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Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:11:51 EST by admin, 99587 views
University of Debrecen
History paper by Lévai, Csaba (all papers)
Was Ágoston Haraszthy the "Father of Viticulture in California"? His Activities in Light of the Latest Literature.
Ágoston Haraszthy played a very important role in Hungarian-American relations in the middle of the 19th century. He published the second travelogue about the United States in Hungary, and his activities in Wisconsin and California contributed to a great extent to the early development of these states. Despite his active role, and despite the fact that several works has been published about his life, some aspects of his career are still unclear and the object of heated scholarly discussion. Haraszthy was a charismatic, flamboyant person who was also the master of self-propaganda. All this and the unclear particularities of his life contributed to the development of some myths and legends regarding his career. Some authors simply accepted some of these myths and mythologies inherited from Haraszthy, his family members or earlier writers, and they did not make real efforts to clarify them. There are several websites for example, on which we can still find as facts false or unproven information (e.g. he was the member or the royal body guard in Hungary, he was the member of the Hungarian Diet and the friend of Lajos Kossuth, he was a count and colonel etc.) about his career and life. But definitely the most influential, popular and widspread legend about Haraszthy is that he was the "founder of viticulture in California", or the "father of California wine industry". No doubt that he largely contributed to the development of vine growing and wine making in California, but according to the latest "revisionist" literature on the topic his role has been exaggerated to a great extent by some former writers. After the strict investigation of archival sources in Hungary and California, such authors as Thomas Pinney, Brian McGinty, and Charles Lewis Sullivan came to the conclusion that
- he was definitely not the first person who started to grow and make wine in California;
- he was not the first person who started to grow vine on a large scale in California;
- his importation of European grape varieties did not play such an important role in the devlopment of Californian wine industry as it was argued by his son and by some former authors;
- he was not the person who first imported the famous zinfandel grape into North America and California.
The aim of the author is not to destroy or to deny the role of Haraszthy as an important pioneer of wine making in California. He simply wants to contribute to the establishment of a balanced view about the career of this very important figure of Hungarian-American relations based on the results of the latest American literature on his activities in California..
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