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Fermenting a Twenty-First Century California Wine Industry

Victor W. Geraci
Agricultural History
Vol. 78, No. 4 (Autumn, 2004), pp. 438-465
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3744795
Page Count: 28
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Fermenting a Twenty-First Century California Wine Industry
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Abstract

At the start of the twenty-first century, California wineries entered a new vinti-business (vertical integration of grape farming, wine production, and wine distribution) era based on the needs of a global wine economy by adapting historic survival lessons learned from their past. This agricultural success story illuminates the entrepreneurial energy and able instincts of California farmers who replicated, with modern twists, the big business canons of Gilded Age agricultural capitalism. Whether it be the Phyloxera outbreak in the 1880s Los Angeles region of Southern California, World War I, Prohibition, the Great Depression, the Second World War, and finally neoprohibition, wine entrepreneurs rebuilt each time by returning to nineteenth-century capitalist tenets intrinsic in a market economy. Successful wineries found ways to achieve the most efficient economy-of-scale operations through their use of science, promotion of sustainable agriculture, aggressive marketing, protection of wine's image from attacks by neoprohibitionists, and courtship of government agencies for money and favorable policies. After managing domestic production and sales, forward-thinking viticultural entrepreneurs then expanded their operations into the twenty-first century global market-place much like their predecessors from the century before.

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