Crush: The Triumph of California Wine
by John Briscoe
University of Nevada Press

"Regardless of the ebbs and flows of production, an old prejudice persisted about California wines, even in California."

From the days of the Jesuit and Franciscan missions to the modern notoriety and prolific production that California’s vintners enjoy, Crush chronicles the entire history of winemaking and wine culture in the state of California. Split into three parts, this comprehensive history begins with the origins of winemaking in the region before moving into four immense setbacks that kept California from worldwide wine renown. From outbreaks of diseases and costly wars to devastating natural disasters and the adoption of Prohibition as law, those who passionately and meticulously grew and crafted their wine persevered and fought to give California wine the recognition it deserved on the world stage. Telling the story of not just the companies and vineyards that produce California wine but also the individuals and critics who elevated its culture and status—as well as the actual grapes themselves—this is a complete history from humble beginnings to world-class recognition.

Packed with a plethora of cited source material combined with the author’s passion for the region and its food culture, the history in this book pops right off the page. The inclusion of dozens of photographs of packaging and advertisements helps the history come to life and explores the changing cultural approaches to American wine over two and a half centuries. The information is presented largely in chronological order but also uses the book’s three-part structure to separate the background from the catastrophes and then the successes and accolades. The appendices also contain a more concise chronology of events that help show the progression of events that led to California’s place atop the premium and discount wine worlds. For those who are passionate about food culture in America or the history of California, the character and detail in this book is something that can’t be missed.

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