The War on Wine
Prohibition, Neoprohibition, and American Culture
Cultural Ecologies of Food in the Twenty-First Century
The history of wine is a tale of capitalist production and consumer experience, and early Americans embraced the idea of having their own wine culture. But many began to believe that excessive alcohol consumption had become a moral, ethical, economic, political, social, and health conundrum. The result was a national on-again, off-again relationship with the concept of an American wine culture.
Citizens struggled to build a wine culture patterned after their diasporic European custom of wine as a moderating beverage that was part of a healthy diet. Yet, as America grew, untold attempts to create a wine culture failed due to climate, pests, diseases, wars, and depressions, resulting in some people considering the nation an alcoholic republic. Thus began an anti-alcohol culture war aimed at restricting or prohibiting alcoholic beverages.
With the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition), a culture war started between wet and dry proponents. After the repeal of Prohibition, the decimated wine industry responded by forming the Wine Institute to rebrand wine’s role in American society, after which neoprohibitionists attempted to restrict alcohol availability and consumption. To confront these aggressive actions, the Wine Institute hired politically trained John A. De Luca to navigate the new attacks and pushed for rebranding wine as a cultural spirit with health benefits.