War and Wine

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

Today is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War.  In South Carolina, the commemorations, like the war, kick off in the pre-dawn hours as Civil War re-enactors fire upon Fort Sumter.   Here in Connecticut (birthplace of both Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown), commemorations begin at 8:00 am with a ceremonial firing of cannons on the lawns of the state capitol.

Reading about the plans for four years worth of commemorations led me to wonder about the history of local wines in the 19th century.  An obvious question is whether or not (or to what extent) the war influenced wine production or consumption.

A quick internet search turned up not much – not surprising, I suppose.  Prohibition was such a game-changer for American wine production; it took decades to re-establish local wine cultures in many states.  As a result, when you go looking for information on the history of American wine, most of the stories begin in the late 60s or early 70s.

But there’s information out there in a handful of books and articles, and I found the charming “Civil War Wine Reviews” in Benito’s Wine Reviews.   There’s undoubtedly more to be found in local histories and historical societies, so as I gear up for the trip to Virginia this summer for the Wine Blogger’s Conference, what a better time to stretch my long-unused research muscles and start a new occasional series, “Wine and War.”

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