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Finding aid to the California Wine Association records, 1894-1936, MS 300
MS 300  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Sources Consulted

  • Title: California Wine Association records
    Date: 1894-1936
    Collection Identifier: MS 300
    Creator: California Wine Association.
    Extent: 10 flat boxes (3 linear feet)
    Repository: California Historical Society
    678 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA, 94105
    415-357-1848
    reference@calhist.org
    URL: http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org
    Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
    Abstract: Consists of bound records of the California Wine Association (1894-1936), a group of San Francisco Bay Area winemakers and dealers who combined interests to gain favorable financial control over the market. Volumes contain minutes of Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings; membership lists; and contract terms with grape growers and other winemakers, including Napa winemakers Frederick and Jacob Beringer. The records also shed light on the association's formation; the general state of the California wine market; competition with national and international markets; Prohibition; and the dissolution of the C.W.A., including lawsuits and member resignations. Significant association members represented in the collection include founders Charles Carpy of C. Carpy & Company; Charles Kohler and Henry Kohler of Napa Valley Wine Company, Kohler and Frohling, C. Carpy & Company, B. Dreyfus & Company, and Kohler and Van Bergen; Arpad Haraszthy of Arpad Haraszthy & Company; Albert Lachman, Henry Lachman, and Samuel Lachman of S. Lachman & Company and Lachman & Jacobi; winemaker John Frohling; Benjamin Dreyfus of B. Dreyfus & Company; and Nicholas Van Bergen of Kohler and Van Bergen. The firms Aguillon & Busatelli and C. Schilling & Company, both part of the association's combined holdings, are also represented.

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of Library and Archives, North Baker Research Library, California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Consent is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], California Wine Association Records, MS 300, California Historical Society.

    Processing Information

    The collection was reprocessed by Megan Hickey Nespeco in 2012.

    Administrative History

    The California Wine Association was formed during the depression of 1894 from seven leading California wine firms in an effort to secure favorable options from grape growers and winemakers, and to raise prices and stimulate trade. In 1894 the wine industry was in a perilous state. California's 200,000 acres of vineyard were overproductive, and California wines were being sold for as little as ten cents a gallon. The country's financial depression also lingered, and both California winemakers and the dealers were in dire financial straits. On August 10, 1894, the California Wine Association was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000, and with the intent to control eighty percent of the wine produced in the state. For the next two decades the uniform syndicate held substantial bargaining power over winegrowers. The combined firms would also set prices based on vintages and regional characteristics of the grapes they contracted to grow.
    From C.W.A.’s incorporation until Prohibition, the history of winemaking in California is largely connected to the history of the California Wine Association. The C.W.A. became a syndicate or cartel, the single buyer for ripe grapes from winegrowers. In response, winegrowers formed their own interest groups, which led to the wine wars of the 1890s. In order to successfully negotiate grape prices, the two factions came to agree upon standards for terms such as “hill grapes” and “valley grapes”, and stabilized the quality of California wine in the process.
    By the early twentieth century the quality and production of California wine had vastly improved, which led Isaias W. Hellman, bank president and owner of a vast southern California vineyard, to invest in a substantial amount of C.W.A. stock. Hellman’s influence expanded the Association's hold across the state, and made them the largest wine distributor in the country. By 1907 C.W.A. had a storage capacity of nearly thirty million gallons, effectively controlling the forty-three million gallons produced annually in California.
    The enactment of the 18th Amendment in 1920 would ultimately lead to C.W.A.’s demise. However, the new century began with an auspicious start. By 1914 the Association had reached their intended goal, having established control over eighty percent of wine manufactured in the State. Two years later, however, Prohibition laws passed in California and the subsequent depression in the wine industry left the outlook bleak for its largest manufacturer. During the first several years of Prohibition, C.W.A. pursued other business ventures, such as manufacturing grape juice along with other non-alcoholic beverages. The Association even began a short-lived experiment with ways to extract sugar from dried fruit. Ultimately though, it was found that alternative forms of revenue failed to deliver a substantial profit. Moreover, the crisis caused by Prohibition was compounded by ensuing disorganization within C.W.A.
    Prohibition led the Association to divest of their wine stock. However, many of these liquidation deals failed, which caused member firms to pursue sanctions against other member firms. The Association's last decade was spent in litigation, though they found some success in the foreign market. By 1935, after selling all remaining wine stock to a San Francisco Cooperative, Grape Fruit Industries, Ltd., C.W.A. was officially dissolved.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of bound records of the California Wine Association (1894-1936), a group of San Francisco Bay Area winemakers and dealers who combined interests to gain favorable financial control over the market. Volumes contain minutes of Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings; membership lists; and contract terms with grape growers and other winemakers, including Napa winemakers Frederick and Jacob Beringer. The records also shed light on the association's formation; the general state of the California wine market; competition with national and international markets; Prohibition; and the dissolution of the C.W.A., including lawsuits and member resignations. Significant association members represented in the collection include founders Charles Carpy of C. Carpy & Company; Charles Kohler and Henry Kohler of Napa Valley Wine Company, Kohler and Frohling, C. Carpy & Company, B. Dreyfus & Company, and Kohler and Van Bergen; Arpad Haraszthy of Arpad Haraszthy & Company; Albert Lachman, Henry Lachman, and Samuel Lachman of S. Lachman & Company and Lachman & Jacobi; winemaker John Frohling; Benjamin Dreyfus of B. Dreyfus & Company; and Nicholas Van Bergen of Kohler and Van Bergen. The firms Aguillon & Busatelli and C. Schilling & Company, both part of the association's combined holdings, are also represented.
    The Board of Directors minutes (Series 1, 1894 August 10-1936 December 8) document administrative matters, including appointments, organizational bylaws, and contract negotiations between the committee and California winemakers. Additionally, this series contains committee member lists, including information on member responsibilities, and transcriptions of business reports sent to stockholders. A separate folder (1886, 1898-1917, 1919-1922, 1936), contains printed and typed copies of annual reports and statements.
    Minutes of the Executive Committee (Series 2, 1903 March 23-1923 October 17), the fiscal decision-making body of California Wine Association, contain additional information on contract terms with grape growers; purchase terms of various vintages; and property acquisitions. Also included is documentation of the C.W.A.'s response to Prohibition, including its alignment with various anti-Prohibition associations; member resignations; and the dissolution of the association itself.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog:
    Aguillon & Busatelli (Wine firm, Alameda County, Calif.).
    Arpad Haraszthy & Company (Wine firm).
    B. Dreyfus & Company (Wine firm).
    Beringer, Frederick.
    Beringer, Jacob.
    C. Carpy & Company (Wine firm).
    C. Schilling & Company (Wine firm).
    California Wine Association.
    Carpy, Charles.
    Dreyfus, Benjamin.
    Frohling, John.
    Haraszthy, Arpad, 1840-1900.
    Italian-Swiss Colony (Wine firm).
    Kohler and Frohling (Wine firm).
    Kohler and Van Bergen (Wine firm).
    Kohler, Charles, 1854-1917.
    Kohler, Henry.
    Lachman & Jacobi (Wine firm).
    Lachman, Albert.
    Lachman, Henry.
    Lachman, Samuel.
    Napa Valley Wine Company.
    S. Lachman & Company (Wine firm).
    Van Bergen, Nicholas.
    Prohibition--California.
    Vinters--California.
    Viticulture--California.
    Wine and wine making--California.
    Wine industry--California.

    Sources Consulted

    Carosso, Vincent P. The California wine industry, 1830-1895: a study of the formative years. Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1951.
    Peninou, Ernest P. and Unzelman, Gail G., The California Wine Association and its member wineries. Santa Rosa: Nomis Press, 2000.
    Peninou, Ernest P. and Greenleaf, Sidney S. A Directory of California wine growers and wine makers in 1860: with biographical and historical notes and index. Berkeley: Tamalpais Press, 1967.