Jim McCormick, delivering wine tools August 2018.
Chicken Coops and Wine Collections
August 13, 1918 was the first National Egg Day. Bert Kerrigan, a promoter, hired by the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce to capitalize on the chicken mania at the time, declared it so. An amazingly profitable industry was introduced to Petaluma in 1879 all because Lyman Byce invented the first successful incubator for hatching eggs. Eventually, Petaluma became the undisputed world leader of the chicken and egg industry. Kerrigan also declared the town “The Egg Basket of the World” and created the first Egg Parade, led by the Egg Queen. Hundreds of chicken farms dotted the landscape around town.
Petaluma is important in our story, because it is where Jim McCormick houses the Wine and Vine Things Collection. Jim has been collecting wine artifacts and antiquities for over 30 years. He has shown his collection online as a “virtual museum” since 2008 and has also created a catalog detailing the collection that can be viewed at his website. McCormick’s 4,500 items in the collection nearly spawned a museum in Santa Rosa, but the plans for a California Wine Museum fell through.
The Wine History Project became aware of this collection because of a popular cable television show, “American Pickers” on the History Channel. On the last Monday evening in April 2018, the “Ripe for the Picking” episode was broadcast with Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. These two guys travel the country “picking” people’s collections. On that night, they were “picking” Jim McCormick’s collection in Petaluma. Jim said on the show what he wanted most was for the items to “go to good homes.” He wanted them to be used for educating the public about the history of wine. Guess who was watching? We were. So we contacted Jim McCormick and discussed with him the possibility of taking a look at his collection. He agreed!
So now, after two visits to Petaluma and touring the chicken coops where he houses his collection, we have come back to San Luis Obispo County with a fantastic collection for use in accomplishing our mission at the Wine History Project. We have California wine artifacts dating from the early days in the 1860s through the 1920s Prohibition days. These categories include: period advertising, cellar tools, cooper tools, corkers and cork presses, enology equipment that demonstrates the science of wine making, ephemera, unique styles of grape crushers and presses, spigots and barrel taps, vineyard tools, vintage funnels, wine thief pipettes, wine vat and barrel tools.
Well, it’s been one hundred years since that first National Egg Day. We want to mark this historic day with the Wine History Project’s history in the making events. The pioneers of San Luis Obispo County and the immigrants that brought their primitive systems are acknowledged and validated in the tools that we now have in the Wine History Project Collection. They demonstrate the struggle of creating wine: tools that validate the amount of work and labor involved in bringing wine to your table.