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Historic Photographs of Grapevines in Illinos

September 17, 2014 Leave a comment

The photographs featured in today’s post are sourced from the American Environmental Photographs 1891-1936 collection.  This collection features photographs taken by American botanists who sought to capture the diverse American topography.  The photographs were taken by Henry Chandler Cowles, George Damon Fuller, and other Chicago ecologists.  The Chicago location might explain why most of the grapevine photographs were taken in Illinois.

Vitis planted on a hillside [at a] Nauvoo, Illinois vineyard. [1]

Vitis planted on a hillside [at a] Nauvoo, Illinois vineyard. [1]

I am particularly captivated by the last two pictures in this post because they bear a connection to earlier posts in the history of wine.  The second image of Vitis vulpina shows the long, thick grapevine coiling up into the trees.  If you look closely you will see a man standing in the shadows.  There are descriptions of grapes vines climbing up trees in many of the 17th century accounts that I have read.  For example I noted how Louis Hennepin wrote of the trees “cover’d with Vines, whose Grapes are very big and sweet” in my post “our Vat was a Bark-Pail”: An Account of 17th Century Wine Making in Canada.

Vitis vulpina, Bethel Hollow, Pope County, Illinois. [2]

Vitis vulpina, Bethel Hollow, Pope County, Illinois. [2]

In the post An Example of Colonial Winemaking Located in What was Briefly Maryland I quoted Colonel John Jones who wrote in 1776 of  the “immense quantity of these vines growing on the beach open to the sea”.  He did not describe what these beach vines looked like but due to the picture of Dune remnants I now have a mental image.  Has anyone see other pictures of grapevines growing on dunes or beaches?

Dune remnants with grapevine smothering Pine, Miller, Indiana. [3]

Dune remnants with grapevine smothering Pine, Miller, Indiana. [3]


[1] Vitis planted on a hillside [at a] Nauvoo, Illinois vineyard. American Environmental Photographs Collection, [AEP Image Number, AEP-ILS294], Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library.  URL: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.award/icuaep.ils294
[2] Vitis vulpina, Bethel Hollow, Pope County, Illinois. American Environmental Photographs Collection, [AEP Image Number, AEP-ILS35], Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library.  URL: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.award/icuaep.ils35
[3] Dune remnants with grapevine smothering Pine, Miller, Indiana. American Environmental Photographs Collection, [AEP Image Number, AEP-INN151], Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library. URL: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.award/icuaep.inn151

Pouring wine from a barrel in a Roman marble found in Spain

September 16, 2014 1 comment

This Roman marble plaque show Sentia Amarantis removing a stopper from a barrel of wine in order to fill up a jug.  The plaque itself is a fragment thus the epigraph is incomplete.  Still, the details are fantastic.  The barrel itself rests on two horizontal beams each held up by a pair of straight legs.  The barrel is bound by three sets of hoops, made of two courses at the ends and three in the middle.  The heads are clearly recessed.  Sentia Amarantis appears to be pulling a stopper out of the head in order to fill the wine.  There is no clue as to what wine might be in the barrel but the facial expression is rather indifferent.  Do you know of other Roman marbles like this one?

Estela de SENTIA AMARANTIS - Lápida. 176-300. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte. [1]

Estela de SENTIA AMARANTIS – Lápida. 176-300. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte. [1]


[1] Estela de SENTIA AMARANTIS – Lápida. 176-300. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte. URL:  http://ceres.mcu.es/pages/Viewer?accion=4&AMuseo=MNAR&Museo=&Ninv=CE00676

Thomas Jefferson’s Price List of German vintages from 1726-1783 for the firm John Adam Dick & Son

September 15, 2014 Leave a comment
Frankfurt Am Main-Zeil-Rotes Haus-um 1790. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Frankfurt Am Main-Zeil-Rotes Haus-um 1790. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

James Gabler wrote of  Thomas Jefferson’s visit to Frankfurt, Germany in his book Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson.  During this visit Thomas Jefferson stayed at The Great Red House which was owned by John Adam Dick and Son.  These merchants had a massive cellar with 375,000 to 500,000 bottles worth of wine.  We are fortunate that Thomas Jefferson kept the price list for it reveals the vintages of 1783-1726 available from “Hochheim, Rudesheim, Johannesberg, Markebronn, Nierstein Laubern & Bodenheim” [sic].  It is one thing to read about the list yet another to see it so I have included an image below for you to look at.  And yes, Thomas Jefferson did drink the 1726 Hochheim.

Dick John Adam & Son, 1784-89, Card Listing Wine Prices. Library of Congress. [1]

Dick John Adam & Son, 1784-89, Card Listing Wine Prices. Library of Congress. [1]


[1] The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827. Dick John Adam & Son, 1784-89, Card Listing Wine Prices. The Library of Congress.  URL: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib000997

“French Supersubmarine Is More Deadly Than Cruiser” and It Even Carried Wine

September 12, 2014 1 comment
The French submarine Surcouf. c. 1936. Wikimedia.

The French submarine Surcouf. c. 1936. Wikimedia.

The French submarine Surcouf was launched in 1929 in direct response to the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.  This treaty placed a limit on naval construction to prevent an arms race in the post World War I years.  The limits were placed on surface ships, restricting both total displacement and the caliber of the guns.  The French sought to exploit the lack of restrictions on submarines by commissioning what was in effect an undersea cruiser.  This submarine did not go unnoticed for there are dozens of articles about the launching in American newspapers.  These articles bore such titles as “France Will Launch Greatest Submarine”.[1]

Wine stowage just forward of the 550mm torpedoes. Image from Serivce Historique de la Defense. [4]

Wine stowage just forward of the 550mm torpedoes. Image from Serivce Historique de la Defense. [4]

At 400 feet in length she was the size of a light cruiser and larger than any American and British submarine.  She was armored to a degree like a surface ship, carried four 5.5 inch guns as well as torpedo tubes.  She even had a watertight hanger with a seaplane.  This “undersea dreadnaught” or “French monster” could travel halfway around the world at 13 knots without refueling.[2]  Within the hull was space for 8 officers and 110 men including 90 days worth of provisions.

Wine stowage just forward of the 550mm torpedoes. Service Historique de la Defense. [4]

Wine stowage just forward of the 550mm torpedoes. Service Historique de la Defense. [4]

The French navy allowed for wine in their rations and this was not neglected in the Surcouf.  Just forward of the reserve 550mm torpedoes was stowage for 5.2 tons or 5200 liters of wine.  This capacity would provide half a liter of wine per man per day for all 90 days.  Given that the daily French naval ration was half a liter there would be no wine for any of the 40 prisoners she could carry.[3]

Would you want your wine to come out of one of these tubes? Surcouf inside.  Image from sub-driver.com. [5]

Would you want your wine to come out of one of these tubes? Surcouf inside. Image from sub-driver.com. [5]


[1] Date: Sunday, December 23, 1928 Paper: Omaha World Herald (Omaha, NE) Page: 13
[2]Date: Sunday, November 3, 1929 Paper: Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, WA) Page: 12
[3] The National Review, Volume 45. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=11NWAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[4] The plans were originally available at Service Historique de la Defense. URL: http://www.servicehistorique.sga.defense.gouv.fr/
[5] There are a few dozen great images in the thread “New info on surcouf”. Sub-Driver.com. URL: http://forum.sub-driver.com/showthread.php?1499-New-info-on-surcouf/page7

Satire on the adulteration of wine in Spain (1916)

September 10, 2014 Leave a comment

The image in today’s post featured a satirical post card about the adulteration of wine in Spain.[1]  At the front of the store hangs the sign “Vinos Legitimos de Valdepenas”.  A bartender is pouring a glass of wine from barrel and another man is drinking his glass of wine.  No doubt the customers believe they are drinking real wine.  Behind the barrels is a man creating the fake wine.  It is made from a blend of cat blood, donkey blood, powdered alcohol, liquid water, as well as the toxic aniline and campeche to color the wine.  While the ingredients are somewhat tongue-in-cheek the inclusion of campeche is probably correct as it is listed as a colorant of Spanish wine in 1877.[2]  Be careful drinking those century old vintages from unknown producers!

Adulteración del vino. ca. 1916. [1]

Adulteración del vino. ca. 1916. [1]


[1] Adulteración del vino. ca. 1916. Post card.  Memoria de Madrid. URL: http://www.memoriademadrid.es/buscador.php?accion=VerFicha&id=35755
[2] Estudio sobre la exposicion vinicola nacional de 1877. 1878. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=iVa03ssypyoC&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Vineyards in the cadastral maps of Oedheim (1780)

September 9, 2014 7 comments

If you enjoy both German wine and the history of wine then chances are you have heard of the Saar und Mosel Weinbau-Karte published by the Trier Public Library and available from Lars Carlberg.  This map is particularly important because it ranks vineyards based on net profit.  German archives are full of vineyards maps.  Today’s post featured three maps from the Flurkartenatlas über den Ort Oedheim (1780) which is a bound atlas for Oedheim.  Oedheim is a small town in Baden-Württemberg which is located in the south west of Germany.   The atlas contains cadastral maps which are a specific type that reflect a comprehensive survey of the land.  The maps highlight all property boundaries as well as differentiating between land use such as vineyards, meadows, and forests.  Geographic features, bridges, roads, and buildings are also included.  All of this information was used both for ownership and taxation purposes.

Tractus VI: "Von N(ume)ro 2347 usqu(e) 2734 incluse: begreiffet in sich Aecker und Wiesen in der Au, beim Mutzenberg, dann Weinberg und Aecker im Mutzenberg an der Degmarner Marckung". Landesarchivs Baden-Württemberg.  [1]

Tractus VI: “Von N(ume)ro 2347 usqu(e) 2734 incluse: begreiffet in sich Aecker und Wiesen in der Au, beim Mutzenberg, dann Weinberg und Aecker im Mutzenberg an der Degmarner Marckung”. Landesarchivs Baden-Württemberg. [1]

The Saar und Mosel Weinbau-Karte spans a large region so it differentiates more at the per-vineyard level.  The maps from Flurkartenatlas über den Ort Oedheim show individual property holdings within specific vineyards.  I find this detail fantastic! If you take a close look, the individual holdings give you a sense of the topography.

Tractus VII: "Von N(ume)ro 2901 usqu(e) ad N(ume)rum 3186 incluse: enthaltet in sich das sammtliche Feld gegen Kochendorf, im Ranzenloch genannt, die Weinberge in der Klückenhalden und Hofäcker". Landesarchivs Baden-Württemberg. [2]

Tractus VII: “Von N(ume)ro 2901 usqu(e) ad N(ume)rum 3186 incluse: enthaltet in sich das sammtliche Feld gegen Kochendorf, im Ranzenloch genannt, die Weinberge in der Klückenhalden und Hofäcker”. Landesarchivs Baden-Württemberg. [2]

Tractus XXIII: "jenseits dem Kocher von N(ume)ro 570 usqu(e) ad N(ume)rum 982 incluse: begreifet in sich Wiesen und Gaertten im Fahr Aecker, Weinberg und Baumgaertten im Kochersberg, die Uhrigsaecker und der Salle, dann das Banzische Waeldlein und einige Wiesen im Balzig". Landesarchivs Baden-Württemberg. [3]

Tractus XXIII: “jenseits dem Kocher von N(ume)ro 570 usqu(e) ad N(ume)rum 982 incluse: begreifet in sich Wiesen und Gaertten im Fahr Aecker, Weinberg und Baumgaertten im Kochersberg, die Uhrigsaecker und der Salle, dann das Banzische Waeldlein und einige Wiesen im Balzig”. Landesarchivs Baden-Württemberg. [3]


[1] Tractus VI: “Von N(ume)ro 2347 usqu(e) 2734 incluse: begreiffet in sich Aecker und Wiesen in der Au, beim Mutzenberg,… / Bild 1. 1780. Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemberg. URL: http://www.landesarchiv-bw.de/plink/?f=1-772559-1
[2] Tractus VII: “Von N(ume)ro 2901 usqu(e) ad N(ume)rum 3186 incluse: enthaltet in sich das sammtliche Feld gegen Kochen… / Bild 1.  1780. Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemberg. URL: http://www.landesarchiv-bw.de/plink/?f=1-772561-1
[3] Tractus XXIII: “jenseits dem Kocher von N(ume)ro 570 usqu(e) ad N(ume)rum 982 incluse: begreifet in sich Wiesen und … / Bild 1.  1780. Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemberg. URL: http://www.landesarchiv-bw.de/plink/?f=1-772577-1

Distributing wine during the Spanish Civil War (1936)

September 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Here is a picture showing the distribution of wine to troops during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).  The wine has arrived in the back of a truck where it was transported in wicker covered glass demijohns.  The wine is poured from demijohn into the funnel of a small cask.  There are two more demijohns located in the foreground.

Reparto de vino para las tropas desde un camión. Manuel Coyne Buil. Zaragoza. 1936. [1]

Reparto de vino para las tropas desde un camión. Manuel Coyne Buil. Zaragoza. 1936. [1]


[1]Reparto de vino para las tropas desde un camión. Manuel Coyne Buil. Zaragoza. 1936. ES/AHPZ – MF/COYNE/006078. Archivo Histórico
Provincial de Zaragoza. Gobierno de Aragon.