All Hail Prohibition | Wine Enthusiast
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All Hail Prohibition

(The best thing to happen to Lodi wine since the cork.)


Without trying to sound too much like an eighth-grade history teacher, show of hands: who knows what the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was? We say “was” because it was struck down just 13 years after it was enacted. Anyone? That’s right, Prohibition, which banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the United States. Except—and here’s the fortuitous part—for a little clause called Section 29, which allowed for the making of up to 200 gallons of homemade wine for personal use. Well, as you can imagine, the demand for wine grapes in the United States between 1920 and 1933 skyrocketed. And who better to provide them than the winegrape growers of Lodi. Not only that, these same growers suddenly found themselves becoming vintners as well; making and perfecting their own Alicantes, Zinfandels and Carignans—for personal use, of course. These are the wines that went on to become the bedrocks of what is today one of the finest, most heralded winegrowing and winemaking regions in all of California. And all because some temperance folks got a bee in their bonnets once upon a time. Oh, quick FYI: should anyone ever decide to outlaw, say, walnuts or cherries, we’ve got you covered there, too.