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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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White Labor and Happy Families

White Labor and Happy Families

Race, Social Capital, and Paternalism

(p.129) Chapter Seven White Labor and Happy Families
Soft Soil, Black Grapes

Simone Cinotto

NYU Press

This chapter examines how Piedmont-born winemakers articulated a narrative of ethnic identity that took advantage of the specific racial and racist structure of California society while also aiming at interclass national solidarity. Through the recruitment and control of their workforce, Piedmontese winemakers got the best return for their social capital—an ethnic asset that is especially evident in the cases of the Italian Swiss Colony and the Italian Vineyard Company. The chapter considers how the racialization of California's labor market made it possible for winemakers Pietro Carlo Rossi and Secondo Guasti to use their ethnicity (that is, their Piedmontese origins) as a particularly potent weapon to succeed in the local wine industry. It also explains the concomitance of low wages and low labor conflict in Piedmontese wineries in terms of social capital, race, and paternalism.

Keywords:   winemakers, ethnic identity, California, Italian Swiss Colony, Italian Vineyard Company, labor market, wine industry, social capital, race, paternalism

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