Friday 13th and bad luck wine stories!
Updated: Aug 22, 2020
There are many superstitions and good or bad luck stories relating to Friday 13th, and so naturally wine is among them.
For our first tale of woe, we go to Western Australia, where the area of Margaret River boasts a town known for boutique wine producers.
Whilst the area is responsible for 3% of Australian wine, it produces 20% of the country's premium wines.
The Vasse Felix winery is Margaret River’s founding wine estate and was established in 1967. It acquired its name from a seaman called Thomas Vasse, who was believed to have drowned when swept overboard from his vessel in 1801. To bring good luck to the winery, the word "Felix" was added, meaning "lucky". However, the grapes on the first vines planted were destroyed either by rot or got eaten by native birds, so the winemakers invested in a peregrine falcon to scare off the birds.
However, this also proved disastrous, as the peregrine flew off into the woods on its first release, never to return. The peregrine lives on as a depiction on the wine labels, and thankfully the winery is now thriving in 2020.
Staying with antipodean wine tales, our next tale of bad luck comes from
Crater Rim, a boutique winery in the rolling hills of Waipara, on New Zealand's South Island.
On Friday, November 13, 2009, the winery suffered a catastrophic fire that destroyed 150 barrels of its top-end Pinot Noir, along with thousands of litres of white wine. The team dusted themselves off, and regathered their spirits. They decided to create a wine that would mark the disastrous event.
They called it Black Friday Pinot Noir, since the date is known as Black Friday in New Zealand. The wine was being bottled on February 22, 2011 at a bottling plant near the city of Christchurch when the region was hit by a devastating earthquake, which caused massive damage to the city.
The Black Friday Pinot Noir is no longer made as a brand, but Crater Rim still thrives as a winery.
Buy this online at the Whisky Exchange.
Our final wine takes us back to the 1600s when in France, the monk and cellar master Dom Perignon was attempting to perfect winemaking techniques. He is often credited with making the discovery of Champagne, but at a time when science wasn't understood, he became fearful of the secondary fermentation in the bottle, avoiding it because all too often, the build up of carbon dioxide caused the bottles to explode. In the 1600s, it was believed that evil spirits (and not science) were responsible for such dramatic shattering of bottles.
Fortunately for fizz fans, a Gloucestershire man called Christopher Merritt, understood the science better and realised what was happening. Christopher Meritt was able to tap into contacts in the coal-powered factories in Newcastle upon Tyne, where they produced much stronger bottles than were available in France. As a result, the English could deliberately induce a secondary fermentation in wine without the risk of blowing up the bottle. Thus he was credited with putting the bubbles in our fizz.