Collector’s Showcase: June 2015

Collector's Showcase: June 2015

Museum Sommelier

The collecting of wine and related accessories is not a unique or exclusive hobby, but for Jim McCormick it is a lifetime passion that has resulted in a collection that represents the history of viticulture and wine making in the state of California.

Jim started his collection over 30 years ago by buying and selling high-end corkscrews at antique shows such as Brimfield, and at flea markets and antique shops around the country and the world. “Then I began to see other wine related items. In the early days it was not such a popular field so it was easy to buy things and put a collection together. Then I got into the history aspect of it – the history and heritage of the California wine industry – and started expanding the collection to include implements and historical documents related to California.”


Today, Jim’s collection consists of over 4,500 items, and has grown to include wine bottles, bin and bottle labels, wine presses and crushers, cellarettes, corkscrews, wine thiefs, cellar lamps, funnels, wine baskets, scientific instruments, advertising posters and marketing ephemera – little groupings of collections in and of themselves.

When asked about his favorite acquisition, Jim talks about some of the marketing items related to the California Wine Association (a cartel of seven leading California wine firms formed in 1894 that controlled 80% of the wine business in California). His most prized piece is the elaborate, carved barrel head used for promotion at the 1894 S.F. Midwinter International Exposition from the winery of Gundlach-Bundschu, a Sonoma Valley winery “They are the oldest surviving family-owned winery in California. It’s a fabulous artifact and the carving is beautiful and has historical significance.”


More than just a hobby, Jim believes his collection is preserving and portraying the history and heritage of the California wine industry – the story and struggle of immigrants coming to California in the 19th century, their understanding of the terroir (the climate of the region, soil, weather – all the elements that make wine growing in CA so successful), and the role they played in cultivating the California wine industry. “I feel like my collection tells a story that needs to be told.”

To share his collection and its story with others, Jim created an online museum of images, and launched the web site www.wineandvinethings.com. He is also involved with a group that will be buying the collection as the backdrop for the first historical wine museum in California. A non-profit has already been formed. It will be known as WINESEUM, The California Wine Museum. It is slated to open mid-year 2016. This museum will be in the heart of the “Wine Country,” Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County. Not only will this museum show the history and heritage of the California wine industry but what’s happening today, and the science and technology that will influence the industry in the years to come. It will be a state-of-the-art, interactive, hands-on museum populated by items from his collection, as well as donations from other collectors and wineries. “Every vineyard and winery in California will be represented, and the museum will provide a unique tasting facility where visitors can taste wines from all over the State of California.”


In preparation for the opening of the museum, Jim is still actively buying items for his collection, and is particularly interested in acquiring documents, trade cards, marketing and promotional items, and advertising.

He welcomes readers to contact him at Findings@pacbell.net with suitable and related items. For now, the California Wine Museum can be viewed at www.californiawinemuseum.com.

Collector’s Showcase: June 2015
Dear Readers – Have a collection you are passionate about and would love to share? We welcome your photos and a short story about your collection.
Send your photos and information to Robin at editorial@journalofantiques.com or mail to Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, PO Box 950, Sturbridge, MA 01566.