University of California

Hilgard and California viticulture


Maynard A. Amerine

Author Affiliations

Maynard A. Amerine was Professor of Enology and Enologist in the Experiment Station, Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 33(1):1-23. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v33n01p001. July 1962.

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Eugene Waldemar Hilgard was born in Germany in 1833 and spent his early years in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois. When he was sixteen he went to Europe to study geology and chemistry in Switzerland and Germany, receiving his doctorate in chemistry from Heidelberg. In 1855 he became State Geologist of Mississippi, and later Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Experimental and Agricultural Chemistry at the University of Mississippi. From 1873 to 1875 he was Professor of Geology and Natural History at the University of Michigan.

After this, he came to the University of California as Professor of Agriculture and Botany, later becoming Director of Experiment Stations and Dean of the College of Agriculture. He became Emeritus in 1906 and died at the age of eighty-three in 1916.

Hilgard’s significant contributions to soil science have recently been recorded in the book E. W. Hilgard and the Birth of Modern Soil Science by Professor (Hans Jenny (1961)). The purpose of this paper is to review Hilgard’s significant contributions to California viticulture and enology. Although the Prohibition period removed many of the results of Hilgard’s work from California vineyards, the influence of his far-reaching and systematic attack on the problems of California’s grape and wine industry can still be detected today.


Before he came to California in 1875, Hilgard had little, if any, professional training in viticulture or enology. Yet during the twenty years which followed he made permanent contributions to the viticultural industry of the state and established the University of California as an important center of research in viticulture and enology. This is particularly noteworthy for a man who had many other professional interests.

Hilgard was not without knowledge of grapes and wines prior to his work in California. This was undoubtedly a result of his father’s interest in the

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Amerine M. 1962. Hilgard and California viticulture. Hilgardia 33(1):1-23. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v33n01p001
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