Looking backward into the future.
The well-known E.Y. Foley of Fresno got so desperate for RR cars, that he shipped an unrefrigerated train load of 65, yes I said 65, cars of grapes to Chicago. I guess this points out just how big an operation the juice grape operation was in those days!
Prof. W.V. Cruess wrote a detailed article on how to preserve grape juice. While seemingly aimed to the "hobby" juice maker, it apparently was carefully perused by growers and ex-vintners as a possible way to ease their problems caused by the car shortage. At least I remember my dad and brothers recalling those days and their attempts to sell "preserved" grape juice. The ignorance of the industry in those days (early '20s) was only matched by that of the early years of 1880s and 1930s.
The October, 1942, issue of Wines & Vines was full of the most boring of news -- but stuff that was vital to the war-plagued industry. A "price ceiling" for wines was finally temporarily approved. This, of course, provided small comfort for the industry but there was not much that could be done. The reason for the discomfort? The ceiling was 39 cents for dessert wines net naked in bond F.O.B. winery in carload lots. For table wines it was 21 1/2 cents. Some deal! I seem to remember that my uncle said that our cost would be a minimum of 5 cents more on each of the above. There was also a ceiling on bottled wine. And the wines which were blends of 1941 and 1942 vintages caused further headaches.
One small bright spot was the release of "pro-rate" brandy. This was brandy produced under a program to distill wine from surplus grapes and wine produced in the late '30s. It was all "off-grade" beverage brandy but was available for redistillation into neutral grape spirits and would be used to fortify the '42 dessert wines. An example of the "ever normal granary" that was so popular during the depression. This time it worked.
What all of this added up to, as the situation unfolded after the war, was that a great deal of crummy wine was sold and the prestige and reputation of the industry were set back about a generation. Coming on the heels of prohibition, this set-back was not an event that the industry could easily absorb -- we suffered for years thereafter.
Business continued very brisk in Oct. of 1942, so much so that much of our financial worries were over. Even the "help" situation was much improved. Immigrants from other states were moving into California in great numbers so that even with the demands of the burgeoning defense/war industry, we were able to train people for our most essential tasks. Thus, even with my big load of classes, I was able to keep the champagne works going at almost full speed, thanks to the new people that arrived almost in the nick of time.
The crush posed another problem, however. Grapes were "tight" and equipment was overloaded. Personnel were barely trained and not really too interested in the low-paying winery jobs as all had their eyes on the glamorous defense industry. However, the depression was still strong in everyone's mind and a job was a job.
Meanwhile, overseas, the siege of Leningrad aka St. Petersburg tightened and all of us who had the time came to admire the valiant Russian civilians who worked among the most terrifying of conditions--conditions that probably made the Londoners' life a cake walk. Guadalcanal was still being bled over, fought over, and to me, in my somewhat overly cautious state and fearing another grand defeat on the scale of Pearl Harbor, I just could not see us winning Guadalcanal. But then I was overrating the Imperial Japanese Navy and underrating the improvement made in all the armed forces of the U.S. The Point Esperance (northern tip of Guadalcanal) naval battle is a case in point. We won it and won it good. It was fought near the end of October 1942 but I didn't hear about it for a while, and even then, I was not sure of how much to believe. So I just prayed and trusted that all were doing the best possible.
In the October, 1962 issue, we find mention of the Sante Fe brand, distribution of which is being assumed by United Vintners (B.C. Solari, presiding) from Di Giorgio. Great memories.
Another article by Dr. Salvatore Lucia, titled "What EveryPhysician Should Know About Wine." In this article, the good doctor says, among other things, "The relationship between wine and the blood cholesterol level is currently an important issue -- studies carried out so far seem to indicate that wine contains a number of complex compounds capable of reducing the blood cholesterol of certain lab animals. When it will be demonstrated that wine is capable of reducing blood cholesterol of human beings, the rise of wine as a dietary beverage will have about the strongest support science can give it." Remember, Dr. Lucia wrote this in 1962. For many of us who felt that Dr. Lucia was a bit overly enthusiastic in his support and praise of wine in medicine, this comes as a wonderful sense of relief and pride. Too bad that he is not alive to enjoy his expectation.
Dr. R.J. Bouthilet, of Gallo, has a fascinating article about sorbate and the berry of the Mt. Ash tree. The berry contains sorbic acid. A patent was issued in Germany in the '30s for the use of sorbic acid as a food preservative. And there lies a tale -- no? I suppose that this and other natural products that were purified and then synthesized by the brilliant German chemists were delayed by the Nazis for various selfish reasons.
Lots of old names in the October '67 issue but not much else for me to comment upon.
Mogen David (which you all know means "Shield of David" aka "Star of David") expands to Upstate N.Y.
Freemark Abby reopens.
80,000 people attend Widmer's "Annual" Naples (NY) Grape Festival.
Roy Comozzi takes over from Dick Lazarus at W.I.; and Roy died, what? four years later?
Oregon bars begin to sell wine by the glass.
Walt Staley joints Fritz Kyer as a wine broker.
And many more.
Apparently the late '60s were to be a watershed. So many things in the industry are much different today and so many of the people have changed that we can truly say that it is almost a different industry. Dessert wine no longer dominates; stainless steel does; varietals do; financing, while not as easy as it was 10 years ago, is surely more available than 25, 30 years ago. The changes are not as complete and vast as they were in '18, '33 and '46, but they are significant. I look forward to the "fin de siecle," eh?
Philip Hiaring's editorial in the October, 1972, edition is on tasting and the best time of the day and week to do it. Eleven o'clock in the morning say many. Wednesday say some. Any day say most, as it is necessary to taste when it has to be done. But one thing all agree upon -- no Saturday; no Sunday. So speaking of watersheds, the no Sat., Sun. work was a BIG one. I well remember how we wound down from an early Saturday (3 or 4 P.M.) departure then to Saturday noon and next to no Saturday work at all (except for executives and special jobs in the winery). Now in many cases the plants and offices seem tightly locked. Is it good? Who knows? Instead of Saturday and occasional Sunday work we now have the spouse working full time (and incidentally paying double taxes). The $ in 1972 was worth just about 3x what it is today. We also have increased and more violent delinquents and increased use of illegal drugs. Too much leisure time, my father would say. In fact my grandfather, Beninamino, said that Sundays were to rest-up for the remainder of the week. He even felt that the "boys" playing baseball during their lunch break were being unfair to the company 'cause they were not resting to provide maximum effort for the company in the latter half of the day! Of course, he was thinking of the days when two men could empty a 10,000 gallon tank in a day or so. By muscle-powered hand pump.
Interesting review of a book, "The Great Wine Blight," by Geo. Ordish. Subject -- the Phylloxera disaster of the 1870s. Very appropriate for today's discussions and I shall have to try to read it.
Also a book review on Haraszthy's trips to the old countries to obtain cuttings for the New World. Incidentally, the California legislature never paid him for his trip as they claimed it was unauthorized and he exceeded his authority. His supporters claimed that the unionist legislature felt that the "Count" was a Southern sympathizer. You think the McCarthy era was ruff?
The editorial for the October, 1982, Wines & Vines was posthumously by Irving Marcus. In it he related the number of people that had come by his office to get his advice about getting into the wine business. I guess we've all had that experience. I know I have.
Fetzer rolls out 1980 Zinfandel to honor its (their) founder. Wonder how Barney feels to know his dream child is now in the hands of another. I am sure my dad rolled over in his grave when we sold out. Will Brown-Forman do the unexpected and be successful? I am inclined to think so.
Wise & Otherwise reports as to how Foremost-McKesson was operating a school for sommeliers. We used to sell McKesson their private brand or brandy. When they merged with Foremost, I was invited to lunch with them and become acquainted with the new team. The team ordered milk for lunch and I wondered how long this outfit was for this world. Now we know.
Jim Seff -- ex-W.I. counsel, has an interesting article on "The Minefield of Wine Laws." One of his more interesting comments is on the attempt to unify the various states' wine laws. A more frustrating and impossible job could never be devised by man! The prestigious Columbia School of Law was the lead agency by means of their Legislative Drafting Research Fund. I was all in favor of this action but never had much hoe for its success. Wonder if anything did come of this valiant effort?
Lake County is broadcasting its wine and grapegrowing reputation and history with a picture of the redoubtable Orville Magoon and his new venture; also featuring the Turner Bros., Bill Pease and Daniel Stuermer.
Ed Everett's column is on the new fangled "wine tap" -- a good phrase, I suppose, for all the bulk dispensing gadgets and arrangements that we now take for granted. In the beginning, especially in the East, the idea of the bag-in-a-box, the sodapop or beer dispensing systems and some other ideas, was a very hard sell, as Ed relates. I remember when, during the '30s, in California and New York, we sold wine in oak kegs and barrels to retailers. While mostly sold to bars and some restaurants, there also were a goodly number of stores that sold wine out of kegs. These are fond memories, because as I've written before, I spent several summers recoopering the kegs as they were returned from the retailers. Not much new under the sun.
Italy announces it will sell wine in the U.S. packed in cans. Wonder how far this can plan got?
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Kasser, late of Philadelphia, switches from strip stamps on its distilled spirits, to suitably printed and approved pilferproof caps. That, I suppose, is the end of the stamp method for paying excise taxes. But do you recall when we not only had to pre-pay federal excise taxes by stamp but also some state taxes? And in some cases by the bottle not the case. I think we have to thank the Gallos and W.I. for eliminating such bothersome and expensive restrictions.
And then there is an article on "Computerizing the Winery." Sorta late wasn't it? Even for '82. I think I remember throwing the old IBM sorting cards away about '62.
CURRENT RAMBLINGS: Gerald Asher, the wine writer, has much to say about wild yeasts and other no-nos in his July 29th column in the S.F. Chronicle. Seems as though some "north coast" wineries are experimenting with "wild" yeasts, those little "baddies" that we in California have fought so hard to repress. Seems as though some of these are giving some wines a unique touch. Well, this does not surprise me. The same thing happens with cheeses, no? What does surprise me is that this development has sprung up so suddenly and unexpectedly late. As I have expressed before herein, I had hoped that this development would come before my retirement. Since it hadn't and I had no whisperings thereof, my assumption was that there was nothing stirring -- but I was looking in the wrong direction -- I was fairly sure that the breakthrough would come from Davis or perhaps Gallo or possibly from one of the small wineries that were in charge of a particularly bright, experimental and not-too-busy highly-trained enologist. But there again, who can tell from whence a telephone call or silver bullet will come. Congratulations to those involved, like Fisher Vineyard, R. Mondavi et alia. Hopefully this is only the beginning.
More news on the cholesterol front. It is reported that resveratrol (which seems to lower blood cholesterol in humans) can be found in grape juice. Since resveratrol is formed in the leaves and skins of grapes to fight fungi, it stands to reason, as claimed, that in moist locations, such as New York, the levels of resveratrol are higher. Thus also red wines -- which are fermented on the skins -- are richer in resveratrol than white on pink wines. All this from Dan Malcolm in the August, '92 American Vineyard.
Haven't seen whether some varieties of red grapes are higher in resveratrol than others.
Also, the raisin people are seeking the content of resveratrol in dried grapes.
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|Title Annotation:||wine industry|
|Publication:||Wines & Vines|
|Article Type:||Industry Overview|
|Date:||Oct 1, 1992|
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