Monday, August 23, 2010

Winemaking during Prohibition

During Prohibition, large numbers of people began making their own alcoholic beverages at home. To do so, they often used bricks of wine, sometimes called blocks of wine. To meet the booming demand for grape juice, California grape growers increased their area about 700% in the first five years of prohibition. The juice was commonly sold as "bricks or blocks of Rhine Wine," "blocks of port," and so on along with a warning:"After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine."

One grape block producer sold nine varieties: Port, Virginia Dare, Muscatel, Angelica, Tokay, Sauterne, Riesling, Claret and Burgundy.

... During Prohibition, many California wineries shut down and wine production plummeted, but the grape harvest actually increased. The smart money cleaned up by not making wine. Instead they grew grapes by the long ton — getting millions in federal loans for new vineyards – and sold DIY wine kits.Ukiah Grape Products Co. sold fermentable juice and got clean away with it until a federal judge thought it a bit much that Ukiah agents, in outstanding displays of on-site service, made house calls to bottle their clients’ wine.
Fruit Industries Ltd. also sold juices and concentrates, and is even now fondly remembered for Vine-Glo—‘bricks’ of dried grapes sold complete with packets of yeast and stern warnings to keep the two away from water lest the unthinkable occur.

(Actually, what occurred was the undrinkable) ...

Courtesy of Brian Miller.

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