SIPS OF SUMMER
The end to Prohibition brought joy to the California wine industry, yet there were challenges to overcome. The reputation of quality grapes for winemaking has deteriorated; the public view towards moderation in wine consumption changed since Prohibition; decayed facilities in some wineries coupled with other historical events in preceding decades - Civil War, World War I, and Great Depression, have brought onto wineries tough challenges on how to revive their businesses and the wine industry.
Revival of California wines
The questions remained unanswered until the 1960s. Prior to that, efforts were made by a number of organizations and wineries. The Wine Institute was established in 1934 to advocate legislation preserving sales at wineries to allow for winery retail sales and tourism. University of California at Berkeley and Davis led viticulture and winemaking research and education since 1935, and wineries established in the last century began to innovate in order to recover from Prohibition.
Georges de Latour at Beaulieu Vineyard traveled to France in 1938 and met André Tchelistcheff who was then hired by Latour as winemaker to the winery. Tchelistcheff brought with him his European winemaking expertise and a spirit of innovation. He also shaped and guided the philosophy of terroir expression in winemaking which remains one of the characteristics of California wines.
Mayacamas Vineyards was one of the ancient vineyards founded in 1889 and resumed in 1941. Its 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon was included in the Judgment of Paris a few decades after, which proved recognition in California winemaking and quality. 1941 was a memorable year for another long-established winery: Inglenook. Today, Inglenook's Cabernet Sauvignon 1941 is still well remembered for its supreme quality. New wineries were finally built in the 1950s almost two decades after Prohibition, prompting the modern history of California wines. Stony Hill was one of the first Napa Valley wineries built after Prohibition and is renowned for its white wines even up till today.
Portrait of André Tchelistcheff (1970s).
Photo courtesey of Treasury Wine Estates.
André Tchelistcheff at work in the Beaulieu Vineyard laboratory. Photo courtesey of Treasury Wine Estates.
In the 1960s and 1970s, many other winemakers and winegrape growers saw the great potential in California and started to found wineries. Robert Mondavi (1913 - 2008) established his namesake winery in Napa Valley in 1966 for being the first fine wine winery since Prohibition. Others soon followed Mondavi’s example. The new generation of winemakers made use of the latest technology including temperature-controlled stainless steel for fermentation and aging in smaller French barriques. Mondavi’s vision and his focus on quality in the vineyard and innovation in the winery remains influential in the California wine industry to date.
禁酒時期結束為加州酒業帶來喜悅，卻也同時帶來更多挑戰。出產釀酒的優質葡萄的聲譽下跌；大眾對於適量飲用葡萄酒的看法自禁酒以來有所改變； 某些酒莊設備已經破損，加上過去數十年所發生的大事件 – 美國內戰、一次世界大戰及經濟大蕭條，酒莊及整個酒業正面對前所未有的嚴峻挑戰，到底該如何重振業務？
到了1960年代，答案才出現。在這之前，不少組織和酒莊付出過努力，California Wine Institute於1934年成立，旨在提倡維護酒莊銷售的法例以帶動零售和旅遊業；加州大學柏克萊和戴維斯分校自1935年起積極推動葡萄種植和釀酒學的研究與教育；在過去一個世紀成立的各家酒莊亦開始改革創新，期望可以走出禁酒時期的陰霾。
Beaulieu Vineyard的Georges de Latour於1938年到訪法國時遇上André Tchelistcheff，隨即聘請了他到酒莊當釀酒師。Tchelistcheff為酒莊注入他的歐洲釀酒專業知識和創新精神，並引入以表現風土特色主導的釀酒理念，塑造了今天加州酒的特色之一。
Robert Mondavi in the vineyard at Robert Mondavi Winery.
Photo courtesy of Robert Mondavi Winery.
Mayacamas Vineyards是另一家擁有歷史悠久葡萄園的酒莊，成立於1889年，1941年復業，其1971年份的赤霞珠在數十年後舉行的「巴黎審判」獲挑選參與，從此令加州酒的釀酒技術及質素得到認同。1941年也是另一家建立已久的酒莊Inglenook特別值得紀念的年份，時至今日，Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon 1941仍令人對它那卓越的質素念念不忘。到了禁酒時期過了幾近廿年之後的1950年代，才出現第一家新酒莊，為加州酒現代史寫下新一頁。Stony Hill便是其中一家在這段時期建立的酒莊，至今還是以釀造白酒見稱。
在1960年代至1970年代，不少釀酒師和葡萄種植者注意到加州的潛力，開始建立新酒莊。Robert Mondavi（1913 - 2008）的同名酒莊於1966年在Napa Valley成立，是禁酒時期過後首家高級葡萄酒酒莊，旋即成為業界的模範。新一代的釀酒師開始應用最新科技，包括使用恆温的不鏽鋼酒桶發酵和在較細小的法國橡木桶陳釀。Mondavi高瞻遠矚，專注於葡萄園的質素和酒莊的創新，一直影響加州酒業至今。