News & Feature

Reading the Fine Print



As the US wine industry limped out of Prohibition, the University of California at Davis hired Maynard Amerine as one of the Department of Viticulture and Enology’s first researchers. He later chaired the department, helping winemakers like Robert Mondavi produce wines that put California back on the world’s viticultural map. He also tasted wine from all over the world, often carefully removing the labels for his private collection. Recently, the university launched a digital crowdsourcing project to describe and transcribe the 5,000 or more labels he amassed. Mostly dating from the 1930s and 1940s, the collection includes wines produced in California before and during Prohibition, the labels o en accompanied by Amerine’s handwritten annotations. Anyone can lend a hand via the “Label This” transcription project, hosted by the UC-Davis Library’s website. In a few minutes’ time, you can add a 1934 Liebfraumilch Morgenspiel shipped by Avery’s of Bristol to the permanent historical record.

This article first appeared in W&S December 2016.