PROHIBITION AND THE FRESH GRAPE DEAL, 1919–1933
WINE INDUSTRY LEADERS WERE TRYING TO SELL MORE THAN WINE AT the Panama-Pacific Exposition. By 1915 the threat of national legislation prohibiting commerce in alcoholic beverages was palpable. Before the exposition, industry leaders had sent a team of filmmakers around the state collecting material for a movie on California winegrowing. Shown to more than one hundred thousand visitors to the Expo's Wine Palace, the film depicted California wine as the product of happy, solid farmers and dedicated entrepreneurs whose tidy wineries placed a healthy beverage on the tables of ordinary Americans. There was almost nothing on the growing industrialization of California wine. There was nothing on the grape brandy and fortified ports and sherries commonly sold in American saloons.
But this and other attempts by Californians to resist the threat of prohibition were useless in the face of Anti-Saloon League propaganda and a wave of patriotic fervor after America entered World War I in 1917. Most Americansknew nothing about wine, except that immigrants and rich people drank lots of it. The Eighteenth Amendment, outlawing the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, was ratified in 1919 and went into effect January 16, 1920. Congress could have ruled table wine exempt from this