by Fred McMillin
for January 15, 1999


Winery of the Week

A Day That Shall Live in Infamy,
Jan. 16, 1919


"Although man is already ninety percent water, the Prohibitionists are not yet satisfied."

...Dick Rosano's Wine Calendar

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution is proclaimed Jan. 16, 1919 to go into effect Jan. 16, 1920, banning alcoholic beverages. The associated Prohibition Enforcement Act is passed over President Wilson's veto.

U.S.A. Commercial Wine Production:
1919—55 million gallons
1924—4 million gallons (sacramental wine permitted)

The Rest of the Story

So commercial winemaking went down the tubes, but any household could legally make 200 gallons a year for personal consumption (about 3 bottles a day). Hence, wine consumption during Prohibition was twice that of the previous years. The Italian- Americans led the charge. For example, a group in Minnesota sent Cesare Mondavi to California to send wine grapes to them; young Robert Mondavi helped nail together the shipping crates.

The New York Times reported on vintage time in San Francisco: "The air in the Italian quarter is heavy with the pungent odor of fermenting vats in garages and basements. Smiling policemen help shoo away the children from the wine presses, who use them for improvised rocking horses."

Bargetto Winery South of San Francisco two Italians were very busy. Philip and John Bargetto had come from Piedmont, Italy, to set up a winery in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. They could sense that Prohibition sentiment was fading, so they got ready. Utah was the required 36th state to ratify the Repeal Amendment, acting on Dec. 5, 1933. The Bargetto brothers opened their winery on Dec. 5, 1933! The family has kept things humming ever since so here's our winery of the week.

Bargetto Winery

Santa Cruz Mountains
Founded 1933
Recommended Wines—Chardonnays, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Chaucer's Mead, new Argentinian imports under Coastal Cellars label.
Contact—Martin Bargetto at (408) 475-2258.
For More on Bargetto—See June 10, 1998's WineDay article about, "The Gray Grape."


Prohibition lasted 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours, 32 minutes.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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