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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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The Success of Italian Winemakers in California and the “Pavesian Myth”

The Success of Italian Winemakers in California and the “Pavesian Myth”

(p.25) Chapter One The Success of Italian Winemakers in California and the “Pavesian Myth”
Soft Soil, Black Grapes

Simone Cinotto

NYU Press

This chapter examines the factors that accounted for the success of three California wineries: 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. It first provides a background on Piedmont, the place where the Italian immigrants who founded the three wineries came from. It then considers the myth of a “Piedmont on the Pacific” and its inclusion in the work of novelist Cesare Pavese. It argues that traditional explanations for the success of Rossi, Guasti, and the Gallos are not only essentialist and determinist, but also laden with stereotypes. Finally, it discusses how similarities in landscape, ecology, and climate between California and Italy have contributed to the achievements of Piedmontese winemakers as well as the successful transplantation of Old World wine culture and expertise from Langhe and Monferrato to the U.S. west coast.

Keywords:   wineries, California, Italian Swiss Colony, Italian Vineyard Company, Secondo Guasti, E. and J. Gallo Winery, Ernest and Julio Gallo, Piedmont, Italian immigrants, Cesare Pavese

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