Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pierre Sainsevain – first producer of California sparkling wine

Pierre and Jean Louis Sainsevain were nephews of Jean Louis Vignes, a Frenchmen who arrived in Los Angeles in the 1830s and had pioneered the Los Angeles wine trade.  Because of his name, a French compatriot has written of him, ‘he seemed predestined to become the Noah of California’.

The brothers, Pierre and Jean Louis Sainsevain bought over their uncle’s Los Angeles business in the early 1850s and expanded it into San Francisco cellars a few years later.

They bought wine from other growers, as well as making it from their own grapes and those purchased from local vineyards.

The most importance competitors of the Sainsevain were two German named Charles Kohler and John Frohling who arrived in San Francisco in 1853 and began shipping wines to the city from twelve-acre vineyard that they bought in Los Angeles.

In 1857, Sainsevain brothers opened a store in San Francisco.  With the aid of Pierre Debanne, Champagne maker they brought to California from France they bottled 50,000 bottles of sparkling wine in 1857 and another 150,000 in 1858.

They called it Sparkling California Champagne, and it was greeted with much interest, shipments being made to New York and Philadelphia to give it the widest publicity.

In 1860, the first consignment of Sainsevain Brothers wine was shipped to New York through the clipper chip E.T Willets.

Pierre Sainsevain later moved to San Jose, where he continued sparkling wine production on a sporadic basis, but eventually abandoned it.
Pierre Sainsevain – first producer of California sparkling wine

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