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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 II

Wine and the Alchemy of Race II


(p.207) Chapter 10 Wine and the Alchemy of Race II
Soft Soil, Black Grapes

Simone Cinotto

NYU Press

This chapter examines how the stigma of foreignness that the temperance movement and its political supporters attached to the production, commerce, and consumption of wine—which culminated in the national Prohibition of 1920–1933—affected Piedmontese winemakers in California. It discusses the racial implications of Prohibition and how the Eighteenth Amendment established the image of winemaking as one in which Italian immigrants indulged in particular, adding to it the stigma of illegality, while also offering them new and unexpected opportunities as a result of their near monopoly of the wine industry. It also considers how the growing stigma of anti-Americanism affecting those who produced and sold beer, wine, and liquor drove many Catholic immigrants from Central-Southern Europe to work in these trades; this trend was also evident in wine production throughout California, where Italian winemakers were able to create a semiformal ethnic economy that would allow them and subsequent generations of entrepreneurs to make substantial profits.

Keywords:   foreignness, temperance movement, Prohibition, Piedmont, winemakers, California, Italian immigrants, wine industry, anti-Americanism, ethnic economy

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