Paul LaBrousse, an Early Winemaker in Southwark

Paul LaBrousse (also known as Paul L’Abrousse or Paul Le Bruce or Paul LaBrousse Dubreuil) was born in 1758 in France. A few years after moving to Philadelphia, Paul LaBrousse established a vineyard on the former Bankson family plantation in Southwark.

Believe it or not, some of our early colonists thought that Pennsylvania offered ideal conditions for harvesting grapes and producing wine. Shortly after arriving on this side of the Atlantic, William Penn boasted of discovering an “extraordinary” native grape plant which could be “cultivated into an excellent wine.” According to estate records, Penn had installed a vineyard at “Springettsbury Manor,” his property located outside of the city, in the neighborhood we know today as Francisville. Unfortunately, Penn’s attempts to produce wine were ultimately unsuccessful as all of his grape vines had reportedly died by 1699. Francis Pastorius, the founder of Germantown, had also experimented with winemaking at his own estate around the same time with little success.