The Makers of American Wine: A Record of Two Hundred Years

By Thomas Pinney | Go to book overview

ELEVEN
Konstantin Frank
ZEALOT AT WORK

A GERMAN IN RUSSIA

Wine making has always had an international flavor in America. This book has so far included the Swiss Dufour, the Germans Husmann and Kohler, the Italian Sbarboro, and the Englishman Morgan, but the list of such names among the pioneers can easily be greatly extended. The French Legaux in Pennsylvania, the Italian Mazzei in Virginia, the German Rapp in Indiana, and the Hungarian Haraszthy in California are among the pioneer names, and to them one might add the Irishman Keller in Los Angeles, the Costa Rican Gallegos in Fremont, and the Japanese Nagasawa in Sonoma, not to mention the uncounted, nameless Indians, Mexicans, and Chinese who did the work of vineyard and winery up and down California throughout the nineteenth century.

What was true in the early days continues to be true today: the Italian Luca Paschina in Virginia, the German Herman Wiemer in upstate New York, and the Croatian Mike Grgich in California are representative of a large and varied group currently active in American wine making. Konstantin Frank is thus not really an exotic but part of a tradition.

Still, his is a striking story, beginning with his birth near Odessa in what was then the Russian Ukraine. Germans have been settled in Russia for many centuries, but large-scale immigration began in the time of Catherine the Great, who, in a policy intended to assist the technical and cultural development of the country, issued a proclamation of free entry into Russia in 1763 and attracted many thousands of Germans. Later, in the period of the Napoleonic wars that convulsed Europe, Alexander I reissued Catherine’s proclamation and another large immigration followed. In the nineteenth

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