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Brand, Virgil Michael (16 January 1862–20 June 1926), brewer and numismatist, was born in Blue Island, Illinois, the son of Michael Brand, a cooper and brewer, and Philippine Darmstädter, the daughter of a flour merchant. Michael Brand was born in Odernheim near Alzey in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt (not to be confused with the larger village of the same name in the Palatinate) and is said to have left Germany because he was involved in the Revolution of 1848. This is certainly possible, but many German immigrants who left for economic reasons later claimed they had left for political reasons, because it was more glamorous. Philippine Darmstädter was born in Framersheim, the next village over from Odernheim. Michael Brand established a brewery in Chicago under his own name, and it became one of the most prosperous breweries in the city. The firm was one of the very first to adopt Carl von Linde’s refrigeration machine, which meant that the company had an incalculable advantage over its competitors: in the summer, its beer was cold. Michael Brand became extremely wealthy, and in 1890, after a series of mergers, he sold out to English investors, who formed the United States Brewing Company. Michael Brand also established orchards at Brandsville in the Missouri Ozarks, where he sought to encourage viticulture. He owned an extensive library, and he must have had a great love for the classics, for he named his three sons Virgil, Horace, and Armin....

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Busch, Adolphus (10 July 1839–10 October 1913), company executive, was born at Mayence-on-the-Rhine, Hesse (in what is now Germany), the twenty-first child of Ulrich Busch, a wealthy land and vineyard owner and merchant; his mother, Barbara Pfeiffer, was Ulrich Busch’s second wife. Educated at the Gymnasium in Mainz, the Academy of Darmstadt, and the pre-university school of Brussels, Busch spoke fluent French, German, and English and had some facility with Spanish and Italian. He briefly worked for his father and then for a mercantile house in Cologne. In 1857 he followed several older brothers to America, going directly to St. Louis, Missouri, where his first job was as a clerk on a river steamer....

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Busch, August Anheuser, Jr. (28 March 1899–29 September 1989), corporate executive and philanthropist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of brewmaster August Anheuser Busch, Sr., and Alice Zisemann. Busch, known as “Gussie,” was accustomed to wealth and was steeped in a rich family tradition from his grandfather, ...

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Coors, Adolph (1847–05 June 1929), brewing magnate, was born Adolph Herman Joseph Coors in rural Barmen, Prussia (now Wuppertal, Germany), the eldest child of Joseph Coors, a flour miller, and Helene Coors. When Adolph was a young child, the Coorses moved to the city of Dortmund so that his father could find work. On finishing grammar school at age fourteen, Adolph, with his father's assistance, took an apprenticeship in the business office of the Wenker Brewery, just across the street from the Coorses' home. The next year, in 1862, both parents died of tuberculosis—his mother in April and his father eight months later. Adolph's two siblings, William and Helene, were put into a Catholic orphanage, but Adolph continued his work as bookkeeper and apprentice at the brewery....

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Daniel, Jack (05 September 1850?–10 October 1911), distiller, was born Jasper Newton Daniel in Lynchburg, Tennessee, the son of Calaway Daniel. His mother's name and the exact date of his birth are unknown, a fire in the Lynchburg courthouse having destroyed his birth records. He grew up as one of thirteen children in the small town of Lynchburg, the county seat of Moore County, about seventy miles southeast of Nashville. At the age of seven, “Jack,” who had been raised by a family friend, was sent to work on a farm owned by Dan Call, a Lutheran minister who owned a whiskey still....

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de Latour, Georges (20 October 1856?–28 February 1940), California wine maker, was born Georges Marie Joseph de Latour in the village of Daglan near Sarlat in France's Perigord region. Although hardly a mystery man, biographers, obituarists, and even descendants are unsure of the year of de Latour's birth (some sources give 1858) and unable to provide the Christian names of his parents, although it is agreed that they were landed gentry who died when he was very young....

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Fleischmann, Charles Louis (03 November 1834–10 December 1897), yeast manufacturer and inventor, was born near Budapest, Hungary, the son of Alois (or Abraham) Fleischmann, a distiller and yeast maker, and Babette (maiden name unknown). Following his education in Vienna and Prague, Fleischmann began his business career at age nineteen as a general store clerk in Tasgendorf, Austria. He emigrated to the United States as did his six siblings. While eating at his sister’s wedding in New York in 1866, he concluded that the inferior liquid yeast used in baking resulted in a poor quality American bread and determined to create a reliable, solid yeast. After the wedding Fleischmann returned to Austria to retrieve a superior strain of yeast that his father had developed. Returning to the United States permanently, he worked in a New York City distilling business for two years before moving in 1868 to Cincinnati, Ohio....

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Gallo, Julio (21 March 1910–02 May 1993), vintner and wine industrialist, was born in Oakland, California, the son of Joseph “Giuseppe” Gallo, Sr., a tavern owner and winemaker from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, a noted wine-producing area, and Assunta Bianco. Gallo spent most of his teenage years on his father’s vineyards near Modesto, California, graduating from Modesto High School in 1929. Before, during, and after school, he worked for his father, as did his older brother Ernest and his younger brother Joseph. Giuseppe began his winemaking career during Prohibition because a legislative “loophole” allowed home winemakers to produce 200 gallons per year for home consumption. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Giuseppe Gallo increased the family’s production, founded the Gallo Wine Company, and soon became a major supplier of grapes for the national markets....

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Armand Hammer Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114806 ).

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Hammer, Armand (21 May 1898–10 December 1990), entrepreneur and philanthropist, was born on the Lower East Side of New York City, the son of Russian-born Julius Hammer, a pharmacist and physician, and Rose Robinson. Hammer’s childhood economic circumstances were better than those of many of his immigrant contemporaries. When he was still a child, his family moved to the Bronx, where his father balanced a quest for a medical degree with the demands of his drugstores. Hammer attended Morris High School and in 1917 registered at Columbia Heights Premedical School. Two years later he enrolled at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, from which he graduated in June 1921....

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Haraszthy de Mokcsa, Agoston (30 August 1812–06 July 1869), pioneer and winegrower, was born in Futtak, in the county of Backsa, Hungary, the son of General Charles Haraszthy de Mokcsa and Anna Halasz. According to tradition, he was the descendant of a noble family long associated with agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, and even sericulture. After receiving a classical Greek and Latin education, as well as experience in managing the family estate, Haraszthy, at age eighteen, became a member of the imperial bodyguard of Austria-Hungary’s Emperor Ferdinand. In 1834 Haraszthy married Eleanora Dödinsky, a refugee from the revolution that was crushed in Poland in 1831. The couple had three children. By 1835 he had become the private secretary to the viceroy of the palatinate of Hungary, Archduke Joseph. Haraszthy was also said to have been the hereditary lord lieutenant of his home county, a magistrate there, and an ex officio delegate to the Diet. But he became involved in the revolutionary movement sweeping Europe, and after his friend, the reformer Louis Kossuth, was arrested in 1837, Haraszthy had to retire to his estate. He apparently became persona non grata, was virtually banished, and was consequently forced to emigrate in 1840....

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Harnett, Cornelius, Jr. (20 April 1723?–28 April 1781), politician and Revolutionary leader, was born in eastern North Carolina, probably in Chowan County, the son of Cornelius Harnett, a merchant, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). As a provincial leader of resistance against British policies from 1765 to 1776, Cornelius Harnett, Jr., had few equals. He also did yeoman service for the American cause as a dependable delegate to the Continental Congress. This merchant and distiller of rum has been called the “Pride of the Cape Fear” and the “Samuel Adams of North Carolina.”...

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Lopez, Aaron (1731–28 May 1782), merchant, was born Duarte Lopez in Lisbon, Portugal, the son of Diego Lopez (mother’s name unknown). Nothing is known of his childhood or education. He abandoned his Christian name Duarte, his parents, and his native land of Portugal when he left Lisbon in 1752 with his wife, Anna, setting sail for the British colony of Rhode Island. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Moses (born José), who had fled religious persecution in the 1730s, going first to New York, and then by 1749 to the seaport town of Newport, Rhode Island, a city known for its religious tolerance. By the time Aaron (as he now called himself) arrived in America, Moses had already established himself as a merchant in the thriving commercial entrepôt. When Aaron Lopez arrived in Newport, he was welcomed by the small Jewish community there, gained easy access to credit, and quickly began to develop a business that would make him Newport’s “merchant prince” by 1770....

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Manigault, Gabriel (21 April 1704–05 June 1781), merchant and planter, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Pierre Manigault and Judith Giton. Manigault’s father, an immigrant Huguenot, had engaged in farming in the Georgetown area before moving to Charleston. There, after several years as a cooper and victualer, he turned to distilling brandy and rum and then to merchandising, laying the foundation before his death in 1729 of what was to become, under Gabriel Manigault, the largest fortune in South Carolina (and quite possibly in America) before the Revolution. Manigault (without formal college training) became a wealthy merchant, operating in a number of markets, especially the West Indies and the northern mainland colonies. He exported in his own fleet of ships regional items such as rice, naval stores, lumber, shingles, leather, deerskins, corn, beef, peas, and pork and imported such commodities as rum, sugar, wine, oil, textiles, and wheat flour. He was also a private banker, lending vast sums from his great personal resources....

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Mondavi, Rosa Grassi (28 March 1890–04 July 1976), boardinghouse operator and company president, was born in Sassoferrato, Italy. Her parents, Giovanni Grassi and Lucia (maiden name unknown), were farmers. She had no formal schooling and was trained in the domestic arts of cooking and home maintenance, by which she earned her living....

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Gustave Niebaum. Courtesy of the Wine Institute Historical Photo Archives.

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Niebaum, Gustave Ferdinand (30 August 1842–05 August 1908), fur trader and wine maker, was born Gustav or Gustave Nybom in Helsingfors (now Helsinki), the son of a police official of Swedish and Baltic-German stock; his parents' names do not appear in currently accessible records. Finland at the time was a semiautonomous grand duchy of Russia. Niebaum became a sailor, but not just an ordinary seaman. Intelligent and a graduate of a gymnasium, Europe's equivalent of an American high school, he enrolled in Helsinki's Nautical Institute. Graduating at nineteen, he soon secured his master's papers and was in command of his own ship by 1864, in the service of the Russian American Company, sailing to Alaska....

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O’Hara, James (?1752–16 December 1819), revolutionary war officer, businessman, and manufacturer, was born in County Mayo, Ireland, the son of Major John O’Hara. (His mother’s name is not known.) The young O’Hara left Ireland in 1765 to attend the Jesuit College of St. Sulpice in Paris. In 1770 he briefly served in the Regiment of the British Coldstream Guards. The next year he resigned the ensign’s commission granted to him by his relative, Lord Tyrawley, and briefly worked in a ship broker’s office in Liverpool, acquiring business skills....

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Petri, Angelo (05 September 1883–04 October 1961), and Louis Petri (13 October 1912–07 April 1980), vintners, were born respectively, in Marseilles, France, and San Francisco, California. Angelo was the son of Raffaelo Petri, a hotel owner and vintner, and Rosina Bertolucci. His parents, who had moved from Lucca, Italy, to France, immigrated to the United States in 1886; they operated a hotel in San Francisco and ran a small winery on the side. So successful was his product during World War I that in 1916 Raffaelo and a partner bought a vineyard and a winery in the San Joaquin Valley. Angelo came to the United States in 1895 and attended elementary school in San Francisco. He left school at the end of the decade to work for his uncle Amadeo Petri making and selling hand-rolled cigars. In 1907 he married Amelia Guidi, with whom he had two sons, the younger of whom was Louis. The Petri-Italian-American Cigar Company prospered, its strong, black stogies known as toscani finding a large market among Italian Americans in the West. Angelo Petri became president of the firm in 1912 and increased the sales of Marca Petri cigars by aggressive merchandising and advertising. Under his direction, the company became the largest producer of cigars west of Chicago, with annual sales in the mid-1920s exceeding $50 million. Responding to a demand for cheaper and milder cigars, Petri introduced a standardized machine-made product that ranked among the most popular middle-priced cigars on the market....

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