A century later, a look back at Prohibition in Sonoma County

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


Congress ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution on Jan. 16, 1919, marking the dawn of Prohibition across the United States. Although the law would not go into effect until the following year, the legislation had long-term impacts in Sonoma County, where burgeoning beer and wine industries were just taking flight.

To stay afloat alcohol-related industries had to think outside the box. Hop growers sold their wares to European brewers. Grape growers switched to prunes and other crops. Winemakers produced sacramental wine or turned to bootlegging.

Still, many vintners and brewers could not stay profitable. Of the 17 Dry Creek Valley wineries producing in 1919, only seven reopened after Prohibition.

The Volstead Act, passed in October 1919, enforced the 18th Amendment, making it illegal to produce or sell alcoholic beverages — except for family consumption. As a result, home brewing and winemaking took off.

Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir grapes were shipped to East Coast consumers. California Zinfandel growers saw their acreage increase during Prohibition years.

Ratified on Dec. 3, 1933, the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition and opened the doors for the taxation of alcoholic beverages throughout the U.S. A case of Korbel champagne from the Guerneville cellars was among the many thank-you gifts shipped to the White House after the repeal.

Click through our gallery above to learn more about the Prohibition years in Sonoma County.

Please read our commenting policy
  • No profanity, abuse, racism, hate speech or personal attacks on others.
  • No spam or off-topic posts. Keep the conversation to the theme of the article.
  • No disinformation about current events. Claims of "Fake News" will be delayed for moderation
  • No name calling. "Orange Menace", "Libtards", etc. are not respectful.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine