the descent of the rain down the hill. To the latter circumstance, much of the success is probably owing.” From these vines “Some experiments, of rather favorable issues, have been tried in making wine; but the vines are yet too young to expect much success in this respect.”

In Kalorama the seat of the late Joel Barlow had been taken over by Colonel Bomford. Just to the east of the Kalorama ridge were the seats of Thomas W. Pairo and Colonel Michael Nourse. Mr. Pairo had “a fine thriving vineyard of the choicest vines.” Thomas W. Pairo was a real estate broker.[11] On March 18, 1830 he advertised “VINE HILL FOR SALE OR RENT”.[12] The property was described as that of Colonel G. Bomford located one mile north of the President’s House and near Kalorama. It was of seven acres in size “well enclosed with 5 to 6 thousand Grape Vines mostly in a bearing state.” Applications could be made to Thomas W. Pairo at Rock Hill adjacent to Vine Hill. It appears that Jonathan Elliot incorrectly attributed the vines of Vine Hill to Thomas W. Pairo. Unless, perhaps, Thomas W. Pair took over the vineyard.

In addition to wine, spirits, and beer William Cox sold demijohns in sizes from quart to five gallons, hampers, “Claret Wine Bottles”, as well as “Patent Wine Bottles” in quart and pint sizes. Thomas W. Pair had his office at Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street. Perhaps at one point the wines of Vine Hill or those of Samuel Harrison Smith were bottled using containers from William Cox.

Note,  The advertisements of William Cox are more extensive in the Daily National Intelligencer.  for example on November 21, 1829, the house used by the Colonization Society was put up for rent.  It had been used “for many years previously by Capt. Wm. Cox, as a wine and liquor store, nearly opposite the Mansion House Hotel, Penn, Avenue.”[13]


[1] Daily National Journal; Date: 01-05-1826; Volume: II; Issue: 436; Page: [1]
[2] Daily National Journal; Date: 02-07-1826; Volume: II; Issue: 464; Page: [1]
[3] Daily National Journal; Date: 02-22-1826; Volume: II; Issue: 477; Page: [1]
[4] Daily National Journal; Date: 12-09-1826; Volume: III; Issue: 722; Page: [4]
[5] Daily National Journal; Date: 12-18-1826; Volume: III; Issue: 729; Page: [4]
[6] Daily National Journal; Date: 01-08-1827; Volume: III; Issue: 735; Page: [4]
[7] Daily National Journal; Date: 05-08-1827; Volume: III; Issue: 837; Page: [4]
[8] About Daily National Journal. URL: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045660/
[9] Elliot, Jonathan. Historical Sketches of the Ten Miles Square Forming the District of Columbia. 1830. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=cfsLHcNlHCMC&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[10] Smith, Margaret Bayard. The First Forty Years of Washington Society. 1906. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=AI8AAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[11] Hanse, Stephen A. Kalorama Triangle: The History of a Capital Neighborhood. 2011.
[12] Daily National Journal; Date: 03-18-1830; Volume: VI; Issue: 1957; Page: [3]
[13] Date: Saturday, November 21, 1829   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XVII   Issue: 5244   Page: 1.

Images From Manhattan

September 7, 2013 Leave a comment

During our recent trip to Manhattan we drank 1985 Chateau Clerc Milon, Pauillac at Charlie Bird Restaurant. I purchased a few bottles of wine  at Crush Wine & Spirits and a few cases at Chambers Street Wines.  Our dinner at Saxon + Parole Restaurant began with the Celery Gimlet for Jenn and the Airmail for myself followed by the 2009 Ranchero Cellars, Carignan, Colombini Vineyard, Mendocino County.   New Zealand Pinot Noir and Ruby Port recharged us at The Musket Room.  Our visit was, as always, great fun!

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Everyone Needs a Cousin Oscar!!!

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

This might be the ideal wine for the transition from summer to fall.  It is a touch more serious than most rosé but is still quaffable, only 11.5% ABV, and refreshing.  It showed best after one hour of air so I would dump the bottle into a decanter or carafe.  It was our favorite of the three wines we were tasting.  Enough so that Jenn would purchase a case.  This wine was purchased at Chambers Street Wines where there are still two bottles still available as of this morning.

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2012 Domaine Rimbert, Cousin Oliver, Vin de Table – $12
Imported by Jenny and Francois Selections.  This wine is 100% young-vine Cinsault.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The nose revealed grapey berries.  In the mouth there was grapey, red fruit which became gentle, powdery fresh raspberry and cherry.  There was a very gentle structure which reflected in some firmness towards the middle.  This was a light wine but still confident.  It takes an hour of air to be fully expressive but it is still a wine to drink now.  It finally showed dark fruits and a little racy aspect.  ** Now.

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