Wine Bricks Saved The U.S. Wine Industry During Prohibition

Samuel Reason | June 22nd, 2019

We are sure you have all heard the stories of Al Capone and hidden bars during the prohibition period of the United States of America. No matter what you do it seems people will always find a way to drink a whiskey, a beer or a glass of wine. And well when you think of the mafia or other gangs avoiding the law to make money on illegal alcohol, that just seems logical. Where the mafia can make easy money, they always will. What you may not know, is how crafty farmers became during the era to ensure they could sell their grapes.

grapecollective.com

You see the prohibition period was devastating for the American wine industry, they nearly were wiped off the map completely. They faced a major dilemma in 1920, what to do with vineyards? Should they simply tear them up and give up years of hard work – or figure out a way around the law. As you may have guessed farmers and vineyard owners choose a different direction to ensure they could still turn a profit from their grapes. As they hoped the ban on booze would simply not last very long, and this was where the concept of the wine brick was invented.

U.S. law stipulated that grapes could only be grown if they were for non-alcoholic consumption, however, if the grape grower gave clear instructions that the grapes should not be used for to create alcohol then they were in the clear. They could even make juice or juice concentrates if they were non-alcoholic. So that is what the vineyards did, they create the wine brick which was essentially a brick of concentrated grape juice. This meant it was completely legal.

The consumer could then simply dissolve it in water and ferment to make their own wine. But of course not everyone knows how to make wine, so how did they get around this? They printed clear instructions on the packaging on what NOT to do to create wine. They made instructions in the form of a warning, which was an ingenious way to get around the law.

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