Posts Tagged ‘Colonial Williamsburg’

“…has produced two bunches of grapes; a fact which would not be believed…” September 09, 1775

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr passed away in July 1775.  Two months later an unsigned article appeared in the Virginia Gazette describing the successful growth of Colonel Bolling’s slips.  It also mentioned finding promising wild grapes, which would have certainly pleased Andrew Estave.  The vineyard in Albermarle was not properly tended to thus ending the dispute between Colonel Robert Bolling Jr. and Andrew Estave.

From the Virginia Gazette, Dixon and Hunter, September 09, 1775, Page 2 (

Circumstances of intelligence, proving the excellence of the soil and climate of Virginia, which, to the astonishment of those who came from the best parts of Europe, have been, by many, thought to be bad.

 Of 184 plants of oranges, citrons, lemons, &c. put into boxes in Italy, in the month of October, landed in Virginia in June last (when of course they would have but small remains of life) and set in the earth in Albermarle about the latter end of the same month, there are now an hundred and thirty odd which have put out new and luxuriant shoots.  Two thirds of the vines which were planted under the same disadvantages have likewise put out new shoots.  The olive plants are all living.

The vines planted by Mr. Bolling in the county of Buckingham, although managed according to the directions of the French writes of the 48th and 49th degrees of latitude, are in a condition to yield wine the ensuring year, if well attended to.  The slips planted by that Gentleman the last year, after the method of the vignerons of Europe inhabiting a climate similar to our own, have now the appearance of vines 3 to 4 years old.  A slip planted by him in the spring of the present year has produced two bunches of grapes; a fact which would not be believed in the wine countries of the old world.

Two kinds of wild grapes have been discovered, of the most promising quality for making good wine when they shall be improved by cultivation, and doubtless more may be discovered.

The olive trees planted in Albermarle, under the Blue Ridge of mountains, about two months before the remarkable fruit of the

From the Virginia Gazette, Dixon and Hunter, September 09, 1775, Page 3 (

5th of May 1774, are now in a more thriving condition than it is thought they would have been under the like circumstance in any of the old countries of Europe.

This country is certainly calculated to produce, in perfection, every thing of the growth of the temperate zones; and may, by industry, be rendered abundant, happy, and rich, if it’s inhabitants can be persuaded to bet the better of their diffidence of it’s climate as to things which it will most readily yield.

“RUN away…” October 13, 1774

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Andrew Estave continues to advertise for run away slaves, with no mention of the state of his experiment at The Vineyard.

From the Virginia Gazette, Pinkney, October 13,1774, Page3

RUN away, about the middle of September, a negro fellow named JACK, about 35 years old, and about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high; clothed as negroes generally are.  TEN SHILLINGS will be given to any person that will bring him to me, near Williamsburg.


“…a melancholy Description to the Injury done by the late Frost…” May 12, 1774

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The dialog between Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr. and Andrew Estave quieted down throughout the Fall and Winter of 1773.  In the Spring of 1774 it was Mother-Nature who offered no shelter from a devastating late frost.

From the Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, May 12, 1774, Page 4


ACCOUNTS from various Parts of the Country give a melancholy Description to the Injury done by the late Frost, which was the severest, at this Season of the Year, ever remembered.  The forward Wheat is greatly injured every Where, and in some Places ruined; the same may be said of the Tobacco Plants.  The Corn, which was generally come up, is demolished in such a Manner that it is feared it will never shoot out again, but may be all replanted.  The Fruit, of all Sorts, is destroyed ever Where but upon the Rivers; Vines, of all Kinds, are killed; and many of the Forest Trees have received such Injury that their Leaves are turned black and withering, so that there is but a bad Prospect of any Mast this Year. 

The Brilliant, Miller ( with Servants) and Martin, Clark, from London, the York, Rose, and ____, Benson, from Whitehave, are arrived in York River; and the Donald, Ramsay, from Glasgow, In James River.

“RUN away from the Subscriber…” November 18, 1773

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The only publications from Andrew Estave in the Virginia Gazette during the Fall of 1773 and Spring of 1774 consists of runaway slave advertisements.

From the Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, November 18, 1773, Page 2

RUN away from the Subscriber, near Williamsburg, about a Fortnight ago, a Negro Man named JACK, of a very small size, about forty Years old, and lost his left Eye.  Whoever delivers him to me shall have 10 S.  Rewards, besides what the Law allows.


From the Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, March 24, 1774, Page 3

RUN away from the Vineyard, three Weeks ago, a new Negro Man named SUNDAY, about five Feet five Inches high, 25 Years old, well made, and very black; had on a Mommouth Cap, a white Cotton Waistcoat and Breeches, and a green Waistcoat under the Cotton one.  I will give a Reward of 10 S. to any Person that will deliver him to me.  ANDREW ESTAVE.

“…they want Fire, their Juices are not spirituous enough…” August 02, 1773

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Only a few days later Andrew Estave publishes a response to Colonel Bolling, Jr’s request for vigor in his continuing campaign in support of foreign vines.  With this response Andrew Estave hopes to “remove a Part of the prejudice entertained, without any good Reason, against our native Grapes.”

From Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, August 02, 1773, Page 3


THE Essay on Vines, which appeared in a former Gazette with the Signature of R. BOLLLING, is entitled to the Approbation of the Publick.  It had its Source, without Doubt, in that holy Zeal which warms the Breast of every true Patriot in Matters that concern the Happiness of his Country; but this Zeal is sometimes destructive of its own Purpose;  and may have fatal Consequences when not accompanied with a thorough Knowledge of the Affair in Agitation.

 I shall be permitted, I hope, without incurring the Charge of Fondess for Dispute, or Inclination to give Offence, briefly to examine a favourite Doctrine of Mr. Bolling’s.  He seems to have condemned all the native Grapes of this Country, to the Fate of never producing any other than a mean Wine, “for (says he) they want Fire, their Juices are not spirituous enough to furnish the Wine obtained from them with a sufficient Body.”  This is certainly true with Respect to the Grapes which grow wild in the Woods, or wherever Chance has scattered their Seeds.  But, has Experience ascertained the Degree of Improvement of which these Grapes are capable?  Has any one transplanted the Vines, enclosed, cultivated, and dressed them, after the Manner practiced in the most celebrated Wine Countries?  If all this has been done, and yet their Product has appeared not superior to that of the wild unmanaged Vine, I yield, and acknowledge myself deceived in my Attempt; but no one, I imagine, has a Right to condemn it until the Experiment has been fairly made.

 To develop a little my Notion by Example, I shall suppose that a Vine Stock of an Inch Diameter, growing wild, may produce ten or twelve Branches, and about three Hundred Bunches of Grapes.  A Stock of the same Sort and Size, being cultivated, and properly managed, will have only one or two small Branches left.  With two Eyes each, which may produce at the next Shoot three or four Branches, and eight or ten Bunches of Fruit.  Now the same Quantity of Spirit a Substance which in the first Instance is diffused through about three Hundred Bunches seems in the second to be concentred in eight or ten, from which one may form an Idea of the Difference that will be found in the Wine obtained from these different Stocks.  The native Vines which I planted about two Years since have from four to ten Bunches each; and their Grapes are as big again as the wild, although they do not ripen until the End of September, or the Beginning of October.  What I have said, if it meets with the Credit at Merits, may serve to remove a Part of the prejudice entertained, without any good Reason, against our native Grapes.

 I agree, with all the experienced Cultivators of Vines, that the Grapes which ripen latest are the best; and more than one Half of the seventy Species, which we have in this Country, become ripe between the Middle of September and the 15th of October.

 Had Colonel Bolling ever been in Canada, he must have been convinced, as I was by my own Eyes, that the unfruitful Vines of that Country differ too much from those we have here to make their ill Fate an Argument against the Cultivation of our own Grapes.  Upon the Whole, we ought not to blame his Endeavours to introduce amongst us a better Sort of Plants than we at present enjoy; but I doubt exceedingly their

Success. I am the Publick’s
Obedient Servant,
A.      ESTAVE.

“…will certainly, and the Lachryma very probably, answer in Virginia.” July 29, 1773

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Two months after Andrew Estave readied for his apprentices, Colonel Bolling, Jr. publishes an article re-asserting the importance of importing and cultivating foreign vines for Virginia.  In his address he quotes both Philip Miller and Nicolas Bidet.  Philip Miller, born 1691, was a Scottish botanist who was head gardner of the Chelsea Physic Garden. He published The Gardeners Dictionary in 1731.  Nicolas Bidet, born 1709 in Riems, was an agronomist and wine grower.  He first published Traité sur la nature et sur la culture de la vigne in 1752 with a second edition in 1759. 

With these two supporting references Colonel Bolling, Jr. feels confident that the Lachryma vine would be best for Virginia.  He rallies the readers by stating, “But all the Reflexions in the World are unavailing, unless you, Gentlemen, who conceive the Utility of the Measure contribute a little Vigour to its Execution.” In the end he provides instructions for anyone who wants to furnish him with little slips of foreign vines.

From Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, July 29, 1773, Page 3



It is much to be regretted, that at a Time when the Country appears to have an earnest Desire to see a fair Experiment of the Practicability of making Wine in Virginia, some small Effort is note made at least to procure Vines proper for the Purpose.  Whatever Grape [unreadable] to Cultivation in Countries like the North of France and in the South of Britain (whose Summers are cooler than ours) will not come to the same in this Country.  Miller, that Excellent Naturalist, says, “that he believes it will be found true in all Fruits (therefore in Grapes) that where the natural Heat of the Sun ripens and prepares their Juices, so as to render them palatable (and, you may say, proper for Wine) whatever Degree of Heat those Juices may have more will render them weaker, less spirituous (and more improper for Wine).”  An Austere Grape, from those Countries (as the Treffau) would be far more eligible than their [unreadable] Grapes; the same Miller observing, “that rough austere Fruits transplanted from a cold to a warmer Climate, have been so altered by the greater Heat of the Sun as to excel the very finest Fruits of the Country, whence they were taken.”  By Parity of Reason, whatever Fruit comes to entire Perfection in warm Countries, will lose of its Perfection by Transplantation in colder; but such as are too sweet and luscious or produce Liquors that are so, will receive an Improvement.  The Lachryma at Naples, wich requires Years before it gain an agreeable Dryness, would probably be improved by the Diminuation of Sweetness it would obtain by Cultivation in Virginia.  But what might not be expected from the Vines which produce the Tuscan Verdea and the Montepulciano?  These are excellent, in the Grand Dutchy, and would hence scare perceive a Change of Climate.

The Gardeners Dictionary, Philip Miller, London ,1732, Image from Google Books

It is not enough that Grapes come to a fine Maturity in Virginia to make Wine.  The Time of that Maturity is of the utmost Consequence.  If it arrive before the 25th of August, the Wine (unless in Cellars uncommonly deep) is liable to be injured by too hasty a Fermentation.  If between that Time and the 10th of September r(besides the above mentioned Inconvenience, if the Weather be fair) let is be remembered that almost all the great Gusts  have happened in that Interval, and that, when no Gusts happen, we seldom fail of a Season of eastwardly Winds and wet Weather.  Of the ripening Grapes, which would resist the Violence of the Winds, many would burst, and the Remainder be greatly hurt in Quality by a Superfluity of Water, which the Sun would not have Time to concot.  Upon the Whole, it seems that the best Season for the Maturity of the Grape is from the 10th of September (as Gusts seldom happen to late) until the first Frosts of Autumn, towards the last of October, when the Vicissitudes of Heat and Cold are not to great nor sudden.  In Europe the Vintage of Lagadica, in the Country of the Grifons, is in July; at Naples, in the last Days of October and Beginning of November; in other Places, at all intervening Times.  Why must we render Success, in an important Enterprise, altogether uncertain, rather than be at the trifling Expense of importing Vines proper for our Climate?

Traite Sur La Nature et Sur La Culture de la Vigne, Nicolas Bidet, Paris, 1759, Image from Google Books

It is true that Vineyards of a fine early Grape may produce Raisins, an Article in Commerce far from despicable; but our Object is Wine.  I cannot hear of a single Vine whose Grapes may be expected to produce it, in any Degree of Excellence, without Precautions that cannot generally be taken.  White Grapes, according to Bidet, Author of a valuable Treastise on Viticulture, are greatly inferior to black ones.  We have none that are black; and our Purple are all early, because imported from Countries whose moderate Summers can only bring such to Maturity.  A grape, which ripens in England in September, will, like Wheat, ripen here in July.  I have very respectable Authority for saying that Burgundy Grapes have failed upon fair Experiment in Maryland; a contrary Even had been surprising.  That Grape (the Auvergnac) is the same precisely which Miller recommends as the best for England.  It cannot be supposed (if any Reliance may be had on Miller’s Reasoning) that a Grape, the best calculated for England, can be, in any Respect, calculated for Virginia or Maryland.  After every Inquiry, possible for me, I am persuaded the Vines of Upper Italy will certainly, and the Lachryma very probably, answer in Virginia.  But not to neglect whatever Change, and not Design, may have furnished, I think it a Duty to request whoever, among the Wellwishers to Vineyards, may have a late Grape and can spare me Cuttings, to advise in Time for me to receive them on the first of November.  The Country has unhappily a great Partiality for native Vines, the only native Production to which it was ever partial.  Whoever attempts a Vineyard of those and miscarries, may indeed incur, but not deserve, Censure.  Bidet, after enumerating the several Vines in Frances, concludes with an account of the Virginvine.  “these are (says he) various Sorts of them used in Courts and Gardens to cover such high Walls as are not exposed to the Sun, and where fructiferous Plants cannot produce.  The Wild Vine is called, in Latin, Labrusca, in French, Vignes-vierge. It comes to us from Canada, and bears Fruit neither palatable nor proper for Wine.  It wants Fire (il n’a point de Feu) it comes well from the seed.”  The Want of Fire, mentioned by Bidet (derived from that of a sufficient saccharine Substance, if I rightly understand the Term) I am feasible, from Experiment,

From Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, July 29, 1773, Page 3

is chargeable on our native Summer Grapes.  Indeed, it is scarce to be doubted but those Canada Grapes are the very same.  We must, like the different People of Europe who make Wine, import foreign Vines, and expect Success from a judicious Choice.  What shall prevent it, it is hard to imagine.  Never was greater Temptation to a publick Exertion; but we seem to study our own Disappointment by superadding to the Difficulties, peculiar to a new Enterprise, whatever is likely to tender its Success precarious.  Having Occasion to apply to you, Gentlemen, for your Assistance in furnishing Slips for my Vineyard, I thought it not impertinent to add the above Reflexions; which, inasmuch as they are drawn from Miller, deserve to be considered.  But all the Reflexions in the World are unavailing, unless you, Gentlemen, who conceive the Utility of the Measure contribute a little Vigour to its Execution.

I am, Gentleman, your most obedient Servant,

June 20, 1773. ROBERT BOLLING, Junior.

P.S. Boxes of Slips, covered in Earth, and sent up James River, by Water, to the Care of Mr. Richard Crump, Merchant, Rocky Ridge, would have a quick Conveyance to the Vineyard in Buckingham.


“…to teach them the art of cultivating vines, and making wine.” May 27, 1773

October 26, 2011 2 comments

Andrew Estave was finally ready for his three apprentices almost four years after the General Assembly approved his funding.  This left two years for him to provide their instruction.

From Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, May 27, 1773, Page 2

The trustees appointed by an act of Assembly, for encouraging the making WINE in this colony, give notice that they, according to the directions of the said act, are ready to receive THREE POOR BOYS, to be bound apprentices to Andrew Estave, who is to teach them the art of cultivating vines, and making wine.

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

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

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

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

VINEYARD, near Williamsburg, March 10, 1773

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most obliged humble Servant,

“…an Object of the greatest probable Utility to this Colony” March 11, 1773

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Within three weeks of the appearance of Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr’s article “Essay on the Utility of Vine Planting” the Virginia Gazette noted that he would receive 50 Pound Sterling per anum to pursue his experiment in the cultivation of foreign vines.  Throughout the year Andrew Estave and Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr. carried out a dialogue that appeared in the Virginia Gazette.

Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, March 11, 1773, Page 2

The Honourable the House of Burgesses, upon the Memorial of Robert Bolling, Esquire, of Buckingham, have directed the Treasurer to pay to that Gentleman fifty Pounds Sterling yearly, for the Term of five Years, in Order to enable him to prosecute his Scheme of cultivating Grapes, for the making of Wine; which he is convinced, from Experiments, may be propagated in the upper Parts of the Country, with singular Advantage to those possessed of such mountainous Lands as are scarcely fit for any other Purpose.  He has engaged a Foreigner, thoroughly acquainted with the Business, in all its Branches, to instruct him therein; which we heartily with Success to, as it appear to be an Object of the greatest probable Utility to this Colony.

The Experiment

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

There are relatively few articles related to Andre Estave’s early efforts at The Vineyard.  The first of several advertisements offering reward for runaway slaves from The Vineyard appeared October 22, 1772.

From the Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, Oct 22,1772, Page 3

RUN away from the Vineyard, near Williamsburg, a Negro Fellow named CUFFY, about thirty Years of Age, five Feet three or four  Inches high, had on a gray Coat and blue Waistcoat, and I imagine will endeavour to get to Norfolk.  Whoever bring the said Negro to me, or secures him in any jail, shall have TWENTY SHILLINGS Rewards, Besides what the Law allows.


While Andrew Estave was attempting to cultivate native vines at The Vineyard, Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr. was already convinced from his earlier efforts producing wine from native vines, that their were not suitable.  Instead he believed that Eurpean vines should be cultivated and on February 25, 1773 he published a long article to such affect.  As we shall see in a future post, several weeks after his article, Colonel Bolling, Jr. secured funding from the House of Burgesses to carryout his own experiments in cultivation.

Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, February 25, 1773, Page 1

Essay on the Utility of VINE PLANTING

In Virginia

Nullam, Vare, Facra vite prius feveris arborem,
Circa mite folum Tiburis et moenia atili.
Siccis omnia nam dura Deus propufuit.  Hom.

The Measure adopted by Government in the year 1769 is, at least in Theory, of as interesting a Nature as any which hath heretofore fallen under Contemplation, I mean that of a PUBLICK VINEYARD, if that Measure is, as I apprehend, the Ground Work of still greater Efforts; otherwise the one in Question appears but feeble for so flourishing a Community, considering what must have been the Views of its Promoters.

Before it is possible to form an accurate Judgment upon any Enterprise whatever, it is necessary to weigh its more immediate and more remote Consequences.  An Advance of Money is always odious to the People, and they are very like to blame their Representatives for such Advance unless they be convinced of its Utility.  The first Consequence of the above Measure is a publick Expense, and, if it be properly prosecuted, a continued Expense for several Years; yet I see no thing in the Gazettes to convince a Multitude of Persons (who, living sequestered on their Plantations, have not other Opportunities of Information) that their own Good alone is proposed.  To such, therefore, this Piece is directed; to such I would explain its, probably Tendency, and give my Ideas of the likeliest Plan to secure the most happy Effects therefrom.  However, as we are not likely to live long enough to see Wine any considerable Branch of our Exports, I shall consider it in a more limited View, as only sufficient for our own Consumption.  The Idea of the Advantages which would then accure needs only to be raised up to an Export, and that is sufficient for the present Purpose, and for the Persons for whom my Diligence is designed.  The better informed will receive no new Information; I request they will rectify my Errors.  Provided a publick Benefit arise, whoever is the Instrument shall always have my applause and Gratitude.  I intend well.  The Reader may rest assured I shall esteem it as a Favour to be prevented either from propagating Mischievous Opinions or promoting injudicious Measures.  At the same Time I solicit his Countennace in Support of whatever he may approve, not as a Favour to myself, but as a Duty to his Country.

We behold at this Time as most sever Contribution annually paid for Wine and Sprits to Madeira and the Islands of the West Indies, to the Amount we say (to be greatly within Bounds) of one Hundred Thousand Pounds.

Almost the whole Wines, and the best of the Spirits, are only to be found in opulent Families.  The Remainder, miserably bad, and of the most pernicious Quality, falls to the Lot of the interior People.

Let the Reader dwell a Moment on the Sum dispursed for those Articles; let him reflect what a Proportino of the Colony’s annual Industry is required to furnish that Sum, whether it be not of Consequence to supply ourselves with wholesome generous Liquor at a tenth Part of the Expense, and what important Matters might be effected by the ninety Thousand Pounds saved.

If our Measures are taken with Prudence, the wine we make will be a clear Addition to the Country’s Produce, and in no Respect lessen the Exportation of Grain.  Grain will not bear the Expanse of distant Land Carriage.  Lands convenient to Navigation need not be planted with Vineyards; remote Lands may, and the Liquors will bear the Expense of Transportation any Where.

It will be granted that, caeteris paribus, the Opulent are Proprietors of rich Land, and the Indigent those whose Lands are otherwise.  As very rich Lands (unless perhaps Culture greatly enlarges the Quantity of Fluids in the Grape, which is yet uncertain) as very rich Lands, I say, produce a Grape too pulpy, the Must they make ferments to Excess, whence a thin acid Liquor.  The fertile low Grounds will not, therefore, be employed in that Manner; nor will, as I conceive, the Government bestow Attention on them, or even on the rich high Grounds, unless remote from a Landing.  Our Business is to better our Condition.  Now we shall not better our Condition by applying our fine Grain and Tobacco Lands, which so amply reward the Cultivator, to any other than the present Purpose; nor will the Proprietors of such Lands be easily prevailed upon to change their Object.  It follows, then, that our poorer Lands, our remote high Lands and Mountains, are the proper Objects of Government’s Attention; which is the same Thing, in other Words, as to say, that the Scheme is calculated in a singular Manner for the Benefit of the poorer People: The Value of their Plantations will rise almost to that of the richest; large Tracts, at present desolate, will be filled with happy Families, now obliged to seek their Fortunes beyond the Mountains, to the present Loss and future Danger of the Colony; a small Tract will suffice a large Family; every Person in it will be usefully employed in the earliest and most agreeable of all Kinds of Culture; Provisions for several Children will be rendered easier than it now is for a single one; in Process of Time Slaves may be Prohibited from working in Vineyards; the Business will become honourable; the Poor be secured in a plentiful Subsistence; our Numbers, our Riches, our commercial Importance, and general Happiness, increased beyond Conception.  I will add, that we shall become a more hardy and manly Race of People, when our Constitutions are no longer jaundiced, nor our Juices vitiated by abominable West India Distillations, rendered still more detestable by our own fraudulent Mixtures.  If the Reader smile at the Observation, let however its Importance be considered.  Such are the Advanced, the Foundations of which was laid by the Establishment of a public Vineyard.

When the Proposition was agitated in the House of Burgesses, several Members were tender of their People, and averse from running them to any Sort of Expense.  There are whole Knowledge is inferior to their Goodness of Heart, but whole Understandings, naturally good, are open to Conviction, and very ready to restract an Errour of which they become sensible.  Though their Objections did not stifle, yet it is clear that it contrasted, the Measure.  The Government voted four Hundred and fifty Pounds to effect a Purpose to which it was wholly inadequate; which, if effected, and expanded, would double the Colony’s present Value.  That Inconsistency in the Vote will surprise Nobody acquainted with large Assemblies.  A succeeding Assembly made a farther Allowance, and showed a good Disposition; but that Advance only supports the former circumscribed Plan.  Estave’s Abilities are still confined to a single Vineyard, when, with proper Assistants, he might superintend four or five; yet this Effort is put upon the Footing of an Experiment, and is probably intended, by many, to determine finally, as to them, the Practibility of rendering this a Wine Country.  When an Experiment fails, the Intention is usually dropped; there is a Please for ever against a farther Prosecution.  It may be ill made, it may fail by Accidents, which may not happen in another * Place, and yet afterwards the Country be pronounced improper for a Repetition thereof.  Let us consider then the real Nature of this Experiment.  Is it whether Wine is made of Grapes?  The Experiment, to analyse it properly, is, first, whether Andre Estave can raise a Vineyard a Mile below Williamsburg which shall furnish a sufficient Quantity of Grapes.  Secondly, whether he can produce therefrom a Wine wholesome and potable.  We may be disappointed in both those Objects, without any reasonable Presumption against the Country or Climate.  That good Wine can be made here, as well as in other Countries (between which there is no sensible Difference) may be considered as unquestionable.  Why then should we be discouraged though Andre Estave fail of what, it is said, he has to so promising a Prospect of performing!  Let us persevere, by unrem itted Trials, to bring the present Undertaking to Perfection.  Let us, with the utmost Expedition, provide Vineyards in various remote Counties, and in Places wehre it would be lost Labour to cultivate Tobacco.  Let Orphan and spurious Children be bound to the Managers, and let us procure foreign Viners, and Vines from the same Countries whence we draw our Viners; and not depend singly upon our own Vines, of which, though I approve of farther Experiments, I have, from two Experiments, but an ill Opinion.  If they be proper for making the finest Wines, it is purely fortunate; but how little is that to be expected when no Experience of their Finess led to a Preference of them to any other?  Let us, without neglecting our own, imitate those who have profited by foreign Advantages.  The Wine of the Cape is made from Vines brought originally from Champagne, Canary from Vines of the Rhine, Madeira from those of Candia.  We may try the different Sorts of Vines among us, of which we have imported great Variety.  In a Country like this, it is honourable for Government to have always one or more great publick Objects.  What Country was ever more capable of Improvement?  What Object more interesting than to turn to Account such a Quantity of Acres as, as present, so far from being cultivated, remain unpatented and unentered?  The Cultivation of the Vine should be the Aim of our most serious Counsels and active Industry.  Will is cause an Expense?  I am willing to pay my Proportion, sure to be rewarded a Thousand Fold in the Good that will befall either myself, my Children, my Fellow Citizens, or all together.  If you are of a different Opinion, consider yourself as liable to be mistaken.   You may be right, perhaps; but if you prevent a Measure actually prudent and beneficial, and in the Degree suggested, consider whether the Birth of any Mortal was more pernicious to his Country than yours to your Country.  It is frequency the Lot of useful Propositions to be received with Derision; it requires some Capacity to comprehend all their Advantages; but where is the Ideot who cannot sneer?  Had the Persons who deried a Proposition made to the Assembly by the late Honourable William Beverley, Esquire, for the Education of certain Viners and Oil Pressers, had they, I say, never existed, the Country might at this Day not have an Effort to make towards introducing, may perhaps not towards perfecting, the former Business.  As the Project was then neglected, it behoves us to postpone it no longer.  Let the Remoteness of the Advantages make no Impression; it is an unpatriotic Consideration.  We are in no Danger of wearing out Time; with Time, they are infallible.  The King would remit his Quitrents, the Country its Taxes, I doubt not, for the Encouragement of Particulars, for a Time limited yet the Publick should rely on no private Endeavours.  Particulars can scarcely lose their Labour for several Years, unless with a reasonable Certainty of afterwards having their Vintage treated with Judgement, so as to reward their Sedulity and Patience.  The Government, if ever zealous to render this a Vine Country, must be at the Expense of providing or training Viners, and then we shall have Plenty of Vineyards.  Raisins are as easily made as any Thing of their Utility, and they would soon become common (See Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, published by Owen).  The Greek Wines of the Archipelago are esteemed delicious.  The Russian Fleet has filled several of those Islands with Tumult and Distraction.  The Russian are favoured by the Greek Inhabitants, and are in Alliance with the King.  An Agent sent from hence might obtain Letters from the Ministry, and from the Russian Ambassadour at London to the Russian Admiral up the Mediterranean, and by his Means easily procure Vines and Viners from Naxos, Lesbos, Chios, Tenedos.  If that Attempt be Thought too arduous and expensive (as a Ship must be hired on Purpose, and the Plague is in the Neighbourhood) still great Facilities might be had in Tuscany by Means of the British Resident at Florence.  Vines cultivated on the Appenine, it is morally certain, would succeed in our back Country.  There is no sensible Difference between the Air of Tuscany and Virginia.

Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, February 25, 1773, Page 2

The great Number of English Gentlemen who reside at Florence, and spend much Money there, would give great Weight to an Application for Leave to engage Viners; and the more, as the Loss of the Viners would be the sole Inconvenience Tuscany would sustain, no Wines coming thence to America.  Those Viners should by no Means be mere Adventurers, they should be worthy Country People, qualified each for the Superintendence of four Vineyards.  Their Wages would undoubtedly be high, as the Service refereed to them would be important.  Four Time the Number of Labourers might also be engaged, acquainted with Pruning and other Branches of Culture; to be employed at the Recommendation of the former, as proper to carry on the Business in their Absence, and follow Directions.  Their Wages need not exceed ten Pounds Sterling.  I should also greatly recommend a few Viners from Champagne, though I believe the Italian and Greek Wines more pleasant, and more agreeable to our Constitutions; but I should never approve of introducing those Wines where are exported from Bourdeaux, or any like them.  Why, when endeavouring to introduce Wine into the Country, should we depend upon mere Accident for the Kind?  Or why introduce those Guienne and Gascon Wine so universally decried by the French themselves, as to obtain no better Appellation from them than that d’un Breauvage detestable, xtremely, detestable Drink?  Here I rest the Matter at present.  Having heard that Members of the Assembly desired to know the Sentiments of the People upon the above Subject, I give my Sentiments as one of the Number; at the same Time I endeavour to fulfill the End of my Writing, that of informing my retired Countrymen.  I recommend to all Freeholders to explain their Sentiments upon publick Vineyards to their Representatives, that they may be free to act in the Matter, without having their virtuous Conduct arraigned in their Counties by a Set of officious Fellows, who, conscious of their Inability to do the least Service, take a malignant Pride in exciting Suspicions against and throwing Obstacles in the Way of those who can be serviceable.


R. BOLLING, Junior.


P.S. Among the incidental Advantages that may be derived from what is above recommended, the Reader may give a Glance to the following:

1. To Great Britain. An easier Purchase of Madeira Wine, by the Diminution of the Demand from America.

2. A greater Demand from America of British Manufactures, as we should have wherewith to purchase in greater Plenty.

3. To this Country.  The Introduction of Glass blowers. [The Counties of Northampton, Accomack, and Princess Anne, might supply Kelp in Abundance.]

4. An easier Communication, north and south, between the different Parts of the Colony, with all the advantages of internal Commerce.  A ready Sale of [unreadable], etc. which will in Time be neglected by the Viners.

5. Great Value to remote indifferent and mountainous Lands, and to Timber proper for Staves.  [unreadable] of small Plantations, and consequently a great Increase of their Number; Detentions of the Poor from migrating to the Western Wa[unreadable] Advantages chiefly mention before, but which can never be too well considered, or too often repeated) whence, in Time, Towns replete with Tradesmen, Manufactures, Artists, Men of Science, &c. &c. whence, in fine, a great and flourishing People of inestimable Value to the Mother Country, and elsewhere the surest of her Protection.