Biographical / Historical
The American Wine History Project began in 1996 with the intention to document the history of American winemaking, mainly for the post-1950 period. While the project includes winemaking areas around the country, the focus has been on northern and central California. The Project explores the convergence of craft, culture, science, technology, and the environment in modern American winemaking. In conjunction with the project, the Smithsonian held a 2-day symposium, "Red, White and American," with a small accompanying exhibition, entitled, "Doubtless as Good: Jefferson's Dream for American Wine Fulfilled," in 1996 and began gathering objects and other documentation.
Since 1997, National Museum of American History staff members have traveled to California to conduct interviews, take photographs and video footage, and gather materials for the Smithsonian collection from grape growers, winemakers, winery owners, and others important to the business, including wine writers and chefs. Some of the materials were generated from events in Napa, such as the collectors and wine writers events, that were held specifically for the purpose of adding documentation to the Smithsonian project. The documentation project is on-going so materials will continue to be added to the collection.