Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Lutheran Vinedresser

Friedrich Muench (1798?—1881), trained as a Lutheran minister in Germany, typified the enthusiastic style of the German winegrowers of Missouri. "With the growth of the grape," he wrote, "every nation elevates itself to a higher degree of civilization." The winery he founded in Augusta, Missouri, is in operation today. (State Historical Society of Missouri)

A History of Wine in America: From the Beginnings To Prohibition by Thomas Pinney
(UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford, © 1989 The Regents of the University of California) includes an account of a vinedresser who had been trained for the Lutheran ministry:

The philanthropic and literary farmer Friedrich Muench, of Washington, Warren County, a man trained to the Lutheran ministry in the University of Giessen and one of the original emigrants attracted by the blandishment of Gottfried Duden's description of the Missouri country, published the earliest treatise that I have found issuing from the Missouri German community.[94] His "Anleitung zum Weinbau in Nordamerika" ("Directions for Winegrowing in North America") appeared in the Mississippi Handelszeitung in 1859; a later version in book form appeared at St. Louis in 1864 as Amerikanische Weinbauschule; this went through three editions, and was translated in 1865 as School jar American Grape Culture: Brief but Thorough and Practical Guide to the Laying Out of Vineyards, the Treatment of Vines, and the Production of Wine in North America.

Muench, or "old Father Muench" as he grew to be called, had been growing grapes since 1846 and continued to do so until 1881, "when he was found dead among his beloved vines, one fine winter's morning of that year, with the pruning shears still in his hand, in his 84th year." Something of Muench's high-minded style may be had from this passage in his School for American Grape Culture:

"If it prove but moderately remunerative, the vine-dresser, free, lord of his own possessions, in daily intercourse with peaceful nature, is a happier and more contented man than thousands of those who, in our large cities, driven about by the thronging crowd, rarely attain true peace and serenity of mind. With the growth of the grape every nation elevates itself to a higher grade of civilization—brutality must vanish, and human nature progresses." (P. 11)

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