Tuesday, December 14, 2010


It's the definition, dummy

By Henry Curtis

I recently visited the Bouchaine Winery in the Carneros Region of Napa Valley. There I was told that they were the only winery in the area that survived Prohibition. Huh?!

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1919) banned alcohol and the 21th Amendment (1933) legalized it. How could a winery survive it?

The 18th Amendment prohibited the production, sale, and transport of "intoxicating liquors", but failed to define "intoxicating liquors" or provide penalties; instead it allowed states and the federal government to pass enabling language.

The federal enabling legislation (the Volstead Act also known as the National Prohibition Act) allowed a physician to prescribe whiskey for patients and stated that each home could make 200 gallons (1000 bottles) of "non-intoxicating cider and fruit juice" per year. In 1919 the juice had to be less than 0.5% (1 proof), but later this limit was raised to 4% (8 proof). Of course, enforcement was almost non-existent.

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