In 1796 the young Swiss winemaker Jean Jacques - later John James Dufour (1763-1827) emigrated from Vevey (Canton Vaud ) to America and traveled through today's federal states Pennsylvania. Illinois and Kentucky, In the latter, he first tried to make wine. He founded the "Kentucky Vineyard Company" with some citizens of the city of Lexington in Jessamine County, which was reorganized in 1981 and still exists today. In 1798 Dufour acquired from a Peter Legaux Pennsylvania 1,500 cuttings from 35 different grape varieties. He planted them on an area of five acres south of Lexington on a loop of the Kentucky River in 1799. Among them was the Alexander Dufour called "Cape Grape" because he had mistakenly received the information from Legaux that it came from the Cape in South Africa. Most were European vines and died, especially on the unknown for European varieties mildew and extremely bad weather, but the Alexander survived as one of the few varieties.
Because of these problems, the experiment went wrong after only three years, and Dufour left the Viticulture Association. But the wine-growing activities were continued by the company, which is why this vineyard can be considered the first commercial wine-growing company in the world United States describe. The Chrisman Mill Vineyards and Winery, not far from this place, is considered the current successor to this historic site. Dufour was looking for a new place for his viticulture activities and did not go very far from his first attempt as a winegrower on the Ohio River in what is now the state in 1802 Indiana near Vevay in Switzerland-County, named after the Swiss immigrants, a new vineyard, which he called "New Switzerland". There he made his first high quality wine in 1806 or 1807. Some barrels of the first harvest were brought to Washington in the White House by horse and cart to Thomas, who was then President at the time Jefferson (1743-1826), who expressly praised the wine. In 1809 there were already 1,200 gallons Wine produces.
In the early 1800s, Dufour made a trip to the Switzerland, but returned to the United States. A year before his death, in 1826 he published the book “The American Vine-Dresser's Guide. Cultivation of the Vine and the Process of Wine Making in the United States ”with the topics Vine diseases. floors and climate. varieties. intersections and finishes, Winery work and Vinification techniques, It is an extremely interesting first account of what was then viticulture in America and was a standard work in the United States until the beginning of the 20th century. Incidentally, the book was reprinted in 1999. Dufour's sons and descendants produced wine on this winery until 1850 and then discontinued it due to sales problems related to land speculation. Since 1968, the "Swiss Wine Festival" has been held annually in August in Vevay (Indiana) in honor of the wine-growing pioneer.