FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Wine Tourism

While some wineries remained closed production facilities, many others welcomed the public, expanding their facilities and services. Wineries began featuring experiences—vineyard tours, opportunities to meet winemakers, events that paired food and wine, and, of course, tastings that typically included information delivered by knowledgeable staff about the particular characteristics of a given varietal or vintage.

Buena Vista tasting room, 1959

Buena Vista tasting room, 1959

Courtesy of Wine Institute of California

Bus tour, about 1970

Bus tour, about 1970

The Robert Mondavi Winery featured dramatic architecture, tasting rooms, event and classroom spaces, professional kitchens, art galleries, and ample space for busloads of visitors. Many wineries followed suit and opened their doors as well.

Courtesy of Wine Institute of California

Wine tour, 1999

Wine tour, 1999

In the 1990s, chauffeured limousines began ferrying groups of people to and between wineries. Unlike traditional wineries in Europe, those in the United States encourage the public to taste wine, join a wine club, and experience, for an hour or a weekend, the wine country lifestyle.

Gallo of Sonoma, 1999

Gallo of Sonoma, 1999

By 2000, as competition for wine consumers grew, family connections became an important marketing point for young producers.  Third-generation winemakers Gina and Matt Gallo include family history as part of the pitch in promoting their winery in Sonoma.

Santa Barbara Festival poster, 1989

Santa Barbara Festival poster, 1989

Other regions vied for recognition of their distinctive wines and a share of the tourist dollar. The Santa Barbara Festival commissioned this poster by Native American artist Harry Fonseca. The Native trickster and bon vivant, Coyote, is shown as a toga-clad Bacchus, enjoying his wine and encouraging others to do the same.

Lent by Rayna Green