There is seldom any mention of chemistry during conversations at the California hotel named Wine and Roses. Lodi, CA visitors, at least those who stay at that hotel generally have no great interest in chemistry. Yet without the link between agriculture and chemistry there would be no Wine and Roses. Without that link Lodi would not have a wine-making industry that could attract large numbers of visitors.
The wine-making industry of Lodi, CA depends heavily on the chemistry of grapes, the chemistry of soil and the chemistry of taste buds. It is a chemistry that was largely discovered by chance. Its discovery began in 1852 when George West visited the home of Capt. Charles Weber, the founder of Stockton, CA. During that visit West received some grape cuttings from Weber. He later planted them in the Lodi-Woodbridge region.
The cuttings that West received from Weber included samples of several kinds of grapes. Over time West discovered that the Tokay grapes grew best in the soil of Lodi, CA. The Tokay grapes seemed to prefer the sandy Lodi soil. In addition, the Tokay grapes thrived well when touched by the cool Lodi breezes. So two sciences, both chemistry and botany, combined to explain the excellent growth of Tokay grapes in Lodi, CA.
Once the farmers in Lodi, CA had chosen to grow Tokay grapes, and once those grapes had appeared at the local markets, then biochemistry became an important determinant of the grapes' success. Biochemistry explained the grapes flaming color, a color that quickly caught the eye of many California shoppers. Those shoppers then purchased the Tokay grapes, and they soon discovered that the flaming fruit was delicious when eaten from a bowl on the table.
After the residents of California had discovered that the Tokay grapes made great table grapes, then they spread word of their discovery to residents in adjoining states. Soon the grapes from Lodi, CA were being shipped all over the United States. Here again chemistry and botany provided the Tokay grapes with an added plus. The firm Tokay grapes held up well during their cross-county travels.
And agricultural chemists in and around Lodi, CA found other ways to highlight the benefits of the Tokay grapes. They showed the farmers how fermentation of the Tokay grapes could be used to make wine. They also showed the farmers how distillation of the Tokay grapes could be used to make brandy. The farmers saw immediately that the Tokay grapes could provide them with an excellent source of income.
Even the period of Prohibition, which started in 1919 and ran for a dozen years, could not halt the money-making potential of the Tokay grapes. During that period the farmers in Lodi, CA shipped the grapes around the country to the many places where people had set-up a home distillation device.
Since that period, not all of the Tokay grapes became packed into boxes, ready for shipment out of the state of California. Some of those Tokay grapes remained in Lodi, CA, where they were used to treat the diners at the tables of the Wine and Roses Hotel.