Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oral History of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winemakers

In the early 1990s the writer and historian Charles L. Sullivan was comissioned by the Bennion Trust to create an oral history of winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Over a period of two years he interviewed many of the prominent winemaking families in the region, and compiled a 700 page document which provides a fascinating insight into the state of the appellation at the time as well, as the history over the previous century.

The book was self published by the Bennion Trust and was only available to those in the know who purchased a copy directly from Fran Bennion herself. $40 got you over 350 sheets of velobound copier paper.

Some years ago I contacted first Mr Sullivan and then the Bennion Trust, offering to host a copy of the manuscript on the internet, to bring it to a wider audience. The original source material was still in existence on early Apple Macintosh disks, and could have been converted to a modern format without too much difficulty. The offer was politely declined at the time, but I recently learned that the trust has since gone ahead with publishing a version of the project online.

At the present time it's still incomplete. All of the interviews are viewable as PDF scans; they are readable, but are not currently indexed or searchable. The quality is perfectly readable and I've successfully processed some of the pages with OCR software. The appendix - which consisted of various photographs and commercial documents from Ridge - are not yet present, nor is the original map of the appellation drawn by Jan Sherrill.

You can view the project at