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Category: Object Overview

Wine History Project Collection

Collecting and preserving the artifacts that tell the story of the people, families, and businesses that have grown grapes and made wine in the region.

Getting An Education In California Winemakers By Reading The Judgment Of Paris 1976 Book by George Taber: Comparing The David And Judy Breitstein Historical California Wine Collection To The Scorecard For The Judgment Of Paris 1976

In April 2024 the David and Judy Breitstein historic collection catalog was highlighted on the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County’s website. The catalog contains nearly 200 significant bottles of wine from California’s wine history: a collection which the Breitsteins’ assembled over more than 50 years of collecting.

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The Historical Maps From The Wine History Project Collection Document The Soil In SLO County In 1928

A coordinated effort of national soil mapping began in the United States in 1899. It began with a nationwide partnership of federal, regional, state, and local agencies, private entities, and universities. This idea of a soil survey in our country, some say originated with Milton Whitney, a professor of geology and soil physics at the Maryland Agricultural College and a physicist at the Experiment Station. He published a paper in 1892, “Some Physical Properties of Soils in Relation to Moisture and Crop Distribution” in which he examined a number of soils.

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Nicolas Catalogues

Etienne Nicolas (1870-1960) guided the Nicolas stores after 1922 through a major expansion after World War I. For one thing, he purchased quarries in Charenton outside of Paris which would house the substantial reserve stocks of Bordeaux and other French wines acquired by the firm.

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See What You Missed: Artifact Objects Which Might Have Been Used By Italian Winemakers And Growers

Throughout 2023 the Wine History Project presented an exhibit How the Italians Changed the Landscape and Wine Culture of San Luis Obispo County: 1900 to the Present. It opened January 27, 2023 in the Wine History Gallery at the Paso Robles History Museum. Here are the objects from our collections which were displayed in that exhibit.

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An International Hit: The Successful American Platform Scale

Each grapevine will produce about 10 pounds of grapes. It has always been important to know what the yield is from the vineyards. Weighing the grapes is essential also because grapes sell today for thousands per ton. More grapes are being shipped through interstate commerce. Commercial sales are under the jurisdiction of the government, and there are a host of rules and regulations. There are legalities of being “commercially compliant.”

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Artifact Donations to the Dana Adobe

The Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County is always looking for places to showcase the wonderful historic objects which contributed to the settlement of California and the development of a wine culture in the county. What better place than one of the earliest Ranchos in the area? The Mexican government controlled Alta California from 1832 to 1846. The settlement of the this California territory was encouraged by granting large land areas to native-born and naturalized Mexican citizens. These land grants granted permanent ownership to male citizens. Mexico issued 27 permanent land grants between 1833 and 1846. These ranchos with land boundaries were mapped and became the basis for the California land survey system. The ranchos were devoted to raising cattle and sheep and agriculture.

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To Plow Or Not To Plow

The horse drawn plow. We’ve all seen it, at least in photographs in the history books. There’s a sort of magic to the image of plowing the land. An illusion mostly. Eventually the horse drawn plow was replaced with engine power. Why?

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WHP Enology Collection Objects: #3 Sikes’ Hydrometer

The science series of the Wine History Project continues with an article about the hydrometer, and specifically the Sikes’ hydrometer that is part of our important collection of objects of all things related to wine. This is the third object to be researched of the six object which we have collected relating to enology.

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Wine Lists from Maison Nicolas, France

One quarter (25%) of the Nicolas Catalogues have been scanned into our WHP Collection archives by our archivist, Daniel Anderson. Can you guess the artists for each one? Here are the options you have: Charles Loupot, Paul Iribe, Roger Limouse, Bernard Buffet, Claude Schurr, Maurice Savin, Maurice-Elie Sarthou, Andre Derain

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History In Person – Using Digital, Exhibit, Research, and Video Methodologies

A collection is a group of things and often that group is created by someone. As an example, many children have a collection of comic books. They have gathered or collected these comic books and with every year as they get older the collection gets larger, and later may be forgotten. The same is true of many collections. Today, the most popular collectibles are coins, stamps, baseball pins, vinyl records, toys, trading cards, and wine.

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“Punching the Cap”

The winemaking process starts by placing the harvest of fruit in a vessel of the winemaker’s choice. Yeast cells on the skins of the grapes are added by the winemaker to metabolize the grape’s sugar producing ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. In the fermentation process, the grape’s natural color, aroma, and flavor are changed.

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Wine Becomes Art

On display at the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County office at 3592 Broad Street, Suite 104 in San Luis Obispo is an exhibit that features a variety of sizes of wine bottles, demi-jons, bungs, books, artwork, and a very small barrel exclaiming that wine and art are interwoven throughout culture.

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A Brief Explanation Of The Preservation Movement Both In The United States And California

Beginning in 1953, the idea of an Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) happened with the establishment of the History Section of the Division of Beaches and Parks. The Office of Historic Preservation was officially established eventually in 1975 within the offices of the Director of California State Parks and was the outgrowth of the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 which called for the creation of a state agency to implement provisions of the law.

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Effective Traditional Winemaking Tools for Georgian Qvevri Vessels

Traditional winemaking tools are still in use today in the country of Georgia. In contrast to California’s modern winemaking machinery, and even to the 18th and 19th century tools in our Collection at the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County, these wooden pitchforks, gourds, slabs of cherry bark, and other tools are still in use when it comes to winemaking using qvevris.

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Collections: The Breitstein Collection David and Judy Breitstein, Founders of the Duke of Bourbon Wine and Spirits in Canoga Park, California Wine History 1967 – 1997 Vine-Line Newsletters Archived by the Wine History Project – July 2022

The California Wine Revolution started over 50 years ago. It was a time when a generation of men and women came of age and found their own voices. They embraced the arts, social change, civil rights, politics, culinary arts, athletics, the environment, and the freedom to break with the past and create their own choices.

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Italian Swiss Colony Founded In California In 1881

The Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County has four rare “Chromos” in their Collection. I will explain. These rare art pieces on exhibit in our Broad Street offices were created from artwork by E. Zampighi at the beginning of the twentieth century. They have been properly framed by a qualified conservator trained in conservation framing techniques. I will provide a diagram later of proper techniques to achieve good preservation of historic documents or artwork.

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Snip Me a Grape…

Our ancient ancestors considered grapes, along with wine that was made from the grapes, essential for proper digestion and good health. Grapes were a prominent feature in ancient Greek and Roman mythology as shown in paintings on pottery vessels. Frescoes painted 5,000 years ago in Egyptian tombs show the harvest of vineyards and the process of winemaking. Archaeologists are providing evidence that grapes have been enjoyed by humans for pretty much the whole of human existence…

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Grapes Mean Money; Tokay Means More Money

While measuring, photographing, looking for distinguishing marks on the various barrels in the Wine History Project’s collection, I stumbled upon a barrel marked with TOKAY. Here are some interesting tidbits of history from what might be behind the life of our barrels.

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Funnels

This well-known tool has been made from almost everything from paper to stone. Our collection has six wonderful examples of various types of funnels once used in wineries or home winemaking. Read about the variety of funnels and the materials used in their construction and available “back in the day.”

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Stencil Wheel

From the late 1800s until the 1950s, grapes were sent to local markets mostly by wooden baskets, boxes or crates. A method was needed to legibly label crates and barrels. Here we look at tool to do just that.

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Vine Dusting Spraying

A division in the wine industry became evident; some “chemists” rejected the grafting solution that was determined to solve the destruction. They persisted with the use of pesticides and chemicals for the vineyards. I’m going to discuss in this article tools that were utilized to dust or spray those pesticides and chemicals on vineyards.

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Chamfers, Knives, and Shaves

This article continues on the same venue as the previous article written on “Chiv, Croze, or Howel,” in describing the hand tools used by coopers. The date range represented by these chamfers, knives, and shave tools in the Wine History Project’s collection are from the early 1800s through 1910.

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Spigots and Taps

Spigots control the flow of liquid from a large container and have been in use since ancient Greeks and Romans installed them in their bathhouses. The Wine History Project’s collection includes twelve different objects actively utilized between 1860 and 1910.

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Corking Tools

Wine bottles get corked, with corks made of cork. This wasn’t always the case; but when it became important for better wine storage and delivery, the dilemma to be solved was how could one insert and fix a cork into a wine bottle easier?

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Prohibition Stills and Mash

Gallon stills, bottles, malt syrup, corn sugar, corn syrup, hops, yeast, bottle cappers, and concentrated grapes were legally sold in hardware and grocery stores. Licensed doctors were permitted to prescribe distilled spirits, wine, and whiskey as treatments for ailments, with a limitation of one pint every ten days.

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Protective Service Membership Signs

In the 1920s, the formation of associations and co-ops was widespread in America. Many voluntary citizen cooperatives banded together to solve the problems of crime and lobbying for legislation. Agricultural publishing organizations created membership groups that kept farmers informed and connected them with a larger community

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Prohibition: Fruit Industries, Ltd.

Fruit Industries, Ltd. was a non-profit, co-operative agricultural association organized in 1929 with the merger of several winemaking concerns, including the California Wine Association, into a single organization in an effort to bring order to the then chaotic California grape industry.

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Yankee No. 7 Bar-mounted Cork Puller and Re-Corker, circa 1910

The bar-mounting corkscrew is a fascinating tool that had multiple upgrades with many patents in its evolvement. A general description would say that the clamps hold the bottle in place and the helix, in one up and down motion, extracts the cork from the bottle. They are screwed or clamped to the counter. Most early mounted corkscrews were designed to open beer bottles with short corks. Modern ones are made for longer wine corks.

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Woodman’s Bingham Bee Smoker, circa 1910

Where once plants were a negative competition for the vines, many growers are now more aware of creating an ecosystem in their vineyards that is the foundation for a holistic approach. Because of the healthy ecosystem, it seems that bees are now encouraged to come and feed on the pollen. The discovery has been that bees encourage beneficial insects and discourage the need for chemicals and pesticides. This is a dramatic shift.

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Gaskell & Chambers Barrel Depth Measure, c 1910

This tool, also known as a barrel dipstick or dipping rule, was used to measure barrel depth and calculate the container volume. It includes six rods in a leather-case that when joined together form a single 60-inch rod. Each individual ten-inch boxwood rod is capped with metal fittings that allow the pieces to be screwed together

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Nicolas House Annual Wine Catalogues

In order to drink wine in the nineteenth century and during the reign of Louis XVIII (monarch of the House of Bourbon, King of France 1814 – 1824), one had to drink it on the spot in cabarets or wine shops. To drink wine at home, the option was to buy a barrel of wine from a merchant. A man named Louis Nicolas, created the concept of bottled wine that transformed the habits of consumption.

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About Our Collection

The Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo has a collection from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries that includes: advertising posters, audio tapes, signs and catalogs, barrels and puncheons, books, bottle dryers, cellar tools, cooper tools, corkers and cork presses, corkscrews, enology meters and instruments, ephemera, grape crushers, grape presses, scales, spigots and taps, vineyard tools, funnels, personal family papers, photographs, pipettes, transfer pumps, augers, videos, and wine bottles.

LEFT: Cindy Lambert, Collections Manager, processing corkscrew collection