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Soft Soil, Black GrapesThe Birth of Italian Winemaking in California$
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Simone Cinotto

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814717387

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814717387.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Soft Soil, Black Grapes

Simone Cinotto

NYU Press

This book explores the role played by Italians in shaping California's wine industry. It examines why, of all the many ethnic and immigrant groups in turn-of-the-twentieth-century California, Italians were the ones who came to dominate one of the state's most important agricultural industries. It argues that it was the social and cultural capital stemming from the racial identity of Italian immigrants that made it possible for them to attract a nationwide Italian American consumer base and develop their commercial networks. The book profiles three wineries, all founded and run by first- and second-generation Italian immigrants who eventually succeeded in expanding California winemaking into a mass-market operation and turning wine into a national beverage: the Italian Swiss Colony winery of Asti in Sonoma County, the Italian Vineyard Company of Secondo Guasti, and the E. and J. Gallo Winery of Ernest and Julio Gallo.

Keywords:   wine industry, California, racial identity, Italian immigrants, wineries, winemaking, Italian Swiss Colony, Italian Vineyard Company, E. and J. Gallo Winery

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