German wines have always been
sweet”; the patience needed to age dry Rieslings
to their peak; the high prices of Charta wines,
owing partially to the strength of the German
mark; and a “f lat market for German premium
winesinAmerica” (H. Goldberg 1993). How-
ever, influential importers (initially the likes of
Schoonmaker and Valckenberg, then Terry
Theise and Rudi Wiest) were slow to adopt
dry wines, finding few exemplars to their taste
until well into the 1990s. The Theise and Wiest
portfolios now show substantial shares of
trocken wines. In 2013, Theise
can seem like an outlier. It’s possible
to ripen or burn the exotic elements out of the wine, but such practices may be some sort
of Faustian bargain: without that exotic element, Syrah would seem to be missing its soul.
Along with Pinot Noir, Syrah is arguably the most soulful red wineinAmerican soil.
Syrah frequently has impressive fruit, but to judge Syrah on fruit alone is to sell its
merits short. It is the variety’s most consistent feature: a dark, plummy, deep core of
blue-black fruits, currant, cassis, blueberry, mulberry, plum, or the darkest of
Phillips, Sara T. Th is Land, Th is Nation: Conservation, Rural America and the New
Deal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Pielou, E. C. Aft er the Ice Age: Th e Return of Life to Glaciated North America. Chi-
cago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Pinney, Th omas. A History of WineinAmerica: From Prohibition to the Present.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
Pintarich, Paul. Th e Boys Up North: Dick Erath and the Early Oregon Winemakers.
Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center, 1997.
Piott, Steven L. Giving Voters a Voice: Th e
relative unavailability of legal beer and spirits,
Prohibition was a destructive force for the domestic wine industry and re-
tarded its development by at least a generation. In California, the more than
seven hundred pre-Prohibition wineries declined to 177 by 1933.137 Produc-
tion of wineinAmerica at lawful, bonded wineries fell from a high of over
forty-five million gallons pre-Prohibition to three million gallons in 1930,
when the wine industry was laboring under the burdens of both Prohibi-
tion and the Depression.138 Some wineries obtained permits as bonded ware
Classes not only were renamed; they were re-created to help expand the
marketplace for wineinAmerica. In the early 19505, the marketing whiz
Ernest Gallo of E. & J. Gallo Winery, having seen liquor stores attach en-
velopes of lemon Kool-Aid to bottles of Gallo white port,194 invented a
lemon-flavored fortified wine called Thunderbird. Before Gallo could pro-
duce and market the wine, federal law had to be amended to recognize
this type of wine. Congress did so in 1954, expanding the "special natural
wine" designation to include any flavored natural wine, including a
prominence of Michi-
gan as a summer resort and tourist attraction for the whole of the Midwest has also been
a boost to the winemakers, since they can count on large crowds of summer people for
whom a winery is a novel attraction and wine an interestingly exotic commodity.
The gradual reemergence of a winegrowing industry in Missouri is a good illustra-
tion of the many and complex interests at work. Missouri is in some ways the most in-
teresting and challenging of the central states—interesting because of its considerable
historical contribution to the story of winein
, had the potential to yield wine both cheap and good: all that was
wanted was "skilful labourers." No account of the history of wineinAmerica is
complete without at least a bare summary of "Jefferson and wine."94
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INDUSTRY
FROM THE REVOLUTION TO THE BEGINNINGS OF AN INDUSTRY 127
We have already touched briefly on Jefferson's part in Philip Mazzei's Vineyard
Society just before the outbreak of the Revolution. Soon after, Jefferson had been
transformed from country gentleman and provincial lawyer into a world-famous
statesman, but he had never
consumption.”43 When a survey found wine drinkers to
deny that such statements would encourage them to drink more, the
Treasury Department approved them, saying that “under existing law,
[B]ATF can only deny labeling statements if they are false or misleading”;
these were neither, because all they did was to direct consumers to
sources of information.44 The Wine Institute heralded this decision as an
“historic breakthrough . . . a defining new chapter in the evolution of fed-
eral policy towards wineinAmerica.”45 Observers viewed this decision
as opening the door to the
following over time. In terms of label count, wineinAmerica is almost
entirely composed of distinctive wines of place. But these do not appear
at your local Safeway.
Anyone who hasn’t tried it can’t possibly imagine how much work is
required to establish a new brand in national distribution today. In
truth, there is almost no receptivity for a new player outside the norm.
You would think that all that web-kvetching about terroir would show
up in the marketplace in a way a guy could use to build a brand.
In your dreams, maybe. It’s strange to spend all
successful winemaking had
I 2 's western Washington, Lambert
424 THE INDUSTRY ACROSS THE NATION
at last been established and when the economic possibilities of newly settled re-
gions were being explored for the first time. The point I especially want to make is
that the current ferment of interest in wineinAmerica is not so much a new thing
as it is a return to and a continuation of an earlier state of things. Prohibition and
its lingering effects have obscured that fact from us. It is now time to consider what
Prohibition was, where it came from, and what it did.