January 05, 2006

You've got a friend in the wine business

Over the holidays I found out exactly how my Dad's side of the family got U.S. citizenship back in the 1890s. It turns out that my great-great grandfather somehow immigrated to the U.S. and was working as a winemaker in the Napa valley back then, and a local judge naturalized him (see the extended entry for more info). It appears he moved to Napa in about 1883, then departed back to France in the late 1890s after selling his winery. When my great-grandfather re-entered the U.S. some twenty years later, his papers claim that he was already a citizen, because he was born in Napa.

From Cal Archives Napa



It is with peculiar pleasure that we here place on record a notice of the important work that is being done for Napa Valley and the wine interest, not alone of this section but of the State at large, by the experienced and indefatigable labors of Mr. V. Courtois. During the eight years that he has been a resident of this valley, he has accomplished a great deal, winning the confidence of grape-growers and winemakers alike by his knowledge and enthusiastic attention to the business. Mr. Courtois is a native of Cette, France, on the shores of the Mediterranean, one of the centers of the wine industry of France. His father has an extensive wine-house in that city, having trade covering the whole of Europe, and the family has been connected with the wine business for several generations. It will thus be seen that Mr. Courtois comes of an experienced family, and should know what he is doing. After an experience covering many years in France, and afterward at Naples, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain, Mr. Courtois determined eight years ago to come to this State, to examine into the possibilities for wine and brandy making, and with a possible view of going into business here. His investigation was sufficiently favorable to induce him to locate permanently in Napa Valley, where he has for the past four years carried on an extensive and rapidly increasing business,—that, too, against the most vigorous opposition of those who were satisfied with the slow-going and old-fashioned ways of doing business, and did not care to see the energetic and enthusiastic Frenchman come in with his new ideas and improved methods. He has steadily enlarged his business, however, and to-day occupies a commanding position in the wine business of the Napa Valley, having many cellars rented, where he makes wine on contract, and acting also as broker and commission merchant in the purchase and sale of wines. His trade covers all the United States, Central and Southern America, etc., but is chiefly confined to San Francisco, finding it more profitable to concentrate his attention to one market. Mr. Courtois is very energetic in forwarding any course that will be general benefit to this section, sparing neither time nor money to further the best interests, and making many improvements. The question of killing the phylloxera, which is such a pest in California, has occupied his attention deeply, and this summer he proposes to visit France to examine the new means adopted there, with the intention if possible of introducing it here, making at the same time an exhaustive report to the department at Washington. It is his intention to make a study in London, Paris, Bordeaux and the other centers of the qualities and styles of wines that are called for in those markets, with a view of profiting by it afterward here. He is a broad-minded and public-spirited man in his efforts, aiming as much to benefit the wine interests of the State at large as himself personally. He will also go to Cognac in order to interest capital there to undertake the manufacture of real cognacs here, for which this section is eminently well fitted.

Mr. Courtois is introducing on this coast the celebrated Malligand, Michel, Pere & Fils ainé ebullioscope, the most successful instrument devised for testing wines. He has the sole agency.

Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

Transcribed by: Wendy Sandino

Posted by todd at January 5, 2006 06:05 PM