Society features

UC Davis Library, California Vintage Wine Society to Create Archive Collection

The collection will detail the history of the California Vintage Wine Society, a social club for people who appreciate great California wine.


The UC Davis Library and the California Vintage Wine Society are currently working together to compile an archival collection that will include letters, photographs, and menus that date back to the 1960s. These memorabilia will ultimately contribute to a commemorative book that details the history of the company for its 60th anniversary next year.

Although the library participates in the support of the university’s viticulture and oenology department and claims to be the largest wine bar in the worldthis collaboration has materialized through multiple coincidences.

“One afternoon in January 2017, as I walked back to my office near the Maynard Amerine Room on the third floor of the Shields Library, I saw a pair of legs stretched out behind a shelf,” said Axel Borg, UC Davis Library Distinguished Librarian Emeritus for Food and Wine. “Not knowing what to expect, I turned a corner and came across a man, lying on his back on the ground, reading a book. When I identified myself, the man jumped up and started asking me questions.

Borg said he discovered that the man, Ned MacDonald, who at the time was president of the Northern California chapter of the California Vintage Wine Society, was looking to use the Amerine Room’s collection of grapes and wines to teach to members of the society different wines.

Although this chance encounter led to a friendship and partnership between the UC Davis Library and the California Vintage Wine Society, it took another chance discovery to bring this archival collection to fruition.

The archival collection items were originally three albums from Mike Henry’s closet that Paul Tuttle, chairman of the California Vintage Wine Society’s wine committee, shared with the library staff. Henry’s father, Warner Henry, was a founding member of the company, and the albums include important names and faces in the wine industry.

“I ended up having a visit scheduled with UC Davis to go around the library, meet the whole group involved in [the wine] library,” Tuttle said. “I brought these [scrapbooks] with me at lunch. We were trying to find a way to digitize them, mainly for the benefit of members. »

The idea of ​​digitizing the albums then morphed into the idea of ​​a commemorative book to mark the company’s 60th anniversary.

“To build on the story presented by the scrapbooks, the library engaged members of the society in a ‘scavenger hunt’ contest to see which members could search for event schedules, menus, ratings, the most interesting photographs, etc. from their closets and attics,” Kevin Miller, UC Davis Library Archives and Special Collections Manager, said. “We also plan to augment this material record with new oral history interviews with longtime members of the California Vintage Wine Society to further preserve the stories and history of the society and its activities.”

Although the UC Davis library has already 30,000 books in more than 50 languages ​​and media on all wine-related mediahaving an archival collection like this is always important, according to Tuttle.

“There is a saying that says […] says ‘who only knows his own generation is still a child’, so it’s very important for us to understand where we come from,” Tuttle said. “It helps guide us into the future.”

Miller echoed Tuttle’s sentiments about the importance of an archival collection like this.

“We want our collections to tell the full story of wine in California,” Miller said. “The California Vintage Wine Society collection fills another gap here. Ultimately, the better our collections, the closer we come to our mission of meeting the research and educational needs of UC Davis students, faculty, and the interested public.

Written by: Jennifer Ma —

An earlier version of this article stated that Paul Tuttle found the albums in Mike Henry’s closet. The article has been updated to correct the error.