A timeline of important industry and Wine Institute developments over the past 75 years was presented at the Institute’s “birthday bash” in Napa Valley recently.
Because the timeline also presents a snapshot of the modern American wine industry, we are sharing it with you here. Enjoy…
* 1933 (December 5): Prohibition ends with ratification of the 21st Amendment.
* 1934: Industry members sign bylaws creating Wine Institute.
* 1935: Wine Institute advocates legislation preserving sales at wineries, allowing for winery retail sales and tourism. The University of California officially splits the industry’s educational work, with Berkeley taking the lead in teaching basic winemaking methods and Davis teaching viticulture.
* 1938: California Department of Agriculture recognizes wine as an agricultural product so the industry can secure a marketing order to create the Wine Advisory Board. Wine Institute is commissioned to promote California wines.
* 1942: Wine Institute General Manager Leon Adams and Research Director Louis Gomberg develop educational, promotional and statistical information for a recovering industry.
* 1944: U.C. Davis professors Amerine and Winkler publish research on varietal analysis which lays out the degree-day climatic system’s relationship to grapegrowing and, ultimately, the production of higher quality wines.
* 1949: Wine Institute adopts principles of good advertising practices for the wine industry, later published as the Wine Institute Code of Advertising Standards.
* 1950s: California winery tasting rooms grow in number as travel destinations. Wine Institute reports 250,000 visitors to state wineries in 1954.
* 1958: Wine Institute hires its first legislative representative to help overcome trade barriers in all 50 states and on the federal level. (Today, Wine Institute has nine legislative representatives and 40 contract lobbyists.)
* 1967: Table wine surpasses dessert wine in volume sales in the U.S. for the first time since Prohibition.
* 1976: The Judgment of Paris — French wine experts choose California wines over French wines in a blind tasting, bringing world recognition to California wine.
* 1980: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms establishes new, stringent standards for wine labeling and begins a program to identify American Viticultural Areas.
* 1982: Wine Institute starts its Washington Week program, bringing California vintners to the nation’s capital. (Wine Institute’s presence in D.C. dates back to the 1940s.)
* 1984: The U.S. Congress passes the Wine Equity and Export Expansion Act to help reduce barriers to trade abroad for American wines.
* 1985: Wine Institute initiates the first direct-to-consumer wine shipping legislation in California.
* 1987: Wine Institute establishes its first international office in Canada to promote California wine abroad; eventually, there will be 16 international offices. Congress passes the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act, requiring the Surgeon General’s Warning on wine, beer and spirits labels.
* 1991: CBS TV’s “60 Minutes” airs “The French Paradox” broadcast, reporting on how the red-wine consuming French have low rates of cardiovascular disease despite high-fat diets. Wine Institute refocuses efforts on public policy work in response to increased legislation, regulation and anti-alcohol sentiment.
* 1993: Varietal wine sales surpass generic wine sales in the U.S.
* 1995: The U.S. Dietary Guidelines acknowledge the health effects of moderate wine and alcohol consumption, and the reduced risk for heart disease as well as the risks of abuse for some individuals.
* 1996: Wine Institute advocates for U.S. government funding for research on moderate alcohol consumption. More than $10 million is allocated to 15 research projects by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
* 1997: California State University Fresno becomes the first U.S. university to have a bonded, licensed winery on campus.
* 2002: Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers introduce the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing; the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance is established in 2003 to implement the program.
* 2005: The U.S. Supreme Court rules “that states cannot ban out-of-state wineries from shipping wine directly to consumers while allowing in-state wine producers to do so,” a major victory for wineries in their quest to liberalize shipments to consumers and end discrimination.
* 2006: Armed with the Supreme Court decision, Wine Institute works with in-state producers to advocate further change, state by state, to direct-to-consumer shipping laws, increasing the number of legal markets to 80 percent of U.S. consumers. U.S. Trade representatives and European negotiators sign a wine trade agreement following almost eight years of negotiations and more than 20 years of discussions. Wine Institute membership reaches 1,000.
* 2007: Wine Institute partners with the California Travel and Tourism Commission on a consumer campaign with a national television spot promoting the state’s wine, food and travel offerings.
* 2008: U.S./California wine exports to 122 countries surpass $1 billion for the first time.