Early California Wine Trade
our mission

Today's vibrant California wine industry began in the late first half of the 19th century, established by tenacious wine producers and merchants. A substantial wine industry operated in California before Prohibition effectively brought it to a halt in 1920. The earliest California wines were commercially produced mostly in and around Los Angeles. Thousands came from around the world during the gold rush, seeking opportunity and adventure, bringing with them a mighty thirst.

Consequently, the wine industry grew rapidly, soon concentrating in the north with San Francisco as its hub. Ironically, although early wine producers were met with a myriad of difficult challenges, by Prohibition most issues of pestilence, disease, poor winemaking techniques, overproduction and quality control, had been resolved with relative success.

With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the wine industry didn't find itself where it left off in 1920. The great
California wine renaissance wouldn't emerge until well into the second half of the 20th century, although a few stars
shone brightly early on.

California's early wine trade is well documented by wine writers and historians such as Charles Sullivan, Thomas Pinney, Brian McGinty, Ernest Peninou, William Heintz, Catherine Harroun and Ruth Teiser. However, perceptions of the early wine trade, generated from its own ephemera have been minimal. The collections in the archives of institutions and private collections are rarely exhibited. A museum devoted to the early California wine trade would provide such a venue.

Images on this web site are but a fraction from the collection of Dean Walters, the creator of this web site, but the thousands of items in the collection will be part of the museum. Similar collections may become available, but only if the museum is legitimately established.

Establishing the museum:
The museum will function as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, including a director, a board of directors, and a small
paid staff assisted by volunteers. An ideal location for the Early California Wine Trade Museum would be somewhere
in the quintessential Napa Valley, where thousands flock to experience its bounty of wine and food.

Funding for this ambitious venture will be multifaceted with:
• Seeking state & federal grants.
• Contributions from the wine industry,
    its affiliates & the private sector.
• Museum membership & entry fees
• Museum hosted events such as an annual auction,
   and continuing lectures & films.
• Fees from licensing digital images from the museum archives.
• Book, print & gift sales at the museum and online.
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