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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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Wine and the Alchemy of Race I

Wine and the Alchemy of Race I

The Social and Cultural Economy of Italian Regionalism

(p.183) Chapter 9 Wine and the Alchemy of Race I
Soft Soil, Black Grapes

Simone Cinotto

NYU Press

This chapter examines how the dynamics of race influenced the “modes of incorporation” of Piedmontese winemakers in California. More specifically, it explains how race helped Piedmontese winemakers achieve greater success compared to other Italian immigrants. It also considers the Piedmontese immigrants' flexibility in adapting to the segregation imposed on them by the stigma and risks of wine production itself, which forced competitors of other nationalities to flee the industry. Focusing on the histories of the Italian Swiss Colony, the Italian Vineyard Company, and the E. and J. Gallo Winery, the chapter shows how Italian immigrant regionalism—the affiliation with a single region of Italy—in late nineteenth-century California grew out of the local, village-centered identities that linked labor migrants to their native paesi and emerged as an alternative to nationalism. It argues that Piedmontese immigrants benefited from this new regional identity to establish and secure their hegemony over wine well into the twentieth century.

Keywords:   race, modes of incorporation, Piedmont, winemakers, California, Italian immigrants, segregation, wine production, regionalism, regional identity

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