The central valley played an important role for California's early wine industry, producing mostly sweet and fortified wines and brandies. Dry table wines were rarely successful in this hot, arid zone. By the last ten years before Prohibition, the California Wine Association successfully operated or owned nearly all of the wineries in the central valley.
One of the most noteworthy was Governor Leland Stanford's Vina Winery & Distillery in Tehama County, sprawling over 3800 acres. It was the largest winery in the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Stanford's original dream of competing with the fine table wines of Europe never materialized, but he did find limited success with the production of sweet wines and brandies.