Commercial Wines at the Fair

Wine is big business in California. The Commercial Wine Competition at the State Fair, which judges entries to determine the best wines in the state, has been a tradition since the first state fair in 1854. Categories judged at the Fair range from dry white through red table wines to dessert wines, low-and de-alcoholized products, brandies, and flavored wines. Ribbons, awarded in each category, are Double Gold, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Wineries appeared early in California. The first in Sacramento was established in the 1850s by Jacob Knauth, who planted a twenty-acre vineyard east of Sacramento city, and later a larger one across the river in Yolo County.  By 1858, he was making wine of excellent quality, and winning  state fair premiums. Newer wineries, established in the 1870s and later, included Gerke Winery on Eleventh Street, the California Winery at Twenty-first and R, the Pioneer Winery across the street from them, the Eagle Winery on Eighteenth Street, the Mazzini Winery on Third Street and the Roma Winery on Fifteenth, which produced eighty thousand gallons of wine and six thousand gallons of brandy annually at its peak. None of the city’s pioneer wineries survived Prohibition.



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