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The Rhyme Maker
Robet Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson

Theme:  Praising Wine

Best known for his novel Treasure Island and his classic tale of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,  Robert Louis Stevenson was also a wine connoisseur of some renown.  In this excerpt from the travel book, The Silverado Squatters, he takes the reader to the Napa Valley of 1883, a land in the waning days of the Gold Rush, with her vineyards still in their infancy.  His prose is both prophetic and poetic, a piece of "prose poetry", a concept of which Stevenson may not have approved.
- S. H. Bass   

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more Robert Louis Stevenson at
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As Daniel, bird alone, in that far land


Robert Louis Stevenson


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. . . the wine is bottled poetry
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Scottish poet/novelist

      Wine in California is still in the experimental stage . . . the beginning of vine-planting is like the beginning of mining for the precious metals:  the wine-grower also "Prospects."  One corner of land after another is tried with one kind of grape after another.  This is a failure;  that is better;  a third best.  So, bit by bit, they grope about for their Clos Vougeot and Lafite . . . those lodes and pockets of earth, more precious than the precious ores, that yield inimitable fragrance and soft fire; those virtuous Bonanzas, where the soil has sublimated under sun and stars to something finer, and the wine is bottled poetry:  these still lie undiscovered; chaparral conceals, thicket embowers them;  the miner chips the rock and wanders farther, and the grizzly muses undisturbed.  But there they bide their hour, awaiting their Columbus;  and nature nurses and prepares them.  The smack of Californian earth shall linger on the palate of your grandson.

from The Silverado Squatters (1883)

Welcome sign of the Napa Valley Vintners Association.
Welcome Sign of the Napa Valley Vintner's Association
photo by By Aaron Logan (
(click image to enlarge)

Robert Louis Stevenson at Amazon

  BOTTLED POETRY: Verses from the Vine
vinted and bottled by Stephen H. Bass

"The Vintage in California - at work at the wine presses" by Paul Frenzeny (1840-1902)
This color engraving is the work of French artist Paul Frenzeny on assignment for Harper's Weekly to document the the life of the Chinese in San Francisco in the late 1800's.  The exact time of its appearance in the magazine is not  certain (late 19th Century). It's subject matter is controversial today, as the Chinese laborer was often exploited during this time period.   Visit  Vintage Wine  Poems Pinterest Boards
(click image to enlarge)  

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