Nicholas Herbemont (1771-1839; great name for him) was a native of Champagne, France, who settled in South Carolina. He developed what is still today one of the best counter-measures to the disease problem: He grafted vinifera onto American rootstock, thereby limiting the damage from phylloxera. He developed new trellising systems which allowed better airflow, which reduced the effects of certain airborne grape diseases. And he developed Euro/American hybrid varieties of grapes which resisted some of those diseases. He did all this in the early 1800s. It is not too strong to suggest that this kind of individual innovation is truly what made America a great nation.
He was the first American winemaker to make American wines in the French style, seeking the highest quality instead of the table wines that the Spanish mission friars and the other early American winemakers were making. He strove to introduce fine wine to a nation drunk on hard cider and hard liquor.
He said, "Where wine is found the most abundant, there is found the most sobriety." He was a gentleman scholar, an "ethicist," and a "cheerful philosopher." His mantra was "Deal honestly with the land." Wow; that was 200 years ago, before the likes of John Deere and Monsanto appeared to ignore him and destroy our topsoil, flora and fauna. There is a new book out about Herbemont, which would be a welcome addition to the library of anyone interested in early United States history.