Pouring bottle of red wine into a glass
Food - Drink
Church Loopholes During Prohibition Saved California's Wine Industry
During the Prohibition era, which lasted from 1920 to 1933, the sale, production, transportation, and consumption of “intoxicating liquors” was illegal. During this time, California vineyards couldn't use their abundant wine grapes to make wine, until a loophole appeared that made the Roman Catholic Church’s sacramental wine legal.
Sacramental wine is one of the keystones of a Catholic Holy Communion, but Prohibition laws made obtaining it almost impossible. Luckily, David Blair, the strict commissioner of internal revenue throughout most of Prohibition, eased up on the ban of sacramental wine, allowing priests to store and use it for religious purposes.
What prompted Blair's adherence to religious freedom is unclear, but the decision would prove to have major implications for California's wine industry. Within two years of the easement, California had a booming sacramental wine industry, and without this loophole, California's wine industry would likely have died during Prohibition.