Renault Winery (L.N. Renault & Sons), Egg Harbor, N.J.

renault

Renault is a winery located in Egg Harbor City, Atlantic County, New Jersey. As of 2015 it was the oldest active winery in New Jersey and some web sites say in the United States.

Louis Nicholas Renault, a former vintner for the Duke of Montebello at Rhiems, center of the French champagne district, established his winery in 1864. The winery opened to the public in 1870 and for many years was the largest producer of champagne in the United States. The winery once cultivated 600 acres and sold 500,000 cases of wine per year.

In 1919, John D’Augustino and family bought the winery and continued to operate it during National Prohibition under a special government permit. The permit allowed the production of wines for religious and medicinal purposes. Renault Wine Tonic, which had an alcoholic content of 22 percent, became the chief product and was sold in drug stores across the nation as a health tonic. A label warned not to chill the tonic because it would turn into wine. (It was 44 proof alchohol with an added ingredient called peptine. When chilled, the peptine separated and froze on the bottom leaving the wine floating on top.). An advertisement for Renault Tonic featured a young woman in a pink gown and called the tonic the “fountain of youth” touting that it relieved fatigue. The advertisement listed three flavors; tokay, sherry and port.

renault-ad

In recent years, the business expanded into a resort featuring a hotel, restaurants and a golf course and wine production decreased. As of September 2015 they had filed for bankruptcy but were still open.

The bottle I found is a quart size machine made bottle. It’s identical to the bottles pictured in the Renault Tonic advertisement described above so it’s almost certainly a Renault Tonic bottle from the 1920’s.

H B Kirk & Co., New York

kirk   kirk-1

The H stands for Harford B Kirk. The company was a well-known and respected bottler of wines and liquors that was in business for just about 70 years. An early company advertisement in 1860 mentioned Osborn’s Port, Chillingworth’s Port, Brandies, Sherries and Madeiras, Champagne, Rums, Gins, Scotch and Irish Whiskeys as well as ales and porters.

The following article in the January 1, 1886 issue of the New York Times provides some basic information on the company.

H B Kirk & Co

Pure Wines and Liquors

Among the old established firms in New York distinguished for handling reliable goods of the very highest standard is the firm of H B Kirk & Co., whose establishments at No. 69 Fulton Street, the corner of Broadway and Twenty-seventh Street and No. 9 Warren Street are well known and largely patronized. The firm’s specialties consist of the well known Kentucky sour mash whiskies such as “Hermitage,” (both rye and bourbon) “Oscar Pepper,” “Old Crow” rye, of the latter of which H B Kirk & Co have taken the entire production for the last 14 years. They are also the sole agents for the productions of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which are known in all the markets of the world as strictly pure and reliable. The business was established in 1852.

The NYC Directories back up and ultimately finish much of the story. Harford Kirk, wines, was first listed individually around 1855 / 1856 and HB Kirk and Co was first listed around 1864 /1865. The business remained listed into the mid- 1920’s. After the start of National Prohibition the business was listed as liquors for non-beverage purposes (whatever that means?). I don’t see any advertisements for them during this period so I doubt they were very active if at all.

The company was primarily located on Fulton Street, first at 58 Fulton Street and later at 69 Fulton Street up until 1902 and then moved to 156 Franklin Street. After the start of Prohibition they moved to 1475 Broadway. Over the years they also had additional branch locations as well, including the Broadway and Warren Street locations mentioned in the story.

As the above story points out, H.B, Kirk was the exclusive bottler of Old Crow Rye. The two firms partnered from the early 1870’s up until the start of National Prohibition in 1919 and Old Crow Rye was considered Kirk’s signature product. The relationship between the two firms is described in the December 17,1905 edition of the New York Times.

Pretty much every New Yorker who uses whiskey at all has sampled “Old Crow Rye” either at its home, H.B.Kirk & Co.’s famous old place on Broadway and Twenty-seventh Street, or at the homes of his friends. But of this number probably very few know the history of this sterling and time-tried brand, which for many years has stood at the top of all Rye whiskeys.

The origin of “Old Crow” dates back to the early thirties of the last century, when James Crow, a noted chemist of that period, settled in Kentucky and applied his knowledge to the distilling of Whiskey. His success was so pronounced that the product of his still became known not only in this country, but abroad, as the best. At the death of James Crow in 1856, W.A. Gaines & Co. secured from his heirs the secret of his great success as a distiller, and have continued the distilling of “Old Crow” in the same manner that was laid down by James Crow, not attempting to improve on his methods, as the results were perfection in whiskey.

In 1872, 19 years after his business was established, Mr. H.B. Kirk placed a sample order of 200 barrels with W.A. Gaines & Co. When it came to maturity, Mr. Kirk was delighted with its quality, and placed a large order, entering into a formal contract to take the entire output of the Old Crow Rye distillery. From that day on, the output of the distillery has been increased from year to year, going , as agreed under the contract, exclusively to H.B. Kirk & Co., who are the sole bottlers and distributor of same. In addition to their free bottling at No. 156 Franklin St., New York, they are bottling in bond under the Government supervision at the bonded warehouses in Kentucky. The steady and ever increasing demand for “Old Crow Rye” is a source of great satisfaction to H.B. Kirk & Co., proving that the method adopted at the origin of the company in 1852, and strictly adhered to, of giving the very best that could be produced meets with the public’s approval and secures their patronage.

“Old Crow Rye” is sold in bottles only. If offered over any other name than that of H.B. Kirk & Co., it is a fraud.

The advertisements for Old Crow Rye were at times quite humorous. One, in 1897, called it “the Washington of Whiskies.”

Like the father of our country our Old Crow Rye is honest truthful and always reliable.

kirk-ad

Another observed:

We see by the papers that a Mr. Lynch has just died in Muncie Ind., at the early age of 120 years, and who for many years took in heavy jags of Old Crow Rye. He was in hard luck. We hope his premature demise will not deter others from using it.

On a final note, in 1918 as the government was getting ready to enact National Prohibition and basically shut them down, H.B. Kirk still contributed advertising space to support the war effort.

I found two identical bottles embossed “Bottle Remains the Property of H B Kirk & Co NY”. On the opposite side there’s an embossed insignia consisting of what looks like three faces. Most likely, they contained “Old Crow” Rye.

Garrett & Co, Inc., Virginia Dare, New York

             

Garrett and Co. was established in 1835 in North Carolina and was a manufacturer of American wines using the indigeous Scuppernong grape. Virginia Dare was their most popular wine named for the first child born in America to English settlers. Dare was born on Roanoke Island which is also home to the Mother Vine, a Scuppernong vine said to be the oldest cultivated grapevine in the world. Pochahontas and Minnehaha were names of two other Garrett & Co wines.

Paul Garrett served as president of the company from 1889 until his death in 1940. His obituary in the March 20, 1940 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle provided some early history on Garrett and his company.

Mr. Garrett was born in Halifax County, N.C. and at the age of 17 started work in Garrett & Co., which had been founded in 1835 by his father and an uncle, and which was then located at Weldon N.C. He became president of the company when he was 25 and started on a program of expansion which led in following years to offices in Norfolk, Va., in California and finally to establishing national headquarters for the business in Brooklyn in 1911.

The first New York listing I can find for them is in the 1917 Telephone Directory. In the 1922 Copartnership and Corporation Directory of Brooklyn and Queens they’re listed as a distiller and rectifier of spirits. The address was 882 3rd Avenue (Building 10 of Bush Terminal).

The company managed to survive and even prosper during National Prohibition but it literally took an act of Congress. A story in the August 4, 1919 issue of Elmira N.Y.’s Star Gazette describes the company’s approach.

Paul Garrett of Garrett & Company, announces that he will buy grapes from the growers in this section as well as various other sections of country where his plants are located just as soon as the crop has matured sufficiently to be made into wine. Mr. Garrett will convert all of the fruit into wine, run it into the thousands of tanks and cases built for that purpose, let it age sufficiently and then transport the product to Brooklyn, where he has an immense plant at the Bush Terminal. Here the wine will be put through a secret process extracting the alcohol from it, and will then be marketed, a non-alcoholic pleasant beverage entirely in a class of its own and decidedly different from grape juice.

In order to do this it was necessary for Mr. Garrett to have a special act of Congress passed giving him permission to manufacture wine even though the country is dry, but the law requires him to give a bond of $200,000 to insure that there will be no violation of the prohibition laws of the various states in which he does business…

The alcohol taken from the wine, Mr. Garrett says will be used in the manufacture of extracts such as vanilla, lemon, orange, etc.

The bond demanded by Congress will increase proportionate to gallons of wine shipped until it will approximate a half million dollars. The product, although non-alcoholic, will be labeled wine and the regulation wine tax will be levied against each gallon manufactured.

According to a story in the June 26, 1920 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, this allowed them to save and even enlarge their Brooklyn plant and build a 2,000,000 gallon storage plant in St. Louis. It also saved five plants in North Carolina, five plants in western New York, one plant in Ohio and four along the Pacific Coast.

The story goes on to describe the Brooklyn operation in 1920.

The Brooklyn plant is the main distributing center for the East. It employs about 125 men and about 60 women in the bottling and packing and storing plants; about 25 in the office.

It turns out over 48,000 bottles of Virginia Dare non-alcoholic wine a day and between 50,000 and 75,000 bottles of Virginia Dare extracts between dawn and sunset.

It covers 175,000 square feet of floor space in Bush Loft No. 10. Its big vats, filled with 1,750,000 gallons of wine waiting to be de-alcoholized, are kept in the cellars of both Loft No. 9 and No. 10. Beyond all doubt, they are Brooklyn’s most valuable and least dangerous cellars.

A fleet of 100 big tank railroad cars is kept busy bringing in the wine for the de-alcoholizing process. These cars are all glass lined.

It has an annual capacity of over 15,000,000 quarts of wine. It has a capacity of over 20,000,000 bottles of extract.

A prohibition era advertisement for the de-alcoholized Virginia Dare wine featured a bottle similar to the one I found. The bottle’s finish has a bead that looks like it will accept a crown cap but below the bead it looks more like a brandy finish.

garret-ad

The flavoring extract side of the business was incorporated as the Virginia Dare Extract Company, Inc. in 1923. One of their advertisements that year touted a sherry wine made semi-solid: “If Mother Hubbard had only known about Virginia Dare the cupboard wouldn’t have been bare.”

The company continued to make wine (and champagne) after the end of Prohibition and according to one Internet account held 10,000 acres of cultivated vineyard in New York, North Carolina and California in 1945. The winemaking business was sold to Constellation brands in 1965.  The extract piece of the business continues to operate today.

The bottle I found is a quart size, machine made and most likely produced during the Prohibition years (one of 15 million per year!). I also found a 1 1/2 ounce machine made extract bottle embossed on the base: “Insist on Virginia Dare” and “Pat App for Favors”

          

Pichel & Schwab, 174 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY

pichel        

The business of Pichel and Schwab was first listed in the Brooklyn directories around 1897 as “liquors” at 174 Bedford Avenue. They are not listed in 1895. The business was listed in the various Brooklyn Directories up through 1920.  Most listings labeled them as either “liquors” or “wine merchants.”

1900 census records list Adolph Pichel, Jacob Schwab and his son Daniel, all living at 174 Bedford Avenue, so it appears they were the founders of the business.

Up through 1907 the business listed a single address at 174 Bedford Avenue, then in 1909 they added a second location at 1351 Fulton Street. Both of these addresses were listed between 1909 and 1914. The directory classifications generally labeled the Bedford Avenue location as “wholesale liquors” or “wine merchants.” The Fulton Street location was simply labeled liquors so it was probably the retail store.

The 1910 census records showed Adolph Pichel living on Bedford Ave and Daniel Schwab living on Fulton Street. Based on this I assume it was a relatively small operation with each living at or above one of the stores.

Over the years, they occasionally  listed other addresses as well including: Metropolitan Ave., corner of Graham and 48 Sumpter. I assume these were also retail locations.

In 1915 they dropped the Bedford Avenue address and just listed the single location on Fulton Street. By 1920 the business had moved to 278 Ralph Avenue, also in Brooklyn.

The business was almost certainly a victim of National Prohibition. The February, 1920 telephone book listed Pichel & Schwab, liquors, at 278 Ralph Avenue. Three months later, in the May listings, the business name had  changed to Pichel Products and 1920 census records listed Adolph Pichel’s occupation as “wholesale merchant – candy.”

Daniel Schwab was also included in the 1920 census with no occupation. By 1930 he was in the oil business

One of the products they were associated with was King David’s Monogram Whiskey. A Pichel and Schwab shot glass, exhibited on e-bay, advertised both the Bedford Avenue and Fulton Street addresses.

The building at 174 Bedford has recently been razed. In 2015 a new building was under construction there.

The bottle I found looks like a pretty common champagne style beer bottle. Based on the above research, it may have contained wine or at some point they also bottled beer. The bottle has a tooled blob finish (12 oz) embossed with the Bedford Ave address.