May 23, 1922: On this day, wine was recognized by the Federal authority as part of religious practices. Restrictions on sacramental wine were repealed by Blair, according to the Yorkville Enquirer; now, priests may use wine in religious rites. Reports from newspapers indicate that local authorities had been allowing church officials to use wine in their ceremonies long before Blair removed the limit for priests. In the early days of California’s wine industry, religious approvals were used as a loophole.
May 23, 1927: On this day, Stafford’s Blacks Alicante label for ‘Black Grapes” was used; this illustrates the different varieties of grapes and their strength to survive. The label utilized on the grape crates labels was a play on ethnic stereotypes, which was typical on labels for other fruits and vegetables from the same period. Red grapes were popular not just because they could make it across the continent but also because it was simpler to turn them into a palatable red than stable white grapes into a delicious red. White grapes were removed from plantations to make for more good red grape types, such as Alicante Bouschet and Zinfandel, producing wines with deeper colors. Due to the deep darkness of these types of fruit, they were often referred to as “black grapes.”
May 23, 1929: Eliot Ness took the helm of the prohibition bureau on this day. Ness was just 26 years old when he was appointed as a special agent of the United States Department of Justice to lead the Prohibition office in Chicago in 1929. This was Ness’s first job after graduating from law school. This position was created specifically to investigate and harass Al Capone. Ness was a graduate of the University of Chicago.
May 23, 1952: On this day, Michael Schuster was born. A graduate of the University of Bordeaux‘s Tasting Diploma program, Michael Schuster studied wine tasting in France. In the early 1980s, he worked to build an award-winning retail company and now works as a writer and lecturer, founding his wine school, Wine Wise, in north London. He was a prolific writer and contributed entries for the Oxford Companion to Wine, as well as articles for Wine & Spirit and Decanter among others.
May 23, 2022: West Sonoma Coast AVA was established. It is an AVA located in the westernmost part of Sonoma County. It is also one of the newest appellations in the county, with approximately fifty vineyards. The appellation’s key grapes are Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
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