Other Huguenot Communities
To go back almost a hundred years, in 1685 a large migration of Protestants from France had taken place in response to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, whereby Louis XIV suddenly withdrew from the Huguenots the legal protection that they had secured a century earlier. Though the French government tried to prevent a Huguenot emigration, thousands left the country. There was a general scramble among the proprietors and promoters of American colonies to attract these unlucky people, for they were intelligent, industrious, skilled, well-behaved, and right-thinking—the ideal colonists, in short, and very unlike the average of the marginal types who could be lured into the American backwoods. Landlords in Virginia, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts all tried to put their attractions before various Huguenot communities. Virginia managed to secure some: as early as 1686 one Virginia promoter, with an eye upon the Huguenots, advertised his property in Stafford County as "naturally inclined to vines." A Huguenot traveller, Durand de Dauphiné, visiting Stafford County the next year, was much struck by the promising terrain and by the wild vines there; he made, he says, some "good" wine from the grapes, and recommended them for cultivation. His
account was published in Europe in 1687, but it apparently did not succeed in attracting any Huguenots and did not lead to any winegrowing development in Stafford County.
In 1700 a large body of Huguenots arrived in Virginia under the special auspices of King William and settled on a 10,000-acre tract along the James River donated by the colony. Here, at Manakin Town (near present-day Richmond) they had succeeded by 1702 in making a "claret" from native grapes that was reported to be "pleasant, strong, and full body'd wine." The information, recorded by the historian and viticulturist Robert Beverley, was evidence to him that the native vines needed only to be properly cultivated to become the source of excellent wine and evidently had much to do in starting him on his own experiments. The opinion of Beverley is confirmed by the Swiss traveller Louis Michel, who visited Manakin Town in 1702 and was impressed by the incredibly large vines growing there, from which, he wrote, the French "make fairly good wine, a beginning has been made to graft them, the prospects are fine." The prospects soon changed for the worse: according to the Carolina historian John Lawson, the French at Manakin Town found themselves hemmed in by other colonists, who took up all the land around them, and so most of them departed for Carolina, where their minister assured Lawson that "their intent was to propagate vines, as far as their present circumstances would permit, provided they could get any slips of vines, that would do."
In Florida, at the same time that New Smyrna was being built in East Florida, the home government attempted to do something for unpopulated and unremunerative West Florida by sending over, in 1766, a band of forty-six French Protestants to pursue their arts of winemaking and silk producing. They were settled at a place called Campbell Town, east of Pensacola, but conditions there were so wild and unpromising that failure was quick and complete. The group was badly led, the incidence of disease was very high, and within four years all the French were either dead or had left the province. This was, I think, the last instance in which London officials tried to create a colonial enterprise by the expedient of simply dumping a band of Huguenots upon the land, with most dire results for the poor Huguenots themselves.
Beyond the South, there were other, isolated Huguenot communities that attempted winegrowing. Those in Massachusetts and in Rhode Island have already' been mentioned. In Pennsylvania, the first winemaker whose name we know was the Huguenot Gabriel Rappel, whose "good claret" pleased William Penn in 1683; another of the earliest was Jacob Pellison, also a Huguenot, as was Andrew Doz, who planted and tended William Penn's vineyard of French vines at Lemon Hill on the Schuylkill. Doz, naturalized in England in 1682, came over to Pennsylvania in that same year; Penn called him a "hot" man but honest. The vineyard, which was begun in 1683, stood on 200 acres of land and was described in 1684 by the German Pastorius as a "fine vineyard of French vines." "Its growth," Pastorius added, "is a pleasure to behold and brought into my reflections, as I looked upon it, the fifteenth chapter of John."
Two years later, another witness reported that "the Governours Vineyard goes on very well." In 1690 the property was patented to Doz himself for a rental of 100 vine cuttings payable annually to Penn as proprietor. From that arrangement it seems clear that the experiment of vine growing was still in process after its beginning seven years earlier. It would be interesting to know whether any of the European vines survived as late as that.
William Penn himself was particularly active in seeking to attract Huguenot emigrants to Pennsylvania, and used the prospect of viticulture as a recruiting inducement. His promotional tract of 1683, A Letter from William Penn . . . Containing a General Description of the Said Province , was translated into French and published at The Hague in order to reach the French Protestant community exiled in the Low Countries. In his new province, Penn wrote, were "grapes of diverse sorts" that "only want skilful Vinerons to make good use of them." Penn's pamphlet, though written with an eye on prospective French colonists, is ostensibly addressed to the Free Society of Traders in Pennsylvania, incorporated by Penn in London; he concludes by telling this body that the great objects of the colony, the "Promotion of Wine" and the manufacture of linen, are likely to be best served by Frenchmen: "To that end, I would advise you to send for some thousands of plants out of France, with some Vinerons, and People of the other vocation." Penn's efforts at recruiting had good results. Many religious refugees made their way to the colony, Huguenots among them; but the French were soon assimilated into the general community rather than maintaining a separate identity. They may have undertaken viticulture at first, but their dispersal through the community meant that those who persisted at it did so as individuals. As Penn told the Board of Trade in 1697, in Pennsylvania "both Germans and French make wine yearly, white and red, but not in quantity for export."
The best known of Huguenot settlements in America are those of New York State, at New Paltz and New Rochelle, the one going back to the mid seventeenth century, the other founded towards the end of it. In neither does there seem to have been any attempt at winegrowing, despite the likelihood of their sites and the practice of the neighboring colonies in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.