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21st amendment

  • Repealed!

    December 3, 2019 16:11

    Repealed!

    December 5 marks the anniversary of the end of a long dry time in America. Each year, especially in wine country, we celebrate the end of Prohibition by raising a glass or two on the anniversary of Repeal of the 18th Ammendment-December 5, 1933. Prohibition itself played an important role in how we got into winegrowing. In fact, if Prohibition hadn’t happened I’m not sure we’d be in the wine business today.

    The tale has been lost to history as to why my grandparents bought 90 acres in 1927. I think it is because my grandfather, who arrived to the U.S. from Italy as a teenager, wanted a piece of land he could call his own after working on other farms. The property included 25 acres of vineyard, a home and a shuttered winery. It was sold by the Canata family who could no longer shoulder the debt of owning the land-and there may have been more to the story there as well, also lost to history. Even though Prohibition began in 1919 if you still owned vineyard you could sell grapes to home winemakers if they were a ‘head of household’ and obtained the permit from the federal government. Each household could make 200 gallons of wine per year.

    Now let’s think about this for a moment: this totals 84 cases or about 4 gallons per week. 20 bottles a week, or just shy of 3 bottles per day. Big families? Tradition? Thirsty? Many of these home winemakers had wine in their DNA-or at least were accustomed to enjoying wine with their meals every day. These were families from the old country with traditions which included wine on the table. Thanks to these home winemakers who bought grapes they also kept some vineyards growing through this period—and helped wineries reboot once Repeal rolled around. Statistically, the story is a sad one for Dry Creek Valley. Before 1919 there were 17 wineries making just over 1 million gallons of wine. Business was booming and then the hammer came down. Many of the vineyards were taken out and planted to prunes and other orchard crops. While there was still a market for wine grapes the bottom fell out by 1925 or so and part of the reason for the sale of the property. Gratefully December 5, 1933 ended this nationwide dry spell and we were poised at the right time to enter the winemaking business. Only 2 other wineries survived the next decade and it wasn’t until the 1970s when our county and valley saw a resurgence of wineries. Raise your glass, enjoy a bit of history and be thankful we are a nation that believes we should have wine on our tables.

    For those who love details I found this blog post from the Consitution Center and National Archives is a blog post on the 21st Ammendment and 5 things you may not have known!

  • December 5: The 85th Anniversary of Repeal!

    November 19, 2018 15:10

    December 5: The 85th Anniversary of Repeal!

    Just as the holidays go into full swing there is a day we should all take a moment to celebrate. December 5 is the day, 85 years ago, when the 21st Amendment ended what the 18th Amendment began: Prohibition. This is a very important day to all of us in the Pedroncelli family for obvious reasons.

    Without this act we would be farming prunes or walnuts. There would be no “Pedroncelli Winery” or Pedroncelli wines to drink. A bleak thought!

    My grandparents, Giovanni & Julia, bought the property mid-Prohibition and probably thought the dry time in America would end much sooner than it did. A couple of things happened however. Let’s go back to the fact that my grandparents, even though they came from Italy, had never owned vineyard let alone make wine. The good news is they learned from the ground up-by tending the vineyard they bought, selling the grapes to heads of households who were permitted to make 200 gallons of wine (84 cases!) during this dry period and finally learning to make wine alongside all these ‘vinpatriots’.

    Without the fortitude to stay the course the third and fourth generations would not be here continuing the heritage begun 91 years ago and we wouldn’t have the legacy of wines worth celebrating the day 85 years ago when the 19th amendment was repealed. Much like Open That Bottle Night (last Saturday of February) this is a day those of us in the wine biz enjoy the most. So let's celebrate with a glass of Zinfandel!

  • Thoughts on the 21st Ammendment

    December 4, 2015 11:54

    The 82nd anniversary of the Repeal of the 21st Amendment is December 5. Prohibition itself played an important role in how we got into winegrowing. In fact, if Prohibition hadn’t happened I’m not sure we’d be in the wine business today. The Italian family who owned the property before us (roughly 1906 to 1927 when my grandparents purchased it) may never have considered selling it. The winery had been shut down in 1919 but they could sell grapes during this time holding and were holding out hope the ban would be lifted. During this time they could sell their grapes to head of households, who in turn could make 200 gallons of wine. By the mid-1920’s the bottom of the grape market fell and the family was struggling to make ends meet.

    Enter my grandfather Giovanni who was looking for a piece of land to call his own after living in California for 20 years. Originally he came here as a companion to his sister Caterina who was betrothed to John Zandonella. My grandfather worked at many jobs in the early years including dairy, farming, railroad and other work he could find. He also served in the U.S. Army during World War I. His love of the land along with a Veteran’s Loan and down payment helped him find and purchase the property. The land sustained his young family through the ensuing years that included the Great Depression and began our journey into a four generation winegrowing family.

    Today the next three generations call this home in part thanks to the period known as Prohibition. A toast with a splash of Zinfandel in my Dino to my grandparents’ hard work and being in the right place at the right time. Who knows? They could have put down roots in Bakersfield…

    The first page of the title for the property purchased July 19, 1927. G. Canata represented the family who originally owned the property and is a relative of Louis M. Foppiano, of Foppiano Vineyards in Healdsburg.

    Title to Property 1927

  • Prohibition Revisited

    December 4, 2014 12:37

    The tale has been lost to history as to why my grandparents bought 90 acres, mid-Prohibition, in 1927. I think it is because my grandfather wanted a piece of land he could call his own after working on other farms and dairies once he had arrived in the U.S. as a teenager. The property included 25 acres of vineyard, a home and a defunct winery. It was sold by the Canata family who could no longer shoulder the debt of owning the land-and there may have been more to the story there as well, also lost to history. Even though Prohibition began in 1919, if you still grew grapes you could sell them to home winemakers if they were a ‘head of household’. Each household could make 200 gallons of wine per year. Now let’s think about this for a moment: this totals about 4 gallons per week. 20 bottles a week, or just shy of 3 bottles per day. Big families? Tradition? Thirsty? Many of these home winemakers had wine in their DNA-or at least were accustomed to enjoying wine with their meals every day. They at least kept some vineyards growing through this period and helped support my family. It also helped wineries reboot once Repeal rolled around. Statistically, the story is a sad one for Dry Creek Valley. Before 1919 there were 17 wineries making 1.5 million gallons of wine. Business was booming and then the hammer came down. Many of the vineyards were taken out and planted to prunes and other orchard crops. While there was still a market for wine grapes the bottom fell out by 1925 or so. Gratefully December 5, 1933 ended this nationwide dry spell and we were poised at the right time to enter the winemaking business. Only 2 other wineries survived the next decade and it wasn’t until the 1970s when our valley saw a resurgence of wineries and vineyards. From my Dino to yours, let’s celebrate 81 years of Repeal!

    Daily Mirror Prohibition Ends