by Fred McMillin
for February 26, 1999


Winery of the Week

Happy Birthday, Henry


Tomorrow is the birthday of the man who wrote...

When you ask one friend to dine,
Give him your best wine!
When you ask two,
The second best will do.

...Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American poet and connoisseur
Born Feb. 27, 1807, Portland, Maine

The Rest of the Story

Longfellow was not closely associated with "the second best." Examples:

  • His home in Cambridge, Mass., had an interesting occupant in 1775. The house was the headquarters of George Washington!

  • His mother, Zilpah Wadsworth, was a descendant of John Alden and Priscilla, which inspired her son 's poem about the romance.

In 1854 he received a gift of wine from a western vintner that inspired an eleven-stanza tribute to the grape. His opinion of the vine is reflected in various verses, including...

This song of mine
Is a song of. the vine...

For the richest and best
Is the wine of the West.

The Wine of the West

Longfellow was more correct than he knew in stating the best wine was in the west. He was writing about an American grape (Catawba) in Ohio. But farther west was a better wine grape. It was from Europe but growing in California, the Mission. How good was the Mission? I'm glad you asked, because our Winery of the Week makes two models. Here are the details.

Just the Facts

The Winery—Malvadino Vineyards,
7501 Sheep Ranch Road, Mountain Ranch,
Calaveras County, CA 9524
Principal Owner & Winemaker—Rocco Malvini
Tasting Room—457C Algiers, Murphys, CA, (209) 728-9030
The Two Mission Wines—Rocco makes a $12 Sierra Foothills Mission and a $13 Fiddletown Mission. My panel tasted the Fiddletown and were very impressed, just easing it into the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED category. To get your sip of history, phone Dave Addler at home, (209) 339-4643.


My Longfellow Connection: As a radar officer in World War II, my electronic training was conducted in Maine at Bowdoin College. There, I learned a lot about an outstanding alum, who enrolled at age 14 and became a professor of literature there at age 22. His name was H.W. Longfellow.

Note: For more about today's winery, see the Jan. 25, 1999 WineDay regarding the discovery of gold in California (metallic and liquid).

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.


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Feb. 1st—Happy New Year?


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