The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.” Some call it “America’s Second Independence Day.”
The original celebration became an annual one, and it grew in popularity over the years with the addition of descendants, according to Juneteenth.com, which tracks celebrations. The day was celebrated by praying and bringing families together. In some celebrations on this day, men and women who had been enslaved, and their descendants, made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston.
Celebrations reached new heights in 1872, when a group of African-American ministers and businessmen in Houston purchased 10 acres of land and created Emancipation Park. The space was intended to hold the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration.
Today, while some celebrations take place among families in backyards where food is an integral element, some cities, like Atlanta and Washington, hold larger events, like parades and festivals with residents, local businesses and more.
Juneteenth needs to be taught in schools, and listed appropriately in history books, at all levels. And it stands on its own, certainly not needing Orange man to move his virus filled rally to another date!
My only direct experience in Juneteenth came back in the 80s, when I participated in a fund-raising tennis tournament to promote Juneteenth in the Bay Area. One of the honorees and competitors
was former Mayor of Oakland, Lionel Wilson, owner of a pretty decent backhand. Arthur Ashe would have been pleased!
And the sound of France’s pedestal crumbling was heard beyond the Pacific Coast. “The most important thing in my view is the judgment of Paris created a template whereby unknown wines of high quality could go up against known benchmark wines of high quality, blind, provided they were in front of an incredibly reputable panel of judges,” says Spurrier. Davids from all over felt power to take on Goliaths. It was a great democratizing moment for vintners.
“It opened up the doors not only to Napa but other regions in the world,” says Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ Baseler. “That helped other people say ‘Gee, we can too,’ whether it was in New Zealand, Australia, Oregon, Washington, Chile.” Perceptions among people buying and collecting wine, shifted, too. And with France forced off its laurels, everyone felt a greater sense of competition, industry veterans recall, which meant the world was getting and continues to get more variety and innovation in its vino.
May 24, 1976. On this fateful day, France’s finest vintages were pitted against the cream of California’s crop in a blind test – and lost. A world first that sent the industry into a tailspin and sparked a witch-hunt like no other.
Organized by esteemed British merchant Steven Spurrier, the ‘face-off ’ was initially ridiculed by journalists, who refused to waste their time on a foregone conclusion. Only TIME reporter George Taber agreed, eventually, to cover the event–the only member of the press in attendance. “Everybody knows that French wines are going to win, so why waste a day?” he told TIME magazine. “It’s the giant and the little guy. Nobody took it seriously.”
Little did he suspect he was about to witness history in the making. Now known as “the Judgement of Paris” – for those who can even bring themselves to utter the words – the blind tasting invited a panel of nine French oenophiles to sample ten white wines (six Californian Chardonnays and four Burgundies) and ten reds (six Californian Cabernets and four Bordeaux).
To everyone’s dismay, not least the judges’, a pair of Napa Valley vintages came out on top: a 1973 Château Montelena and 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Then all hell broke loose. French winemakers cried foul. Judges were branded traitors and pressured to resign from their various positions. As for Spurrier, he quickly became persona non grata, blamed for toppling France as a world leader and – worse – orchestrating the country’s wholesale humiliation at the hands of US upstarts.
So momentous, or calamitous depending on your perspective, was the taste test’s outcome that bottles of the triumphant wines are now held in the Smithsonian collections at the National Museum of American History. In true French style, some 40 years on, vignerons are still blaming the weather for their loss – arguing the early 1970s yielded particularly poor crops – and clamouring for a rematch.
The Rev. Al Sharpton announced Thursday that he’s organizing a March on Washington in late August to mark the 57th anniversary of the historic demonstration for civil rights as protests over the death of George Floyd sweep the nation.
Still, this bottle is for keeps and now worth its price for topping many most expensive wine lists over the years and gaining the world’s attention in the process. The region, the most prestigious in the New World, is famous for “Napa Cab,” a rich, oak-aged aroma range laced with blackcurrant, liquorice, vanilla, boysenberry and smoky dark chocolate. A distant second was the Chateau Margaux, 1787, at a mere $225,000!