Grape Culture, Wines, and Wine-Making. With notes upon Agriculture and Horticulture - Agoston Haraszthy 1862 - Harper & Brothers, New York - First Edition The rare first edition of this essential work by the ‘father’ of California viticulture, a Hungarian nobleman who pioneered the finer vintages of California and was described as ‘a vade-mecum for success: brilliant, energetic, imaginative, personable and with a nose for money’. Clean and bright copy in the original cloth binding, with woodcut frontispiece of the author's home (Buena Vista Ranche, Sonoma County, California), and numerous woodcut illustrations throughout.

The object of Haraszthy’s trip through ‘
parts of France, the Netherlands, Holland, Rhenish, Prussia, Bavaria, Nassau, Baden, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and England’, was to examine the different varieties of grapes and the methods of making wine in the wine growing countries of Europe. It was sanctioned by Californian Governor J.G. Downey.

‘Aside from its historical value as a reference on 19th century European methods of viticulture and wine making, Haraszthy’s descriptions of the wines he drank, the towns he visited, the countryside through which he travelled and anecdotes of the people he met make for entertaining reading.’ - Gabler,
Wine into Words.

Putting all this in perspective, the California Gold Rush had just taken place, and as Haraszthy points out whilst traveling through Europe – ‘
The Emperor Napoleon is at this moment in the bathing-place of Biarritz, about twenty minutes drive from here’.
  As "Commissioner to Report on the Improvement and Culture of the Vine in California", Haraszthy reports that “I have purchased in different parts of Europe 100,000 vines, embracing about 1400 varieties”. This included Zinfandel which was to become such a success in California.

In 1857, Haraszthy founded his vineyard ‘Buena Vista’ at Sonoma where he later planted the imported vines and made the results of his experiments available to all interested growers. This resulted in the first great improvement in the quality of California wines. The present repute can be traced to the Hungarian’s tireless and intelligent study. Haraszthy’s vineyard was also thought to have produced California’s first sparkling wine called
Eclipse.

‘In the Winter of 1858 Col. Haraszthy put into a high tract of land, east of the town of Sonoma, eighty thousand vines, the progress and growth of which was keenly watched by all interested in viniculture. The experiment succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations, and marked a new era in the cultivation of the grape in California; henceforward the rich and heavy bottom lands were abandoned for the hillsides.’ -
A History of Sonoma County


From the Daily Alta California 1863 -
‘A copy of a book entitled Grape Culture, Wines and Wine-Making, with notes upon Agriculture and Horticulture, by A. Haraszthy, Commissioner to report on the Improvement and Culture of the Vine in California, with numerous illustrations, New York, Harper & Brothers, has been placed upon our table by A. Roman & Co. It is an octavo volume of 420 pages, printed and bound in elegant style.

The first part of the book, 160 pages, contains the journal of Col. Haraszthy's trip through the wine districts of Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, the Rhine, Piedmont, Genoa, and Malaga, with a final chapter upon the author's experience in cultivating the grape and making wine in this State. So far as the notes of travel are concerned, they do not differ in any remarkable degree from other books of travel, unless here and there a little turn in the language reminds us that English is not the author's mother tongue. The style, however, is clear, forcible and grammatical. While we cannot praise the journal for any rare literary merit, we must give it credit for containing a large number of facts, and many important suggestions in relation to the main object of Col. Haraszthy's expedition.

The second part, of 30 pages, is a translation of a German treatise, by J.C. Leuchs, on wines. The third part, of 40 pages, is a translation of a German treatise, by J.C. Leuchs, on wine-making. The fourth part, of 65 pages, is a translation of a German treatise, by Dr. L. Gall, in improvements in wine-making. The other parts are translations, or extracts, from F. Rubens, on the cultivation of the vine; J. Beyre, on sparkling wines; E. Lucas, on drying fruits; A. Ziegler, on the silkworm; P.W. Phillippi, on potato starch and grape sugar; K.J. Eberton, beer sugar, and H.S. Olcott, on sorgho and imphee.

Such are the main parts of the work, which is so comprehensive that we cannot undertake in one article to comment on each of its chapters. It is a substantial book, full of the most valuable information upon all the branches of wine-growing.

We do not hesitate to assert that it is worth not only more than any other English book, but more than all other English books put together, on the same subject. We speak knowingly, because we have examined all the accessible English works on wine, and we have found most of them to be written for ornamental gardeners who may have a few vines in green-houses . . . ‘



Provenance: Major Robert C. Redmond of Burlington, New Jersey (who in 1864 was Major in Command - 58th Pennsylvania Infantry, at the Siege of Petersburg). Later gifted in 1886 by Florence V. McDonald to Mrs Annie S Wills. Later property of Lytton(?) G. Anderson.

Reference: André Simon, Bibliotheca Vinaria 144 (1863 edition). Gabler, Wine into Words G23020. Vineana GH99. Jancis Robinson, Oxford Companion to Wine 337, 406.

Octavo (book size 24 x 16.5 cm), pp. [8] xv-xxx [2] 33-420 [4 (publisher’s ads)] [4]. In publisher’s blue patterned cloth (one of two variant colours, the other being burgundy), lettered in gilt to spine, with vignette of grapes in gilt to front board and in blind to spine, twin filet borders in blind to front and rear boards, all edges trimmed, cream coated endpapers (also encountered with brown or yellow coated endpapers). Small professional repair to cloth spine, and inner hinges.
  Condition: Near fine, dulling to gilt on spine, gentle repair to cloth at corners and spine ends, hinges neatly strengthened, minor soiling to endpapers, small 8mm deep insect hole to side of text block not affecting text, gilt on spine a little rubbed, with the small spots to pages caused by iron residue in the paper which we have encountered in all other copies handled.   Ref: 109376   Price: HK$ 20,000