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FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Wine at Home

For many immigrants from Italy, Spain, Germany, and eastern Europe, drinking wine with meals was an important part of daily life.  Under Prohibition, people were allowed to produce up to 200 gallons per year for their own use, which allowed them to maintain this essential tradition of the table.

Home winemaking, early 20th century

An Italian immigrant family used this equipment until 1964. Francesco Lia (later changed to Lee) emigrated from the Catanzaro region of Italy around 1902, and worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines before settling in New Jersey.

Wine and equipment gifts of John Lee

Sulphur strips

Sulphur strips were burned inside barrels to kill bacteria.

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Crushed grapes were transferred to the press.

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Wine press

Juice pressed from the crushed grapes was stored in wooden barrels for aging before bottling.

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Wine, 1964

This 1964 vintage bottled in a recycled soda bottle was the last vintage produced by Francesco Lee.

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Family gathering, about 1950

Family gathering, about 1950

Members of the California winemaking Pedroncelli family gathering for an outdoor meal that includes wine.

Courtesy of Pedroncelli Family and Winery