By October 1798, John James Dufour established the first successful commercial vineyard and winery in America, which he fittingly named “The First Vineyard,” consisting of about 630 acres. Dufour, a native of Switzerland, came to America two years prior with the specific intent to set up a Swiss colony and winery. It was located about 25 miles from Lexington, Kentucky. There were vineyard attempts in Virginia as early as 1619, none of them were commercially successful until “The First Vineyard.”
According to “The First Vineyard” website:
In 1801, 17 other Swiss immigrants – Dufour’s family and friends – joined him at the Sugar Creek site. The vineyard and winery’s location was lost to history from the mid 1800’s until its rediscovery in 2002. Now that the exact location of the vineyard and winery has been determined, the property owner is carefully reconstructing and restoring both the vineyard and winery.
While Indiana boosts that it was home to the first successful wine production vineyard in the United States, it does need to share part of that billing with the original “The First Vineyard.” Dufour’s first venture did in fact succeed for a few years when no other vineyards did. Through this first vineyard/winery, he made an important discovery that directly led to the success of his second venture. It can be stated that “The First Vineyard” was the first successfully established winery and vineyard while the Vevay winery was the first successful wine production vineyard in the United States.
Because of his winery efforts and European/Native grape variety discovery, Dufour is considered one of the pioneer viticulturists in America.