Winemaking at Local Cellars During the 1879 Crush

Summarized from the St. Helena Star, October 3, 1879
by Mariam Hansen

John C. Weinberger (today William Cole Winery) is crushing his grapes, plus those grown by W. H. Castner, E. M. York, Thomas Greer, James Cruey, A. H. Buehren, Georg Breitenbuecher, G. L. Benner, and Mr. Bell. He expects to make about 40,000 gallons, compared with 50,000 last year. He thinks that it would be better if more grape growers made their own wine, since it would be more profitable.

Jean Laurent (today Markham Winery) expects to make 50,000 gallons this year, compared with 40,000 last year. He crushes his own grapes, plus those of John Greer, John S. Kister, Seneca Ewer, Mrs. George Gibson, Frederick West, and David Edwards.

Fritz Rosenbaum (today St. Clement Winery) has no regular winery but is crushing his own grapes, deeming it better than selling them. He has 16 acres of bearing vines—all Riesling and Zinfandel—making about 3,500 gallons.

Charles Krug has his own extensive vineyards, but also crushes the grapes of G. B. Worrell, George Pratt, Dean York, Owen Wade, David Cole, Mr. Kellet, George Tucker, Philander Kellogg, Mr. McFarling, Mr. Hegele, J. W. Sayward, Henry Lange, J. J. Dickinson, Abram Clock, J. Cleghorn, John York, Mr. Ingram, D. B. Carver, A. K. Maguire, Dr. Allyn, Mrs. Shamp, and others. He thinks his production will not exceed 175,000 gallons, compared to 225,000 gallons last year.

Beringer Brothers expect to make 65,000 gallons, compared to 100,000 last year. In addition to their own grapes, they crush those of J. K. Hall, Henry Richards, Peter Conter, Mr. Barrett, Mrs. Tainter, P. R. Sheehan, S. T. Hammonds, C. M. Hitchcock, Mr. Davis, Mrs. A. J. Pope, Mr. Christy, Bart Sheehan, and others.

Beretta Brothers crush only their own grapes, producing 4,000 gallons this year. They have an 18-acre vineyard, of which 12 acres are bearing young vines. Soon they will have a larger crop.

Conrad Wegele has a vineyard of 15,000 foreign vines and crushes his own grapes. His product this year is 6,000 gallons, compared to 7,500 last year. His grape crop is four-fifths of what it was last year.

Charles Lemme crushes only his own grapes and expects to make 12,000 gallons. He has 25 acres of bearing grapes and 5 not bearing. He will plant 30 more acres next spring. He intends to build a road across the canyon that separates him from his neighbors so that he can get the grapes from other vineyards to his winery. His house is 3-½ miles from town and 1,160 feet above the bay.

Jacob Schram has been settled in his well-known location for 20 years and has a vineyard of 60,000 vines lying 500 feet above the valley. He is not touched by frost and has a full crop. About a third of the vineyard was planted by Peter Conter, who leased the land from Schram. Those grapes go to the Beringer Brothers. All but 3,000 of the vines are foreign varieties.

Louis Kortum, the only winemaker in Calistoga, is using the grapes of John Greer, Mr. Kellett, Calvin Holmes, Mr. Simmons, Mr. Horm, and Mr. Hunt to make 20,000 gallons.

Mariam Hansen is Research Director for the St. Helena Historical Society.