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A History of Wine in America

From Prohibition to the Present

Thomas Pinney

Publication Year: 2005

A History of Wine in America is the definitive account of winemaking in the United States, first as it was carried out under Prohibition, and then as it developed and spread to all fifty states after the repeal of Prohibition. Engagingly written, exhaustively researched, and rich in detail, this book describes how Prohibition devastated the wine industry, the conditions of renewal after Repeal, the various New Deal measures that affected wine, and the early markets and methods. Thomas Pinney goes on to examine the effects of World War II and how the troubled postwar years led to the great wine boom of the late 1960s, the spread of winegrowing to almost every state, and its continued expansion to the present day.

The history of wine in America is, in many ways, the history of America and of American enterprise in microcosm. Pinney's sweeping narrative comprises a lively cast of characters that includes politicians, bootleggers, entrepreneurs, growers, scientists, and visionaries. Pinney relates the development of winemaking in states such as New York and Ohio; its extension to Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and other states; and its notable successes in California, Washington, and Oregon. He is the first to tell the complete and connected story of the rebirth of the wine industry in California, now one of the most successful winemaking regions in the world.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

List of Illustrations, Maps

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pp. ix-xiii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

This book is a continuation of my History of Wine in America: From the Beginnings to Prohibition, published by the University of California Press in 1989. Although the two books are connected, they have had to take very different forms. The task of the first volume was mainly to recover the story of repeated eªorts to establish a wine industry that repeatedly...

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1. Forms of Life in a Dry World

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pp. 1-33

On 16 January 1919 the senators of the Nebraska state legislature, by a vote of thirty-one to one, ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic drink throughout the nation. With the Nebraska vote, the amendment received the required support of a two-thirds majority of the states for it to...

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2. The Rules Change

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pp. 34-52

When the New Deal was yet young and Repeal still so recent that no one knew how things would develop, at least one man in Washington had a vision of what the future of wine in this country might be. This was Rexford Guy Tugwell, a member of President Roosevelt’s Brain Trust, that small group of bright, mostly young academics with...

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3. The Dismal '30s

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pp. 53-76

At the beginning of 1934, when a winemaker, returning to his newly legalized business, looked around him to see what his prospects were, he would have found little enough to cheer him. The economic depression, surpassing in length and intensity anything ever known in this country, showed no signs of lifting. The legislatures of state after state were...

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4. Making and Selling Wine in the ’30s

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pp. 77-94

In 1933, before Repeal had come to pass but when its coming was already certain, Lou Stralla, having heard that the wine business might be a good thing, decided that he would give it a try, even though he knew nothing about wine or winemaking.1 Stralla took a simple and direct path: he approached the wealthy J. K. Mo‹tt, who owned the historic Charles...

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5. Countercurrents

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pp. 95-117

In 1932, as the prospect of Repeal began to seem not merely possible but probable, the Grape Growers League was created in order to work for the legalization of wine within the Volstead Act, or, more boldly, for Repeal itself.1 When the passage of Repeal became certain but before it had been passed, the Grape Growers League, in September 1933, transformed...

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6. Wine in the War Years

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pp. 118-138

The chance that the war that was declared in September 1939 would open up the world to American wines—an exciting thought rather widely shared at one time—was more theoretical than real.1 Those few parts of Europe that were not caught up in the war were not much interested in American wines, even supposing one could safely transport them...

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7. Postwar Disappointments

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pp. 139-160

By the end of the war, late in 1945, the winemakers of the United States were like nervous racehorses at the starting gate, eagerly waiting for the signal to go. The end of wartime regulations and the easing of restrictions on materials and supplies did not happen at a single stroke, but conditions were sufficiently changed by the beginning of 1946 to make...

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8. Back East

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pp. 161-191

The immediate postwar years are a convenient point from which to take a survey of American winegrowing outside California. In common with their California counterparts, the winegrowers in the rest of the country had had to endure Prohibition, struggle through the Depression years, and hang on during the war. Now, in the first moment of the postwar...

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9. Changing Weather

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pp. 192-223

For many years after the war, the number of wineries in California continued its steady decline: there were 414 in 1945, 374 in 1950; not until 1970 was the decline arrested, then turned around.1 Over the same period, there was a gradual but steady increase in production. California produced 116 million gallons of wine in 1945; ten years later the figure...

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10. The Big Change: California

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pp. 224-252

In 1960 Julian Street’s widow, Marguerite, was preparing a new edition of her husband’s pioneering book, Wines: Their Selection, Care, and Service, originally published in 1933 for the instruction and guidance of an American public in its regained freedom to drink.1 Julian Street had died in 1947, but his book continued to be read. His widow had prepared...

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11. A New Dawn (I): The Northern and Central States

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pp. 253-285

At the beginning of the 1960s things had never been so good at the Taylor Wine Company. Founded in 1880 in the little town of Hammondsport at the foot of Keuka Lake, where winemaking began in New York, Taylor had survived Prohibition, the Great Depression, the war, and the postwar collapse of the wine market. Shrewd management and...

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12. A New Dawn (II): The South

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pp. 286-306

Maryland, quite apart from anything else that might be accomplished there, will always have an important place in the modern history of American winegrowing as the scene of Philip Wagner’s pioneering and deeply influential work.1 Starting in the early ’30s Wagner was the inspiration and the guide for countless enthusiastic grape growers and...

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13. The West without California

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pp. 307-338

Washington and Oregon, the two states that complete the Pacific Coast of the United States between California and Canada, are both schizoid territories. The Cascade Range runs north and south like a spine through both states, about a quarter of the way along their west-to-east dimension. On the western, maritime side, where the ocean is cooled by the...

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14. California to the Present Day

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pp. 339-369

Since the revolution occurred in American wine, the wine industry’s road in California has often been bumpy and difficult, but never enough to turn back a steady movement of growth. A comparison of the figures from 1970, when the revolution had clearly begun, with those from the end of the century in 2000 shows the direction quite clearly.1...


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pp. 371-480

Sources and Works Cited

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pp. 481-506


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pp. 507-532

E-ISBN-13: 9780520941489
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520254305

Page Count: 548
Publication Year: 2005