According to an old family story, in 1854 an Italian peddler from California sold Britt his first fruit tree and When he planted these in his garden he laid the earliest foundation for Southern Oregon’s wine and orchard industries. As Britt acquired more property, he developed a twenty-acre commercial orchard and expansive grape vineyards on a ranch about a mile outside of Jacksonville. Britt was acquainted with knowledgeable horticulturalists throughout the country and stayed well informed in the latest cultivation methods. In his orchards he used smudging techniques to protect his trees from frost and raised bees to improve pollination. Not one to miss a single entrepreneurial opportunity, he sold the honey from his bees as a sideline. Notations in his diary indicate Britt planted a lot of grapes in 1861. By the 1870s he had experimented with over 200 varieties and was marketing wine under his Valley View Vineyard label. Because of his vast experience, agriculturists frequently sought his advice as they established their own commercial fruit crops.
PHOTO: Detail from SOHS 00763