Wines, Brandies, and Vinous Products – Part 3

Meanwhile, in 1878 the Mechanics’ Institute was conducting special research on the wine industry with the help of a wine expert from Australia, Rev. John J. Bleasdale. Bleasdale visited vintners up and down the state taking samples of their wines for scientific analysis. In blind trials the wines were judged according to a 20 point system by Date of vintage, Color of sample, Condition, Flavor, Bouquet, Body, and Acidity felt to the palate. The wines were then given a final score of 3, 2 or 1 with 1 being the best. A report was drawn up in time for the 1878 Exhibition that explained each wines’ merits and how the properties of the soil, water, and variety of grapes affected the final product. This is the standard by which future Exhibitions would judge wine. The...

Wines, Brandies, and Vinous Products – Part 2

As you can see by 1869 the grape crop was huge in comparison to the other fruits grown in California. Even the State’s signature fruit, the orange is surpassed by the grape. 1869 would see the consumption of wine grow to 5,000,000 gallons and brandy’s consumption would grow to 200,000 gallons. At the fairs, we start to see wines from Nevada City, Sonoma, Martinez, Napa, Santa Clara. The 1868 and 1869 fairs looked like this inside, again taken by our favorite photographer Eadward Muybridge. Note the central fountain, it was a wonderful place to people watch. 600,000 people would attend the 1868 fair.  Right next to the fountain in the back is Martinelli’s Cider display – always a party pleaser, back then his cider was even more fun, it was alcoholic! The fair...

Wines, Brandies, and Vinous Products at the Mechanics’ Institute’s Industrial Expositions, 1857-1899 – Part 1

On October 23, 2014 I gave a talk at the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society’s Grapes of Past event about the wine industry of San Francisco as it was reflected in the 31 Industrial Expositions of the Mechanics’ Institute. These expositions took place between the years of 1857 and 1899 and were marvelous “snapshots” of the city and state’s burgeoning industrial output. The following posts will be the text of Wines, Brandies, and Vinous Products at the Mechanics’ Institute’s Industrial Expositions, 1857-1899. Thanks for having me tonight. I’m Taryn Edwards, I’m one of the Librarians on staff at the Mechanics’ Institute of San Francisco – one of the oldest libraries in the West, the oldest chess club in the United States, and...