This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The cultivation of the Grape has been attended with unparalleled success, even beyond that of the most prolific countries of Europe; but, owing to causes which have now become known, the manufacture of wine has not been attended with that success which should be warranted. Some outside parties have bought up cheap wines, doctored them up, and then thrown them upon the market, to the great discredit of those honorably engaged in the business. Capital is needed to develop. No fair test has yet been made, as sufficient time has not been allowed for the wine to attain a proper age; and it has been sent to market regardless of reputation, in order to realize for the outlay. Again, the great expense attending the manufacture of the wine in this country, the scarcity of capital, owing to the high rates of money, and storing it until it has attained a sufficient degree of perfection, have caused new and immature wines, improperly made, to be forced upon the market, to the great injury of the article in this country.
These errors will be avoided by time, experience, and study, and the business come under the control of parties sufficiently able, pecuniarily and otherwise, to carry it on safely and scientifically; then the evils will in a great measure be avoided, under which this business now suffers, and wines will be produced in this country which will not be inferior to foreign manufacture, but will even surpass them.
During a late trip to Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of visiting the prominent vineyards and wine manufacturing establishments for which this county is so famous. Some of my reports have already been published in the Stock Journal; and as many of your readers may have an interest in these matters, I will at this time give a brief sketch of the famous vineyard and orchard of Wm. Wolfskill, situated in the southern portion of the town, having inclosed some hundred and forty acres, a hundred and five of which are devoted to vineyard and orchard, and fifty-five acres to the vineyard alone.
This vineyard is the largest in the city, containing over one hundred thousand vines; ninety thousand vines being in bearing, and fifteen thousand two-year old vines. The crop of grapes the past season was over seven hundred thousand pounds.
In the orchard there are a large number of the most approved varieties of fruit trees, pear, peach, apple, plum, etc, all looking well; also figs, limes, citrons, walnuts, olives, oranges, etc., in profusion, and bearing full crops. The grounds are laid out with much taste and neatness. The crops of the English walnuts amount to from two to three thousand pounds, and are superior in flavor to those imported. These are sent to market, commanding about fifteen cents per pound. The olive trees were particularly attractive, from their fresh green foliage. These are long lived, hardier than other trees, and bear profusely. Among the tropical fruits, however, Mr. Wolfskill has devoted much time and care to the cultivation of the orange, having in bearing some forty large trees, which present a most beautiful appearance. There is besides an orchard of some two thousand more, about seven years old, and nearly in bearing. This is the largest and finest orange grove in the State. The fruit thrives well in the southern portion of the State, where the climate is warmer and more genial than in other portions.
The trees are in full bearing at fourteen years of age, and continue to the age of fifty or upwards. The earliest period of bearing is about the seventh year. The foliage Is beautiful and green the year round, and the trees are very bushy at the top, growing to the height of thirty to forty feet, and when in full bearing have often to be propped up, on account of the weight of fruit. They bear from one to three thousand oranges each, when in a healthy state, and the fruit commands a ready market and good price. Many of these trees have. netted Mr. W. from $100 to $150 each. The fruit commences to change color about November, and ripens about January to February. A disease has of late attacked the orange in the shape of a scale insect, called the Cocus Hesperidum, the ravages of which have much diminished the crops, as well as injured the trees, and no remedy has yet been found which has proved successful in their destruction. In some orange-growing countries, an insect which preys upon this has been introduced, which has destroyed the scale insect, and been the means of preserving the trees from the ravages which had proved so destructive.
I have much matter of interest connected with orange culture, which I will perhaps introduce at another time.
Mr. Wolfskill, formerly a trapper, came to this country in 1831, and has been on the present place since March, 1838. He is a very industrious old man, and dresses very plainly, yet seems to enjoy an easy and contented life. His estate is very valuable, and, as I remarked, the orchard and vineyard are the largest and finest in the state. In a few years, the orange crop must amount to quite a fortune in itself.
Messrs. Kohler & Frohling have purchased, the present season, the entire grape crop, as they have for the last four years, and manufactured the same into wine in Mr. Wolfskill's place, where the large cellars and distilleries are. The principal building is new, and made of brick, being 140 feet long and 20 feet high. They have one brick cellar for storing the wine, 100 feet long; another large cellar, 85 feet long by 50 feet wide, built of adobe, with brick wall around, which will store over sixty thousand gallons. In these cellars are. to be seen the large pipes of wine. Altogether, the cellars contain over one hundred thousand gallons of wine. There are also cellars running under the entire house, full of wine.
The crops the present season, from the Wolfskill vineyard, will produce from forty-five to fifty thousand gallons of wine. Messrs. K. & F. have also purchased the crops from the following vineyards, to wit, the "Ramons Valeuzuela " vineyard, "Don Andreas," "Isidora Reys," "Azuza Ranch," " Wm. Workman," (La Puente) and "Ellis Moulton." The whole crop of wine amounts to about 145,000 gallons. They employ during the wine season about forty Indians, paying them from fifty to seventy-five cents per day.
The close of the vintage of 1850 was celebrated by a fete or "Harvest Home," to which all who had participated in the manufacture, as well as a large number of invited guests and members of the press, were present. My absence from the city, (being on a tour in the country,) alone prevented my accepting an invitation to be present.
In connection with the above, I will state that Mr. Stern is now on his way to New York, to open a house for the sale of these wines, under the firm name of Perkins and Stern, as a branch house of Kohler and Frohling. The establishment will be open about the first of March, the wines being expected to arrive about that time, some one hundred pipes being on the way, of all the varieties of wine manufactured, to be followed by regular shipments. In the establishment in San Francisco are some ten large cellars, containing about seventy-five thousand gallons of wine, of different brands and vintages.
I have alluded to the above establishment somewhat at length, that your readers may have some idea of one of the prominent establishments in Los Angeles. There are other manufacturers of equal merit, as Sansevaine Bros., M. Keller, Hoaver, White, Wilson, etc, whom I may allude to at another time.
There has been of late much complaint regarding California wines, from the causes alluded to, and owing to shipments east of poor wines, which have most unfortunately thrown a discredit upon the article. Some articles have appeared in different journals here concerning the matter, in vindication and otherwise; and a late article in the Shipping List, concerning a shipment to New York of cheap wines, may have an injurious tendency which should be corrected. Soon after the article appeared, in November, a reply was made by a well-known correspondent, through the columns of the Echo de Pacifique, which would not be out of place here, but would place the subject in a true light, and I can vouch for its correctness.
I can heartily endorse the article, and hope it will be read with interest, should you find room for it in your columns.
I myself can speak with some knowledge of the increase of this business, having followed it up for the-past year, and during my last visit to Los Angeles had ample opportunity for visiting all the wine making establishments in the place. I can . attest with knowledge of the house of Sansevaine Bros., of Los Angeles. Any one who may have visited their large establishment during the wine-making season, as was my pleasure, would see their wine-presses, rollers, crusher, etc., in full operation, and all put up in the latest French style, and any doubt as to their ability of manufacturing wines would have vanished. This house alone presses forty-five thousand pounds of grapes daily, which yield three thousand gallons of wine.
In my next, I will make further reference to this subject, alluding to the prospects of wine culture in California, and a glance at the establishment of Messrs. Sansevaine Brothers. I send you copies of the report on Grape culture, lately published. This subject is, as you see, attracting great attention, and great results are expected; and so for the present, Adios.
[The above is the beginning of a series of articles from California, written by a gentleman thoroughly familiar with the subject, and who handles the "pen of a ready writer," having for some time been a member of the "corps editorial." We have no doubt these articles will be found deeply interesting. We have omitted the extract alluded to above for want of room. Mr. Stern, above mentioned, is now in New York. - Ed].