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From Demon to Darling

A Legal History of Wine in America

Richard Mendelson

Publication Year: 2009

Richard Mendelson brings together his expertise as both a Napa Valley lawyer and a winemaker into this accessible overview of American wine law from colonial times to the present. It is a story of fits and starts that provides a fascinating chronicle of the history of wine in the United States told through the lens of the law. From the country's early support for wine as a beverage to the moral and religious fervor that resulted in Prohibition and to the governmental controls that followed Repeal, Mendelson takes us to the present day—and to the emergence of an authentic and significant wine culture. He explains how current laws shape the wine industry in such areas as pricing and taxation, licensing, appellations, health claims and warnings, labeling, and domestic and international commerce. As he explores these and other legal and policy issues, Mendelson lucidly highlights the concerns that have made wine alternatively the demon or the darling of American society—and at the same time illuminates the ways in which lives and livelihoods are affected by the rise and fall of social movements.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Wine Is Life: A Foreword

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pp. xi-xiv

...I have always been fascinated—and often amused—by the intersection of wine and law, especially here in America. I was born and raised, you see, in the canton Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland. Every day our main meal, what we call lunch, was a celebration, and be it outside between rosebushes and hydrangeas or in our dining room, there was always a bottle of wine on the table. No fuss, no muss, it was part of our daily meal. My first memories are of my little glass of water slightly...

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pp. xv-xvi

...This labor of love, which arose from my Wine Law class at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law ("Berkeley Law"), has been supported by many people who have shared their knowledge, research, insights, and perspectives. They include, in alphabetical order, Nicholas Bergman, Lou Bright, Federico Castellucci, Paul Chutkow, Joe Ciatti, Neil Cohen, Joe Criscione, Dan Davis, John DeLuca...

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pp. xvii-xviii

...While the story of wine in America is captivating, the laws regulating wine and other alcoholic beverages are often hopelessly complex. For readers who are interested in this level of detail, I have included numerous legal citations and other supporting information in the backnotes. Readers who do not wish to be so distracted should disregard the backnote references...

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pp. 1-5

...Two weeks after I arrived at Oxford in September 1975, I rambled down a corner staircase in the main quadrangle of Magdalen College to a nondescript door marked "Wine Steward." Little did I know that it was the entrance to the college's massive underground cellars and my future career. Over the next two years those cellars served as my introduction to the world of wine and led me to France and then...

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1 Temperance

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pp. 6-49

...Since the early days of the republic, Americans have turned to the law to achieve their social goals with respect to wine, devising elaborate systems of legal incentives, subsidies, restrictions, and penalties in an effort to shape behavior. American laws since the early seventeenth century have regulated everything from the manufacture and marketing of wine to its distribution and consumption, and these laws have...

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2 National Prohibition

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pp. 50-93

...Prohibition from 1920 to 1933 attests to the truth of this adage. Even when the political, social, religious, and economic conditions in the country, along with widely accepted medical opinion, were aligned with the prohibitionists, and even after the closure of the nation's saloons, prohibitory laws could not stop Americans from drinking...

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3 Solving Problems Past

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pp. 94-136

...At the end of Prohibition, a sprawling illegal liquor industry existed in America, composed of numerous manufacturers and distributors ranging from small family-owned businesses to national criminal syndicates. Domestic producers by then were accustomed to making alcoholic beverages of varying strengths with whatever ingredients were available. They did not pay taxes, and they reported to no one. Distribution...

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4 Transforming Wine in American Culture

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pp. 137-186

...As Schoonmaker predicted, all that changed over the next twenty years as an authentic wine culture emerged and expanded in America. New wine drinkers, many of them college-educated, middle- to upper-middle-class Americans, tried new products, including flavored wines, roses, generic jug wines, and varietal wines, which were sold in supermarkets, specialty wine shops, and traditional liquor stores....

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pp. 187-190

...Wine in America is a story of fits and starts, of lost opportunities followed by progress, and then by setback. Much of this can be traced to wine's agricultural roots. Whereas the Founding Fathers were prepared to support a domestic wine industry, farmers lacked the expertise and plant material to grow decent-quality wine grapes. The propagation of hybridized vines solved that problem, but the winemakers then...


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pp. 191-260


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pp. 261-272


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pp. 273-302

E-ISBN-13: 9780520943209
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520268005

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2009