Song of the Vine: A History of Wine Press Release

Press Release

Contact: Ellen Marsh
Phone: (607) 254-4680




Song of the Vine: A History of Wine

Lecture and wine tasting will open exhibition celebrating

Cornell’s Eastern Wine and Grape Archive


ITHACA, N.Y. -- An exhibition devoted to the history of wine and viticulture in the Eastern United States opens on June 5 with a lecture and wine tasting reception featuring Finger Lakes wineries. “Song of the Vine: A History of Wine,” held in the Hirshland Gallery in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Carl A. Kroch Library, celebrates the tenth anniversary of Cornell University Library’ unique Eastern Wine and Grape Archive.

Established in the heart of one of the world’s great wine making regions, the Eastern Wine and Grape Archive is the only defined archive in America devoted to the comprehensive preservation of the archival records of wine makers, grape growers and other wine industry participants.

“Ten years ago, with America’s wine industry experiencing explosive growth, we realized that the history of this industry – the papers and records of grape growers, wine makers, and others – was not being well-represented and preserved in research archives,” said Katherine Reagan, assistant director for collections, at Cornell’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. “We established the Eastern Wine and Grape Archive to document and capture these important historical materials.”

“Song of the Vine” explores the origins of viticulture in Europe and the development of wine making in America, as well as the cultural movements and legislative acts that have shaped the nation's complex relationship with alcohol. Documents also tell the story of the growth of the New York State wine industry, from America's oldest wineries to today's “Uncork NY” advertising campaign. Other archival materials highlight Cornell's extensive contributions to the development of new grape varieties through the work of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

Instrumental in the establishment of Cornell’s wine archive was Hudson Cattell, the editor of Wine East magazine. "The creation of this archive at Cornell eliminated the fear that the great heritage of viticulture and winemaking in the East would disappear. “In 10 short years, the donations and promised collections have been of far more value than I anticipated. Cornell can take great pride in its ongoing efforts to acquire and house invaluable reference material for future generations."

Also on display will be selected archival materials from Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, in honor of their recent gift of more than a dozen cartons of historic papers.  In 2007, the Frank family also donated a historic book collection on grape-growing and winemaking to Cornell's Lee Library in Geneva, NY.

“The Library is proud to serve as the home for this important repository of papers and collections,” said Anne Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. “That some of the finest wineries in the United States are owned by Cornellians, and that Cornell serves as national role in fostering wine and grape production, is further cause for our celebration.”

“Song of the Vine: A History of Wine” opens June 5 at 4:30 p.m. with a lecture titled “A Very Short History of Wine in America” by noted wine expert and author Thomas Pinney in the HEC Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall. A viewing of the exhibition along with a reception featuring wine tastings from King Ferry Winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, Swedish Hill Winery and Lakewood Vineyards will follow Pinney’s lecture in the Hirshland Gallery.

Related exhibitions are also on view at Mann Library, the Entomology Library, the Hotel and Geneva libraries, and Bailey Hortorium. “Song of the Vine” remains on display until January 16, 2009. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

For more information see:

“Song of the Vine” and its associated Web site are made possible by Ronni Lacroute ‘66.


Eastern Wine and Grape Archive Exhibition Press Kit