by Fred McMillin
for September 7, 1998


Happy Labor Day


The year was 1863. London-born Samuel Gompers arrived in the USA at age 13. Just one year later he became the first registered member of the Cigar-Makers' International Union. Among his many subsequent accomplishments was helping the establishment of Labor Day as the workingman's holiday.

The Rest of the Story

Prosperity Red On this workingman's holiday, my wine must have a label that honors America's working man. There's none better than that created by Courtland Johnson and Mark Oliver of Santa Barbara. It shows a vineyard worker proudly carrying a basket of grapes in the morning sun. It adorns the Prosperity Red wine of the Firestone Winery, Santa Ynez Valley. The brand was introduced by owner Brooks Firestone six years ago. The blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon was an immediate success, at a workingman's price of $5. Today the blend is lighter, very drinkable, and it remains a bargain at $6.

The Wine

Prosperity Red, California Non-vintage
Firestone Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, CA.
Food Affinities—Roast chicken, ham, char-grilled salmon, veal, pork
Contact—Shelley Machet, (805) 688-3940


The Santa Ynez Valley's First Yankee Laborer—He was a remarkable blacksmith-carpenter. So remarkable, in fact, that the dreaded buckaneer Hypolite de Bouchard forced Joseph Chapman to sail with his pirates. However, during the sacking in the Santa Barbara area, the New Englander escaped to the "Santa Inez" Mission. Here "Blond Joe's" skills were treasured leading ultimately to his planting 4,000 vines to become California's first USA viticulturist!

Note: For more about the winery, see the April 27, 1998 WineDay titled "Firestone Milestones".

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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. 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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