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University of California Berkeley 

University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 

Burke H. Critchfield 

Carl F. Wente 
Andrew G. Prericks 


With an Introduction by 
Maynard A. Amerine 

1972 by The Regents of the University of California 




Burke Critchfield being interviewed 
March 9, 1970 

Photograph by Catherine Harroun 

This manuscript is open for research purposes. 
All literary rights in the manuscript, including 
the right to publish, are reserved to the Bancroft 
Library of the University of California at Berkeley. 
No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication 
without the written permission of the Director of The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California at 

Requests for permission to quote for publication 
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History 
Office, ^86 Library, and should include identification 
of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. 

TABLE OP CONTENTS Burke H. Critchf ield, Carl P. Wente, 

Andrew G. Frericks 













APPENDIX I Memorandum by Burke H. Critchfield, 1970 52 

APPENDIX II Report by Burke H. Critohfield to the 

Wine Institute, June 1935 53 

APPENDIX III Members of Central California Wineries, Inc. 55 



INDEX - Burke H. Critchfield, Carl P. Wente 64 
(For Wines and Grapes see page 69) 



INDEX - Andrew G. Frericks 79 



The California Wine Industry Oral History Series, a 
project of the Regional Oral History Office, was initiated 
in 1969 t the year noted as the bicentenary of continuous 
wine making in this state. It was undertaken through the 
action and with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, 
and under the direction of University of California faculty 
and staff advisors at Berkeley and Davis. 

The purpose of the series is to record and preserve 
information on California grape growing and wine making that 
has existed only in the memories of wine men. In some cases 
their recollections go back to the early years of this 
century, before Prohibition. These recollections are of 
particular value because the Prohibition period saw the 
disruption of not only the industry itself but also the 
orderly recording and preservation of records of its 
activities. Little has been written about the Industry from 
late in the last century until Repeal. There is a real 
paucity of information on the Prohibition years (1920-1933), 
although some wine making did continue under supervision of 
the Prohibition Department. The material in this series on 
that period, as well as the discussion of the remarkable 
development of the wine industry in subsequent years (as 
yet treated analytically in few writings) will be of aid to 
historians. Of particular value is the fact that frequently 
several individuals have discussed the same subjects and 
events or expressed opinions on the same ideas, each from 
his own point of view. 

Research underlying the interviews has been conducted 
principally in the University libraries at Berkeley and 
Davis, the California State Library, and In the library of 
the Wine Institute, which has made its collection of in 
many cases unique materials readily available for the 

Three master indices for the entire series are being 
prepared, one of general subjects, one of wines, one of 
grapes by variety. These will be available to researchers 
at the conclusion of the series in the Regional Oral History 
Office and at the library of the Wine Institute. 


The Regional Oral History Office was established to 
tape record autobiographical Interviews with persons who 
have contributed significantly to recent California history. 
The office is headed by Willa K. Baum and is under the 
administrative supervision of James D, Hart, the Director 
of The Bancroft Library, 

Ruth Telser 
Project Director 
California Wine Industry 
Oral History Series 

1 March 1971 

Regional Oral History Office 
Jj-86 The Bancroft Library 
University of California, Berkeley 



Burke H. Critohfield 

Burke H. Critchfield was born in North Dakota in 1888. 
He received an M.A. in agricultural economics from the 
University of Minnesota and worked as a market specialist 
for government and private organizations before coming to 

In 1927 he came to California for the Federal Bureau of 
Economics. Seven years later he was employed by the Bank of 
America. At a critical stage in the post-Prohibition period 
of the California wine industry, he played an important role 
in protecting the bank s loans to the newly developing wine 
industry and in industry-wide measures on behalf of the whole 
industry. In 1935 the bank lent him to the Wine Institute, 
which according to his account he had played an important part 
in organizing with the potent aid of A. P. Giannini. He 
served as lobbyist in various states. 

This interview was taped when Mr. Critchfield was 82 
years old and only six months before his death. It therefore 
often raises questions which are not easily answered. It is 
not clear to this reader (p. 18 et seq. ) whether Critchfield 
is talking about the Wine Institute or the grape prorate 
program of 1938. He was active in the prorate program of 
1938-9 and. then in planning and later in operating the Central 
California Wineries. 

The story of the genesis and death of Central California 
Wineries is covered, in detail. Certainly all the details are 
not given here. The anti -trust aspect of the case is only 
sketchily referred to. Critchfield. frankly admits that a 
personality conflict was involved. The details of the 
liquidation of Central California Wineries are not clear in 
the interview but are made clearer in the Interview History. 

As to who was most responsible for the organization of 
the Wine Institute, time will decide. Mr. Critchfield assumes 
major credit and perhaps he deserves it though little 
specific evidence is given in the interview. 

His career is best summarized in his own words, "I m a 


Carl Wente 

Carl Wente came to the Bank of Italy at a very early 
date. (He was manager of the Madera branch in 1919.) Much 
later, from 1952 to 195^, he was president of the Bank of 

Because of his father s winery at Livermore and of his 
two brothers who made Wente Bros into an important wine 
company, he was always interested in the wine industry. 
Doubtless he followed Critchfield s efforts closely. Hence 
his paper, included here as an over-all view of matters 
Critchfield discussed in particulars. 

Maynard A. Amerine 
Professor, Viticulture and 

101 Wickson Hall 

University of California at Davis 

23 February 1972 


Burke H. Critchf ield was Interviewed on March 9, 1970, 
In his study at his home in St. Helena, where he and Mrs. 
Critchfield had lived since his retirement. Correspondence 
had preceded the interview, and Mr. Critchfield had gathered 
papers to refer to. Copies of some were made and have been 
drawn upon for footnotes, and for the following account of 
his career with the Bank of America. 

The interview was held in two sessions, one in the 
morning, then another in mid-afternoon after Mr. Critchfield 
had had time to lunch and rest. He spoke quite clearly, but at 
times he and the interviewer were not entirely understanding each 
other, and there was also some lack of time sequence in his 
account. He later wrote out and sent to the interviewer the 
memorandum that forms Appendix I. 

The initial transcript, with questions by the interviewer 
intended to clarify some points, was sent to Mr. Critchfield 
September 21, 1970. On October 23, before he had had an 
opportunity to check it, Mr. Critchfield died. His nephew, 
Burke M. Critchfield of Livermore, read it over and made some 
minor corrections in wording. 

To clarify the sequence of events discussed in the 
interview, the following account has been prepared. 

Burke H. Critchfield entered the employment of the Bank 
of America on February 26, 193^, as a vice president and 
continued to hold that position until October 1, 19^1, when 
he took a leave of absence prior to terminating his employment, 
according to the bank s records. An article in the San 
Francisco Examiner of February 27, 193^, announced his 
appointment and stated: "Critchfield, who has been in charge 
of crop production loans with the Federal Intermediate Credit 
Bank in Berkeley since November last, will supervise the same 
type of credit with Bank of America." 

One can speculate that A. P. Giannini, the bank s founder 
and active head, was impressed by Critchf ield s previous work 
with the Giannini Agricultural Foundation of the University of 
California in setting up the California Prune Pool and the 
California Prune Control Board to stabilize the state s prune 
market. (It is described in Marquis and Bessie R. James, 



On January 8, 1935 A. P. Gianninl sent the following 
telegram to Paul Garrett of Garrett & Company, in Brooklyn, 
New York: 

Under auspices California State Chamber of Commerce 
grape and wine industry struggling very hard 
organize Wine Institute Stop Undertaking now seems 
assured of success Stop We loaned Mr. Crltchfield 
to Chamber to assist during organization period Stop 
Wine Institute has now asked that we loan Critchfield 
for period of time to work for Institute in advancing 
the interests of the grape and wine industry nationally 
throughout Eastern states and Washington Stop Am 
Informed sixty per cent of California industry signed 
up and strenous efforts are being made to obtain 
complete participation Stop Believe very helpful to 
Wine Institute in obtaining additional signatures if 
you sign up your California interests Stop Would 
personally appreciate Stop We are gratified to loan 
Critchfield further and assist industry in every way 
possible if the individuals in the industry do their 

The bank did loan Critchfield for the legislative work, 
as he recalled in his Interview (pp. 49-50). In April the 
Institute reported that he had "during the past two months... 
been assisting the Wine Institute in [an] advisory capacity 
in surveying Eastern and Midwestern legislative and regulative 
problems pertaining to wine [and] is in the East again after 
a brief stay in California. 11 

During the following months he sent in many reports on the 
legal status of wine in states in the East and as far west 
as Utah. (See Appendix II for his report on quality standards. ) 
It may be, however, that Mr. Critchfield s memory played him 
false when he recalled that he had spent "most of a year" on 
the legislative work, for on July 12 the board of directors 
of the Wine Institute passed a resolution thanking him for 
his efforts as if they had been concluded. ("Mr. Critchfield 
has [worked] unceasingly over a period of many months, without 
regard for his personal interest or his health, to perform 
the difficult task and to obtain results which were beyond 
the most optimistic expectations....") And no longer did out- 
of -state reports appear over his name. 

It is not known whether Critchfield participated in the 
1935 Wine Institute drive, mentioned by Giannini in his 
telegram to Garrett, that increased membership from ?2 in 



March to 18? in November. Probably Critchf ield s references 
in his interview (pp. 18 and iJ-8) of work toward increased 
membership refers to the three-pronged 1938 drive discussed 

The only 1936 event specifically mentioned in Critchf ield s 
interview is the securing of wines for the American Bankers 
Association meeting in San Francisco, an action which tied 
in with the California industry s continuing effort to raise 
the prestige of its products. A rather elaborate 16-page 
pamphlet on the California industry and its wines was prepared 
by the Bank of America to present to the bankers with the 
wines. Mr. Critchf ield s copy is on deposit in the Bancroft 

In 193? the Bank of America took Community Grape Corpora 
tion away from the Berkeley Bank for Cooperatives, as Critchf ield 
related in his interview (p. 2?). On August 10, he wrote the 
following letter to Community: 

August 10, 1937 

Community Grape Corporation 
Lodi, California 

Attn: W. A. Spooner, Mgr. 

Dear Bill: 

In line with your request as to what terms our Bank would 
make for a loan that would enable you to make your 1937 crush 
to advantage and give your Growers substantial cash advances, 
we are willing to make the following arrangements: 

On approximately 650,000 gallons of Sweet Wine which you 
now have in storage in Lodi we will make an advance of 20^ 
per gallon; and on your 60,000 proof gallons of Warehoused 
Commercial Brandy in new oak cooperage, we will loan you 50^ 
per proof gallon. This will give you $160,000 and this will 
enable you to retire your Berkeley Bank for Cooperatives 
obligation of $123,89^.07, and gives you a working capital of 
$52,000.00 in excess of your Berkeley Bank obligation. 

On new Sweet Wines we will advance 20^ a gallon when 
fortified and upon satisfactory chemical analysis, and 
tentatively 50^ per proof gallon on Commercial Brandy in new 
oak cooperage. Subject to our approval of quality. 


We would not require any chattel mortgage or deed of 
trust on any of your property but require you to warehouse 
the wine with a reputable warehouse company. The Laurence* 
Warehouse Company has given us a figure of warehousing costs 
to you of $150.00 a month over all, assuming an average 
inventory of one and a half million gallons. 

Wine would be released to Fruit Industries, Ltd., 
according to sales agreement and all proceeds from Fruit 
Industries from wines and brandies now in their pools and from 
shipments to be made to be assigned to the Bank of America, 
Lodi Branch, with the understanding that from these monthly 
proceeds deduction would be made of 2Q& per gallon on the old 
wine released and 22$ per gallon on new wine released and 
per proof gallon on brandy released and the balance of the 
proceeds to be credited to your account. Interest to be at 

Cordially yours, 


B. H. Critchfield, 

Vice President 

Commodity Loan Dept., 

Bank of America, N.T. & S.A. 



An unsigned typed memorandum dated August 13 reported 
that the sub-committee of the bank s general finance committee 
had approved a commitment of $575*000 and specified its uses 
in detail. The Lodi Times of August 1b, 1937, reported the loan 
as follows: 

Grower-members of the Community Grape Corporation 
will receive an advance price of $15 per ton for grapes 
delivered to the winery this fall crushing season, J. V. 
Bare, president of the big co-operative association, 
announced yesterday. 

This will be the highest advance price ever paid 
by a co-operative winery and is $5 per ton higher than 
the customary $10 payment made by grower-operated 
concerns . 

Arrangements to make this larger advance to their 
151 grower-members were completed Thursday by Bare and 


W. A. Spooner, secretary-manager, with the Bank of 
America. .. 

Bare reported that the Community has paid off all 
of its financing obligations to the Berkeley Bank for 
Co-Operatives. . . 

The entrance of the Bank of America into the wine 
producing financing field follows the state-wide 
banking corporation s realization of the unprecedentedly 
strong position of the wine industry, based on the 
healthy condition of the wine markets, greater stability 
in the wine price structure, increasing wine consumption 
and generally favorable prospects for the 1937 grape 

The Bank of America, acknowledging the increased 
cost of production of grapes and wines, has adopted this 
winery financing policy as a means of aiding the grape 
growers in receiving a higher advance price for their 
product. The bank expects to put approximately $3,000,000 
into the grape and wine deal this fall... 

Bare said that this Bank of America financing 
program will have a salutory effect upon stabilizing 
both the price for grapes and for wine and brandy. He 
declared that his higher advance to co-operative members 
is in keeping with the facts revealed at the Wine 
Institute meeting, where vintners, growers and bankers 
agreed that the price for 1937 grapes should range from 
$17*50 to $22.50 per ton, delivered at the winery... 

Nineteen thirty-eight was the year the stabilization plan 
known as the prorate was organized. The background of the 
program is summarized in a paper prepared for the Wine Institute 
in 19^3 "by Jessie Schilling Blout titled A Brief Economic 
History of the California Wine-Growing Industry C pages 28 and 
29). In 1937 and 1938 "bumper crops, accompanied by a marked 
reduction in the demand for raisins. . .led to depressed grape 
prices generally and a greatly increased crush by commercial 
wineries... A still further price-depressant was the Federal 
tax on brandy used in the production of dessert wine... 
According to the California Agricultural Prorate Commission, 
In the spring and early summer of 1938, it became apparent 
to the informed growers and vintners of California that there 
impended a very serious economic problem for both elements of 
the industry. " 

It was apparent to A. P. Giannini also, for on April 14 
he wrote to Paul Garrett (in part): 

A program is being developed among California wineries 
for substantial wine industry advertising and market 
stabilization which is being fostered by the Wine 
Institute. Mr. Critohfield will be glad to get your 
detailed views and suggestions, as he is keeping in 
very close contact with this industry in which we are 
all interested. 

This effort included strengthening the industry organiza 
tion as well as developing an advertising program and putting 
together the stabilization plan, and it is probably this 
tripartate effort that Critchfield referred to somewhat 
obscurely on pages 18, 20 and 48 of his interview. The 
advertising account was given, as Critchfield indicated, to 
the J. Walter Thompson Company, and on January 2?, 1938, Arthur 
C. Parlow of that firm wrote to A. P. Giannini to say "we are 
pleased and grateful to have received that appointment." 

The prorate, which according to Blout diverted 45$ of the 
grape crop to brandy, was financed equally by the Reconstruction 
Finance Corporation and private banks. Biography of a Bank 
states (page 402) that the program "ultimately" cost $7,400,000, 
that originally twenty banks offered to take half of the 
financing, but that fifteen dropped out and "the burden was 
borne by the Bank of America which contributed 80.4 per cent 
of the bankers share, with four other banks contributing the 
remainder. " 

While the prorate proved successful in the long run, 
prospects for the 1939 vintage year were poor, with another 
large crop and depressed prices anticipated. It was this 
situation which brought about the formation of Central 
California Wineries, Inc. 

An article in the Fresno Bee of September 9 1939, began: 

Approval by representative California banking and vintner 
interests of a comprehensive 1939 wine grape industry 

frogram which the sponsors say will result in an estimated 
8,000,000 increase in returns to growers was announced 
today by the recently formed Central California Wineries, 
Inc.... The new non profit organization which filed 
articles of incorporation at the state capital and in 


Fresno, is composed of a group of about thirty* 
independent wineries and is supported through 
contractual agreements with virtually all of the 
major independents and cooperative wineries.... 
Calvin L. Russell, of the Tulare Winery Company at 
Tulare, is president of the organization and head 
quarters have been established in the Helm Building, 
Fresno. Other directors are Joseph Di Giorgio, of 
the Earl Fruit Company; Fred Vieth, Mount Tivy Winery; 
J. B. Gundert, Acampo Winery, and Mount K. Wild of 
Fresno, counsel. 

On November 8 following, an article in the Los Angeles 
Times described the organization. It quoted Critchfield, 
"vi ce president of the Bank of America, whose services were 
loaned to the... group to aid them in the development of the 
new organization," on its objectives. And it quoted A. J. 
Gock, vice chairman of the board of the bank (in part) as 
follows : 

Even before the new organization commenced operations, 
the beneficial effects of the program began to make 
themselves felt. Growers* returns on their grapes moved 
upward, and finished wine prices also strengthened. 
Central California Wineries has been in active operation 
for two months now, and further gains in grape prices to 
growers and in finished wine prices have taken place. 

Critchfield had been loaned to the C.C.W. some time. in the 
early summer of 1939. He became general manager. 

In the spring of 19^-0, C.C.W. bought two wineries and 
placed them under Central Winery, Inc., newly organized by 
C.C.W. members. The two wineries were the Louis M. Martini 
establishment in Kingsburg (reported in the Fresno Bee of 
March 12, 19*1-0) and the Greystone cellar near St. Helena, which 
the Bank of America had taken over from the Blsceglia Brothers 
(reported in the St. Helena Star of April 19, 19^-0). The cost 
of the Martini winery plus "an additional large storage and 
blending plant" to be constructed was given as "more than 
$1,000,000." The magazine Wines and Vines, in its May 19^0 
issue, gave the selling price of the Greystone cellar as 
approximately $300,000. A "2,000,000 gallon inventory of 
vintage sweet wine" was included in the Martini purchase, and 

*There were 19 members during most of C.C.W. s life. See 
Appendix III. 


an unspecified amount of "fine old stocks of Napa and Sonoma 
County dry wines" was included in the Greystone sale. The 
reason for C.C.W. s purchase was given as a need for storage, 
blending, "bottling and marketing facilities. 

In announcing the purchase of the Kingsburg winery, 
the Pacific Rural Press of March 23, 19^0 noted: 

San Joaquin Valley growers were generally quite 
happy last season with the cash support CCW gave to 
the deal, despite occasional complaints. This next 
season should now see equally prompt cash and a much 
stronger market.... The Bank of America has been the 
principal financial support of CCW and has been the 
angel for many of its member wineries while the going 
was discouraging. It has, in numerous instances which 
we peeked into [sic], fought to keep out of any ownership 
interest and that still seems to continue to be that 
bank s policy in this new expansion deal. s 

Critchfield continued as C.C.W. *s general manager into 

In his interview he indicated that he left the 
organization because of difficulties with Di Giorgio, and his 
own physical fatigue. (Friends of Critchfield have stated 
that he was a man who, when he took on a Job, frequently worked 
to the point of exhaustion. ) There is a suggestion in his 
interview (page 42) that the arrival of Louis Golan may have 
been the immediate cause of his departure. An additional 
circumstance that could have been a factor was a change in the 
presidency of C.C.W. In February 1941, Calvin Russell, with 
whom (as Critchfield indicated in his interview) he worked well, 
was made chairman of the board and was succeeded as president 
by Ralph S. Heaton, with whom Critchfield indicated he did not 
see eye to eye. At the time, however, according to an article 
in the Fresno Bee of February 6, 1941, announcing the changes, 
Critchfield was continuing as general manager and assuming "a 
new position as executive vice president." 

The precise dates of Golan *s arrival in the organization 
and Critohfield s departure have not been ascertained. In 
his interview, Critchfield recalled that he "went back to the 
bank and then took a long vacation" (page 42). The vacation 
may have begun before he was placed on leave of absence on 
October 1, 1941, or on that date. 

The end of C.C.W. came the following year. Although 
Critchfield was no longer associated with it and was 
increasingly absorbed by his grain bin project, he continued 


to be informed of events. The subpoena which he mentioned in 
his interview (t>age 44) was dated June 20, 194-2. By it, the 
United States District Court ordered the Capital Company, a 
Bank of America affiliate, and certain individuals to produce 
specified papers relating to the wine industry and C.C.W. at 
the June 24- meeting of the federal grand jury in San Francisco. 
Critchfield *s name was Included among those of bank officials, 
but a bank representative requested that it be deleted because 
he was no longer an active officer. 

Various segments of the industry, many not related to 
C.C.W. , immediately responded to the threat of what was 
understood to be anti-trust action by raising objections in 
Washington. It has been said that a delegation went to 
President Hoosevelt. It is known that on July 1, 2 and 3 
Emanuel Cellar presided over informal hearings in a House 
of Representative subcommittee room at which representatives 
of government agencies and the wine Industry appeared. The 
hearings resulted in a memorandum being sent to Attorney 
General Biddle reporting the conclusion that probably no 
infractions of the anti-trust laws had been committed, but 
if they had, they had been committed unwittingly, and 
suggesting that indictment proceedings be suspended. 

Mount K. Wild, who as Critchfield noted was sent to 
Washington, wrote to Critchfield on July 14-, 194-2, on Mayflower 
Hotel stationery as follows: 

Dear Burke 

We are still here - and according to today s 
developments I will either head for the coast immediately 
or be here perhaps as much as a week more. Perhaps you 
saw in the papers an announcement that the Federal Grand 
Jury was discharged Saturday without returning an 
indictment in connection with an important investigation 
it had made regarding a California industry and many 
Individuals connected with it. There was quite a row 
out there and the foreman of the jury demanded the 
resignation of Attorney General Biddle - no less - for 
obstructing justice. There is still much to be done 

Was very interested in your grain bin literature.... 
May have to get one for the doghouse use you suggested - 
come here for two days - been here three weeks - and will 
surely need a place of refuge when I get back 

Best regards 


A long article headed "U.S. Jurors Urge Ouster of Biddle" 
had appeared in the San Francisco Examiner of July 12, 19^2. 
This one read in part: 

Hardly had Federal Judge Michael J. Roche 
yesterday afternoon discharged the Federal grand Jury 
which has been sitting here since last March, than its 
foreman David E. Snodgrass, dean of the Hastings 
College Law School issued an angry statement in which 
he demanded 1 the immediate resignation of Attorney 
General Francis Biddle for obstructing Justice" in the 
Federal Courts here.... 

That the Snodgrass statement was not his solely. . . 
was made plain by other members of the Federal Jury. ... 
[W]hen reporters asked them if they concurred in the 
Snodgrass view, fully three-quarters of them uttered or 
nodded affirmatives. 

The nature of the case on which the Jury had been 
working, and on which they charge they were denied an 
opportunity to vote, cannot be revealed, beyond the fact 
that it is an antitrust action. Nor can the identities 
of the individuals or firms or parties to have been 
named in the proposed indictment be publicized. 

Yesterday s explosive Snodgrass statement. . .came.. . 
as an aftermath to the occurrence a few days ago in open 
court, when Foreman Snodgrass told Judge Roche that there 
had been interference from Washington in the case before 
the Jury. . . . 

[Yesterday] Wallace Rowland, special assistant to 
the attorney general. . .asked that Judge Roche extend the 
Jury s life, so that additional witnesses might be heard 
disinterested* witnesses Rowland termed them, who could 
testify as to government concurrence in the pending 
antitrust matter. The intimation was that in view of 
the Government s concurrence, the matter should be 
brought up in civil action, not in a criminal indictment 
by the grand Jury. 

It was probably following this that preparations were made 
for a civil action, although no date has been ascertained. A 
civil complaint and two consent decrees were drawn up ready 
for filing. Although the complaint contains no date, the 
alternate consent decrees indicate that the complaint was to 
have been filed in either October or November, 19^2. None of 
the papers was filed. 

, . ." 


The case was to be titled "United States of America v. 
Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association et al." 
The other defendants included the Capital Company, the Wine 
Institute, Central California Wineries, Inc. and its members, 
27 other wineries, and many individuals associated with the 
bank and the industry. The wineries listed were asserted to 
produce more than 80$ of California s sweet wines. The 
defendants were charged with combining and conspiring to fix 
sweet wine prices and terms of sale. The plaintiff asked 
that the court enjoin the defendants from continuing such 
action or engaging in similar action in the future. 

The consent decrees differ slightly, but both assume 
denial of all allegations by all the defendants, and their 
consent to refrain from the practices mentioned in the 
complaint. They also require dissolution of Central 
California Wineries, Inc., Central Winery, Inc. and several 
other organizations. One specifies return of the Greys tone 
winery to the bank and disposal of the Kingsburg winery. 
Since they were not filed, no legal action ensued. 

In November 19^2, Central Winery, Inc. sold the Kingsburg 
and Greystone wineries and their Inventories to Schenley 
Distilleries, Inc. for "approximately $^,000,000," according 
to the Fresno Bee of November 13, 19^2. The figure is given 
as $3,800,000 in Biography of a Bank (page ^05). It is 
impossible to compare the buying and selling prices of the 
properties for in addition to inexact figures on the sales, 
no detailed list of inventories, added equipment, and improve 
ments included in the transactions is available. It is 
reasonable to assume that the sale represented a profit, for 
World War II had begun and the wine situation had improved 

The same newspaper account indicated that Central 
Winery, Inc. would be liquidated. According to Biography 
Of a Bank* Central Winery was liquidated and di stributed a 
profit of $657,000, and when Central California Wineries, Inc. 
liquidated it distributed $895,000 to its members. 

When the bank s part in financing C.C.W. was brought up 
at a 1950 Federal Reserve Board investigation of "monopolistic 
tendency charges against Transamerlca Corp." (according to 
the San Francisco Chronicle of April 13, 1950), Jesse W. Tapp 
stated that "the firm was formed when the wine business in 
California was in the trough of depression. It was investigated 
by the Department of Justice as a possible infringement of 


antitrust laws but the case was dropped.... The "board s 
counsel asked Tapp why the wineries* organization dissolved. 
Tapp said it was because it had the opportunity to dispose 
of the various wineries at profitable prices." 

Ruth Teiser 
Project Director 
California Wine Industry 
Oral History Series 

3 March 1972 

Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 


Burke H. Critchfield 


[Burke H. Critchfleld was born in Hunter, North Dakota, 
February 10, 1888. His father, a doctor, died when he was 
in his last year of high school, and he worked on a farm to 
pay his expenses during his college years. He went first to 
the University of Minnesota, then to the Agricultural College 
of North Dakota, where he was awarded the B.S. degree in 1909- 
He returned later to the University of Minnesota and received 
an M.A. in agricultural economics. 

His career as an agricultural economist and marketing 
specialist included heading private marketing organizations 
and making surveys for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 
various parts of the country. He spent a year working for 
the Idaho State Director of Agriculture organizing farm 
marketing programs, then was asked, by the U.S. Bureau of 
Agricultural Economics to make a study of dried prunes in 

(Interview Date - March 9 19 ?0) 




The head of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics 
said, "Burke, how would you like to go down to 
California and represent the Secretary of the 
Department of Agriculture in the marketing 
activities and research in the western group of 
states?" And that was how I came to California.* 

I see. 

That was it. And I came because that was a new 
approach. Now, this was a study of the production, 
marketing and demand; or, demand, marketing and 
production. This was the first definite promulgation 
of that type of agricultural economic philosophy, 
you see. Well, they thought I could do a lot of 
good. I did. I got the University staff started. 
I did some research work in the California State 
Department [of Agriculture], you see. They had 
some money at the time. 

We made a study on the topic, "What does the 
consumer know about the quality of canned peaches?" 
I T>ut men in six markets at least. 

*In June 1927, Mr. Critchfield was appointed head 
of the San Francisco regional office of the United 
States Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 





This was with the United States Department of 
Agriculture in cooperation with the California 
State Department of Agriculture? 

Yes. I became head [of the project] eventually.* 
We had already sent a man out to California to take 
up this federal -state job in charge of all the 
marketing activities. By the time that I was 
there a few months, it was recognized that he 
wasn t going to stay. He was a little too old 
one thing. And he made his approach too much: 
"There s Just one thing for you to do pull out 
these trees, pull out these vines," and so forth. 

Here I am in California and punching the 
University up to put some of those good young men 
they were training, agricultural economists, to 
take some of these sick areas. They had a very 
good man by the name of R.L. Adams, who was not 
head of Agricultural Economics for that was [Dr. 
Henry E.] Erdman, who was a farm management man. 
He [Adams] had gone to Cornell and taken his 
Master s I don t know whether he ever got a 
doctorate or not but he was very adaptable. 

He was at Berkeley or at Davis? 


At the University? 

At the University.** The first Job they undertook 
was one down at Delhi. That was when they had 
settled that with veterans of the first World War. 
They put them into small areas. It was quite 
obvious that the size of farm was [too small. That 
was] one of the things that they would conclude out 
of it. 

*In February 1928, Governor C.C. Young of California 
announced the appointment of Mr. Critchfield as 
chief of the state Division of Markets. 

**See also: Henry E. Erdman, Agricultural Economics.. 
1922-1969, an interview completed by the Regional 
Oral History Office, University of California, 
Berkeley, in 1971. 


Where was it? 







Delhi. You know where Delhi is? You know where 
Modesto is? Well, between Modesto and Merced, 
about halfway, is the little town of Delhi, which 
when I first came out here was one of [Dr. El wood] 
Mead s projects. Do you remember who Mead was? 
He was the great man for settling up these projects, 
and he was the man Lake Mead was named for down 
there, until they changed it back to Hoover Dam. 
Well, we found out that neither the retailers nor 
the consumer had any very good idea of the quality 
or the relation between the quality and price. 
We picked up somewhere between 500 and 1,000 cans 
of peaches and had the Canners League [of California] 
experts cut them and grade them without knowing 
whose they were. Otherwise they d doctor it up. 
Now, that publication was published by the peach 
growers association. 

I stayed with the state on that job for two 
or three years three years, I guess. But there 
was too much politics in it. 

May I get the chronology of this straight? You 
came out for the federal government? 

The Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 
Then did you transfer to the state? 

No, I never transferred to the state. I always was 
a federal man, you see. But I was in charge of a 

Then your title of Chief of the State Division of 
Markets was under a joint federal-state program? 

Critchfield: That s right. 



[Tape is turned] You were saying that you got a 
series of radio... 

Radio short waves, and put in a communicating 
netrwork. I got a hold of a young man who was 
smart enough to build the equipment. He was very 
smart in this particular line, and I got him when 
I got the network. So we put in this network 
Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, during the grape 
season several others, Salinas, the carrot area 







down there, this side of Santa Barbara; Los Angeles; 
the Imperial Valley. 

We got the grant of the use of those wave 
lengths and kept them for twenty-odd years. 

For agricultural information? 

For agricultural information. We had a leased wire 
coning in to Sacramento from San Francisco, and 
then we just beamed it out and back again and 
distributed information that way. 

I see. When did you start that? 

I came out here in 2?, you see, but I kept my 
federal connections all this time, and they paid 
rjart of my salary until I left. I think it was *28 
that we got that federal grant. 

You mentioned that there were politics, 
there were. 

I m sure 

The man who was State Director of Agriculture was 
a little German who had got his technical training 
at Kew Gardens, and he was very close to the citrus 
group. They more or less ran the show. The things 
that they wanted done got the prime consideration. 
They didn t need market information. That s one 
of the fine cooperatives. But the director and I 
didn t get along too well, and so finally we parted. 

It was during this period then that you first... 

Before I left, the first spring that I was there, 
James Mills he had that big operation and that 
big lemon grove up there west of Corning and down 
through there (900 acres) years ago was head of 
the Board of Regents for a little while, but he was 
a close friend of Mr. [George] Hecke, the Director 
of Agriculture. One day he called me and. he said, 
"There must be something that happened to the 
prune business somewhere. They have raised their 
offers to me for my prune crop, and they ve tried 
to buy it from me for so many cents over last 
year s price. See what you can find out." 

I got on the phone to Washington immediately 
and cabled to our man over in Munich, and he got 
on his horse quickly and found out that there had 



been a bad frost and the Yugoslavian prune crop 
was almost completely wiped out, that was the 
corn-petition for the prune business here in this 
country. So, following this, Steer sent me back 
directly a report. 


Critchfield: Lloyd Steer. 
Teiser: Who was he? 


He was in our foreign section of the Bureau of 
Agriculture; he was the foreign agricultural 
representative on the continent of Europe. 

At that time Union Oil Company had put in a 
broadcasting room for us in our office in San 
Francisco and in Sacramento, and we had broadcast 
facilities, and I got right on this. I had been 
building up a list of principal prune growers, and 
I got out a bulletin to them that day. As Mr. 
[Robert I.] Bentley, the president of California 
Packing Corporation, said, I saved the prune growers 
about five million dollars that year by advising 
them of the conditions and factors that were going 
to influence the prune market and the price of 
their prunes, and there were many similar opinions. 

We had one firm, Rosenberg Brothers, who were 
later purchased by Federated Growers or somebody. 
Because the Rosenberg girl was the only one left 
and she had the controlling stock, the [Rosenberg 
Brothers] had oversold to a tremendous extent, and 
they were trying to cover quickly. That was the 
kind of operation I was trying to help in direct 
economic things. Mr. Hecke didn t like it. Knowing 
he wouldn t like it, I didn t see him until the 
next day, because he was a customer for many years 
of Rosenberg s and always got what you called a 
"favorite customer position." Eventually we came 
to a parting of the ways. 

Mr. Bentley of the California Packing Corporation 
called me up one day and invited me to come over the 
first time I was in the City to have lunch with 
him. He said, "We know that you and George are not 
getting along very good, and we d like to have you 
take a position with the Canners League," or the 
Canners League and the peach growers. They had been 

Critchfield: talking about a joint operation because we were 
already getting too many peaches. We re getting 
now into a prorate. I went with the Canners 
League, and the peach growers paid part of my 
salary until mid- 32. We had a lot of those 
prorations with the canners paying the bill, 
instead of a grower prorate, it was a canner s 
prorate. There were two cooperatives at the time. 
One year we pulled out and offered the growers so 
much an acre to eliminate certain trees; of course 
we got the punk trees, but they did take out ten 
thousand acres of trees punk trees and poor 

By that time we got into the Depression of 
the early thirties, and a lot of the canners went 
busted, so we were at a point one particular day 
when the head of the Canners League said, "We want 
to keep everybody on; I m putting this proposition 
to you. We suggest that you offer to take half 
the salary during this period of depression." I 
said, "Well, that s all right with me," because I 
wanted to stay there. I was working on consumer 
problems consumer promotion and was beginning to 
get somewhere, so I wanted to stay while it was 
still hot in my mind. 

The head of the Regional Agricultural Credit 
Corporation, a part of the RFC Reconstruction 
Finance Corporation phoned me and asked me to come 
over to his office. He showed me a long telegram 
from Washington. Someone was charging that they 
were making commitments for loans that were impossible 
to pay out under the then existing conditions, and 
that it was going to upset some of the agricultural 
industries. That someone was E.W. Wilson, who later 
became State Superintendent of Banks, one of the 
finest men I ever worked for. He said, "I m going 
to admit that I don t know anything about these 
agricultural loans. I was given this job and I 
want to keep it, and the board that they have given 
me are the heads of the California Fruit Exchange 
in Sacramento and the head of a group of cattlemen 
all interested in getting every nickel they can out 
of the government for their members, which is 
all right." These were the men who met weekly or 
monthly and laid out the general policy, and Wilson 
didn t know enough to beat them down. He said, 
"Someone that I ve got confidence in has told me 


Critchfield: that you know the agricultural business here, and 
what you don t know you know how to find out 
about. I need somebody here who can take over. 
The vital thing of it is when these people want 
money, they ve got to make a request; up to now 
we haven t put out any money, but we want somebody 
who can scale these loans down if it s necessary 
or increase them if it s necessary." 

I said, "All right. I will come here and 
take over that job if you ll channel this through 
some of my close friends in the business of farming. 
They ll know. They know the people." He let me 
have six new men, and we prot the money back and 
did a wonderful Job. 

In 1932, Roosevelt took over, and they 
couldn t see any good in anything Hoover had done, 
so they took this over and built the new Farm Credit 
Administration, which was a good thing. It had 
been a very constructive set-up, and most of those 
individual banks now are on their own. 

Then a man came out from Washington and called 
me over to the Farm Credit offices, the Land Bank, 
and said, "We re going to take over the function 
of the Regional Agricultural Credit Corporation, 
and we d like to have you come over to the Inter 
mediate Credit Bank [in Berkeley] where the papers 
are going to be discounted and take over and build 
it up build up a division."* 

I then had the chance to pick out the men 
that I wanted that knew something. I went out 
then and virtually set up the production credit 
set-up, but I wasn t a Democrat. A good friend of 
mine from the Bank of America that had been up at 
Yuba City, who was a Democrat, immediately started 
to try to clear loans through that I didn t want, 
that I didn t think were sound, and on which they 
lost a lot of money. About that time I got a call 
from the Bank of America, Mr. Carl [P.] Wente, 
one day, and he said, "Mr. Mario [L.M.] Giannini 
and I are sitting here in his office and we d like 

*Mr. Critchfield took charge of crop production 
loans in the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank in 
November 1933. 




to talk to you." I said, "Carl, I ve been gone 
for five days over to Utah and down into Arizona 
and just got back, and I can t leave here for 
four or five days or more. I m tied up. My desk 
is loaded." He said, "Get on the next car and 
come over here." Did you ever see Mr. Wente? 

Yes, I ve talked to him. 

Once he brought over forty rice growers to us at 
the Regional Agricultural Credit Corporation, and 
we took good care of them, but the Production 
Credit lost a lot of rice growers. I was glad in 
a way to get out of there, although when I went in 
to tell Mr. [Reuben] Evans, who was the officer in 
charge of Intermediate Credit, that I was leaving 
him, he said, "You can t. We ve just elected you 
a vice president of Intermediate Credit Bank. The 
board of directors is just meeting now." I said, 
"Reuben, that wouldn t have made any difference if 
I had known it yesterday or the day before. I think 
I can contribute something to the Bank of America 
on its agricultural problems."* 





Before you get to the Bank of America, let me go 
back then and pick up the grape industry. You 
mentioned, when I asked you, that you had observed 
the grape industry during the years you had been 
out here, and knew something of the Donald Conn 
scheme project whatever you want to call it. 
Would you give us your account of that from where 
you sat, what your view of it was? 

They were setting up, as I remember, the Fruit 
Industries, a big institution somewhat along the 
lines of the Fruit Exchange in purpose. I ve kind 
of lost my thread on it a little bit now. 

Well, I can remind you that Donald Conn had come 
out here; he had been a railroad traffic man, I 
believe, had he not? 

*Mr. Critchfield was appointed a vice president of 
the Bank of America in February 193^. 




A promoter, 

Conn was a promoter, a railroad 



And he had tried to get the grape growers together 
in something called the California Vineyardists* 
Association. This was around 26 or 2?, about 
the time you came here, I think. Then a little 
later he was in on the establishment of Fruit 

Well, maybe I was biased against Conn s approach. 
He was inclined to make statements about what he 
was going to get as already established. He was 
a high pressure salesman, and he sold the chief of 
my bureau back there, who was a very wonderful man, 
Lloyd Tenney, Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural 
Economics, on coming out here and assisting him in 
doing that. I think I got that from Lloyd. Lloyd 
didn t stay with him too long. 


Well, I think it was Conn s tactics. Conn was a 
high-powered motor that would state what he hoped 
to do as an accomplished fact. Mr. Heoke was going 
to throw the energy of the State Department of 
Agriculture behind him, and I protested it, because 
it didn t turn out. It was over-promoted, and I 
didn t think that was the way they were going to 
solve it. 

Well, now here we are: I am at the bank [of 
America]. About the time I arrived there, Mario 
had a long spell of sickness. I went over there 
one afternoon, and they had brought us their 
customers, and they wanted them back. So we laid 
out a program. They knew how I had run the 
Regional. They had a staff of loan examiners, and 
not a one of them had ever been on a farm, I don t 
believe. This was at the Regional [Agricultural 
Credit Corporation] political appointees for some 
reason or other. When I got a hold of it, I took 
control with my men in the field. 

I didn t even get my money for eight or ten 
months. Wilson and his assistant (by the time 
that I got over there a day or two later after 
he d talked to me) had gotten into a hassle. He 
was an ex-banker but didn t know beans about 






You re not now referring to the Bank of America? 

No, over at the Regional set-up. No, at the bank 
I was a vice president. 

In charge of special programs, was that it? 

Production loans and agricultural counsel, more 
or less, of the bank. 

They paid you, though? 

Yes, but they never paid me very much. Those were 
days when we were Just getting out of a terrific 
economic tailspin. 

Now, in asking me to accept a vice presidency 
and take over a program to attempt to get the crop 
loans back, I had already been out and gotten quite 
a few of them reestablished in my work over in 
Berkeley. I started right in, and we took 10^ loans 
away that had applied for loans through the 
Production Credit at Stockton at one bank. There 
were so many of the bank managers in the Bank of 
America that had been burned up very badly for 
making bad loans on agricultural property that 
there was considerable resistance to taking it on. 
When "A. P." [Giannini] made his summer trip into 
the northern Sacramento Valley, these managers with 
their literature and budget (you control 
production always by budgets despite all of the 
hope on our part that they would go ahead) put up 
so much of a protest that he wired the main office 
and stopped the program temporarily. 

This was shortly after you went with the bank? 

Shortly after I went with them. I had never met 
him at that time, and. Mario was in the hospital for 
a long time then. Mr. Will [F.] Morrish of Berkeley, 
who had been head of the First National Bank of 
Berkeley, and A. P. didn t jive they didn t get 
along very well; it wasn t very long before he 
[Morrish] was out.* A. P. looked upon this as a 

*See also references to Morrish in: Marquis and 
Bessie R. James, Biography of a Bank. New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 


Critchfield: Morrish program and didn t know that his son [L.M.] 
and Carl Wente had it as their program. Here I 
was in a strange atmosphere. Anyway, it delayed 
their getting back into that field. 

They could have headed off Production Credit, 
because the men that I had working for me in the 
Regional in the R.F. C. program later became managers 
of the Production Credit for the Marysville district 
and other districts, and they knew their stuff. In 
fact, we tried to hire some of them for the bank, 
but there was a tendency for people to look upon 
the bank as a good time deal when things were 
good, but when they were tough they don t stay 
with you. There was that. That was true in the 
winery business. 

Before Carl Wente went to Nevada* there began 
to be an undercurrent of criticisms of the quality 
of the wines of California. There were some good 
ones. The Wentes put out good wine; Beaulieu did; 
California Grape Products little Horace Lanza and 
Harry Baccigaluppi had a very nice winery up at 
Ukiah, and they put out good wines. In the summer 
of 36 when the bankers from all over the United 
States and Mexico and Canada were here at the 
national convention, I was on a committee of four 
or five men to lay out the program of entertainment 
things we would, do for the bankers. The fellows 
had two ideas ; one was to give them an airplane 
ride around the city (they had leased a TWA plane) 
and an orchid for the women at the grand ball. 

I said, "I ve been thinking of an idea, and I 
think it would be good. We ll get out a little 
carton of wine, good quality, a sauterne tyne, a 
Beaulieu Cabernet, and a bulk-process chamDagne 
from the Padre Winery down at Cucamonga, and Wente s." 
The California Grape Products that was -Lanza s 
group submitted a burgundy from up there. I 
suggested this idea. I said, "We can get this wine 
at wholesale price. Let s go and talk to A. P." 
Three or four of us went over and outlined our plan. 

A. P. said to me, "Burke, can you get good 
enough wine?" I said, "Here s my idea of doing it. 
I ll get samples from our customers mainly, but in 
a few cases we ll give non-customers a chance. I ll 
get them to submit samples and I will get Edmund [A.] 

*He became president of the First National Bank 
of Nevada on June 16, 19 3^ 






Rossi and A.R. Morrow and Lee Jones and one or 
two others to put them into six ounce containers 
with no label on them except a number." Fruit 
Industries had an awful time getting us to accept 
a wine that their Mr. Morrow would rassl 

Oh really? [Laughter] 

Yes. I think we got a sherry from them finally, 
but it was fair, Just fair. Beaulieu had a very 
fine Cabernet. The sauternes that the Wentes 
bottled were good, and they had a little bottle 
of champagne that was bulk-process. So, A. P. said, 
"Go ahead." They got an engraved card, he [A. P.] 
and Mario included that they had personally 
inspected this wine, so it had to be good. 

To start with, I think we got out 6,000 
packages. We used the bank across from the Palace 
[Hotel]; the basement was quite empty at the time, 
and this took carloads of wine. We took big 
shipments. I got lots of help from the clerks who 
helped repack it, and Time magazine came out right 
after the convention reporting that "A. P. and L.M. 
Giannini stole the show with their personally 
selected boxes of wine." They told about the 
bankers leaving their hotels with a box of wine 
under their arm and the porter carrying their 
wife s mink coat. It was a fact. Time gave us a 
real good write-up on it. 

It then became so popular that everybody 
around the bank wanted a few packages, so I guess 
I got out another four or five thousand cases. It 
was getting along towards the fall then, and I was 
still getting out the wine. Everybody wanted wine 
and they knew that I could get good wines. 

There was a lot of poor wine around then, wasn t 

Oh, that was it. Carl said before he left for 
Reno, "Burke, take a hold of this wine deal and 
see what can be done." Now the Wentes have always 
put out good quality, and Beaulieu has put out a 
good quality of wine. Some of the others were 
sort of in a different class. 






Everyone was trying to get into the wine business, 
and the hard liquor people were looking at it as 
a t>lace to make money, and some of them got in and 
then out again. In the meantime we had put the 
prorate law through the legislature and it passed. 

How did you do it? Did it take a lot of politicking? 
No. It took some r>ower of institutions. 
You said it came from your idea? 

No, not the prorate idea. I had something to do 
with it because we had been doing the same thing 
with the Canners League. 

Whose idea was the prorate, do you think? Was it 
any one person s? 

I don t think it was a one-person deal. I tried 
to find out. The man who I recommended and whom 
we hired to run the brandy part of it he was with 
the Growers Grape Products Association... You see, 
there was the California Grape Prorate that 
organized the prorating, and there was the Growers 
Grape Products Association that handled the brandy 

Were they both set up by a legislative act? 

No, I don t know as they were at the time. I don t 
think it was. You see, the prorate idea was far 
wider than grapes and wines or brandy. Anyway, 
we got the law passed. That wasn t hard to do, 
because we had some sick industries. In most of 
them the conditions surrounding -production were 
quite standardized. If you got a good sentiment 
you could bring in the recalcitrants with a law. 
It took a law to do it, you see. 

In the Canners League operation it was a 
matter of the canners and processors putting up 
the money, and you always had recalcitrants. 
There were some times when a little group with the 
big guys had to p;o in and put the money up for 
someone who had sold out their production. Anyway, 


Critchfield: here we are with an industry now that s beginning 
to show a little life. There s some improvement 
in production, not too much. We get over well 
into the thirties, and quite a lot of new wineries 
started. In those days, one of their big problems 
(keep this in mind) was that they had to get a 
bond and submit a bond for their federal taxes. 
This eventually was abolished. They don t have 
to do that today. And that made it tough for the 
small ones. 






Was it a big bond? 
Quite a big bond. 

You were saying that the wineries at first had to 
put up a bond, and then they no longer did? 

In the early days, yes. A bond to protect the 
cost of the tax stamps. Now, I think, later on 
they were able to change that and pay their taxes 
as they sold the wine. I don t think it s a big 
factor now. 

I see. 

Now we get over into 3? and 38. We begin to 
accumulate a lot of wine, a considerable supply, 
and a lot of it of mediocre quality. Wine prices 
went down. The demand was not keeping pace with 
production and with supply. There is one point I 
should make right now: the wineries were looked 
upon as the dumping ground for the cull grapes. 

The cull table grapes, or the oversupply if 
there was an excess, or the raisin grapes that are 
not put on trays. Lots of this was used; lots of 
those grapes were used in those earlier days, and 
they didn t have to build up these surpluses. 
Today they are still used; they are still all right. 
Now we come up to the point of the spring of 38 
with a big crop on the vines, with the wineries 
quite full, and the wineries in general, especially 
those in the Lodi and Fresno areas, considering 
that they should make use of the prorate law and 
divert a substantial tonnage of grapes into brandy 
to hold it until it could be sold that way. Even 
if it didn t make anything, it would take it out 
of the supply... In those days there could be a 
tendency for a good crop [one year] and the next 






year a poor crop. So we figured (it was 38) we 
got a big crop coming on now, and if we can divert 
half a million tons to brandy, that way you d get 
rid of the table grape culls and the Thompson 
Seedless. The Thompson Seedless is what you found 
as the troublemaker, you see, 

Now, to the growers in this northern area 
this didn t sound good. 

Because their grapes were rood quality? 
Well, they were mostly of good quality. 
Why didn t they like it? 

Well, because their yield was so small. The price 
of table wines had gone down. They were eleven 
cents, twelve cents or even fifteen cents. Now 
the bank had quite a lot to do with this. These 
things we kept very close track of. That s a lot 
of years back. Well, we did a lot through our 
branch managers to try to quiet down these northern 
growers . 

I remember Mr. Lanza was one of those who objected, 
wasn t he?* 


Yes, he was, although they had an operation down 
in the San Joaquin Valley also. I ve forgotten 
whether we got "the prorate started before we got 
the money commitment, because it took a lot of 
money to divert half a million tons of grapes into 
brandy. Anyway, we supported it strongly. I held 
lots of meetings, especially in the bad areas. 
There were no problems in Lodi nor in San Joaquin, 
and not too much in the south, because they were 
making some brandy. But up here there were not 
many stills, you see. The Beringers** had a still 
and were making some brandy and selling some brandy, 
and one other outfit over in Sonoma County. You 
took your life in your hands when you came up here 
to hold a meeting of the growers. It was tough, 

*See Horace 0. Lanza, California Grape Products 
and Other Wine Enterprises, an interview completed 
in 1971 by the Regional Oral History Office. 

**Beringer Bros. 


Critchfield: but we had. certain key nen that we knew personally, 
Who were they? 





Critchfield i 

Well, there was Chapin Tubbs, who had the winery 
up at the head of this valley and whose beautiful 
home has since burned down. He was a member of 
the cordage family.* There was also Walter Fink, 
over at Cloverdale, and half a dozen other men 
over there. When we got into that stabilization 
of the movement, we used to buy their wines, or 
we used to have them make wine for C.C.W. 

Central California Wineries, that is? 

Yes. Now, in the meantime, the raisin people were 
faced with tremendous holdovers of inventories, 
and they were struggling for action. In Washington, 
two of my associates from the University of 
Minnesota were i^ery important men in handling 
those marketing programs, and I used to review my 
problems with them. They gave them a loan for 
raisins in 37, but in 38, that was a tough one. 
It looked as if everything was going by the board. 
But the industry met the grape growers and the 
wineries and the raisin people, at the Palace Hotel 
for two or three days. 

Was Mr. A. Setrakian involved in this, "Socks" 

He undoubtedly talked loud and long, but I don t 
think that he was a big factor in it. I m not 
sure whether he opposed it or not. But if he did, 
in those days we were able to move regardless of 
what Socks wanted to do. Have you interviewed 
him yet? 

I ve talked to him. I m going to interview hin. 

Well, they met there and came to us for financing. 
They had sent a committee to Washington, and Henry 
Wallace was opposed to loaning money to the wine 
industry, so they had to come back. 

*Tubbs Cordage Co. , San Francisco. 








He didn t believe in drinking, did he? 

No, Henry didn t. He probably did before he died; 
he might have changed his mind; a lot of people 
did. The Mormons are a good example. Lots of 
good Mormon people that never drank wine or had 
anything to do with liquor changed their minds. 
So the wine people met, and this prorate was 
right in the midst of this. So we said, "If you 
will put on a drive and get the prorate and get the 
Institute going... 

The Wine Institute? 

Yes. We had to virtually go out and knock over 
some of those Italian wineries. If I couldn t do 
it, I d ask A. P. and he d call the manager himself 
and tell him. When we did that we d get them. 
When A. P. would say something. 

I never heard that A. P. Giannini played a part in 
the Wine Institute. 

Oh, to be sure, and every move we made he was 
sitting in on the sidelines. So we said, "If 
you ll set up a substantial advertising program 
and do these various things, we will ask Jesse 
Jones* to participate with us in a loan for the 
conversion of half a million tons of grapes prorated 
by the growers, and we ll carry the heavy load of 
financing it." The R.F.C. were only in a part of 
these deals. Well, they had quite a lot of long 
sessions there which I sat in on, of course. 

Who were "they," the R.F.C. ? 

No, the industry the wineries, the leading growers, 
the raisin people. Now, people like the Wentes 
weren t interested particularly in the prorate. 
They rode along. 

I had forgotten. Did you hear anybody talk 
about prorate certificates? 


^Chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, 








I think in this northern area that they did let 
them buy some certificates, some tonnage down in 
the valleys and substitute it. 

What do you mean? Will you explain that? 

Suppose you ve got a hundred tons and you re 
willing to be prorated at 37 per cent. Your 37 
tons could buy a certificate from somebody for 
the proper tonnage so that you could crush your 
total grape tonnage. The man that I selected and 
put in to run this prorate lives here in St. 
Helena, Andy Prericks,* but Andy told me this 
morning that he couldn t remember. He can t 
remember how many tons were crushed. He was a 
wine chemist. 

And he was in charge of ... 

The brandy. He worked for the Growers Grape 
Products Association. Now, the figures on all of 
these things are in the State Department of 
Agriculture or the [Wine] Institute. 

Let me ask you a question in relation to these 
certificates that you speak of. Someone mentioned 
the fact that some winemakers can get more wine 
out of a given quantity of grapes, so that there 
was some variation, and that somewhere in this, 
Earl Warren, who was then Attorney General of 
California, stepped in as Attorney General and 
gummed up something. Do you remember this? Did 
he interfere in any way with the prorate? 

Well, I asked Andy how many suits were filed 
against the prorate, mainly in this northern 
country in these three counties Napa, Sonoma, and 
Mendocino and he said over forty suits as he 
remembers. I think the lawyer is now dead, Bill 
Voechel of Agnew and Voechel. They were attorneys 
for R.P.C. among other things. Well, I was 
constantly talking to A. P. at that time. In the 
summers he used to go down and stay a couple of 
months In L.A. at the Biltmore, and I would talk 
to him sometimes every night as to how things were 
getting along, so he would talk to Jesse Jones. 
You know who Jesse Jones was? 

Chairman of the R.F.C., wasn t he? 

* Andrew G. Prericks 


Critchfield: Yes, that s right. And he*d opened this subject 
up, see. Of course they left it up to us to name 
the conditions, and then A. P. approved it. So it 
looked as if we were going to hatch out an egg; 
it looked as if they were going to meet our 
conditions, which was a substantial advertising 
program set up so that it would continue, which 
they have done, to get the prorate vote over, to 
get the vintners all in the Institute, and we 
helped them do it. When they finally voted on it 
unanimously or practically unanimously, I had a 
plane reservation waiting for me and I flew down 
to L.A. that evening. They insisted on a couple 
men going down with me. They were not vintners 
either; they were growers, one Fresno district and 
one Lodi. 

Teiser: Who were they? 

Critchfield: Did you ever hear of the name Lescher? 

Teiser: Yes. 


[Edwin] Lescher and somebody else. They insisted 
on somebody going along. So A. P. knew I was coming, 
and when I got down I called his room and I went 
right up. And he said, "Give me this picture 
again, because then I m going to call Jesse. Jesse s 
going to be available to me to call him." This was 
early evening, you see. I don t think I spent over 
fifteen minutes with him. If you couldn t tell 
A. P. what you had in mind in say, five or ten 
minutes, he figured you hadn t got your lesson 
learned very well. 

So he said, "I ve got a reservation for you 
on that plane and a taxi waiting downstairs to 
take you out to the airport and go right back, 
because you ve got to be at the bank at seven 
o clock in the morning, and the general finance 
committee is going to have to pass a resolution on 
this which will have to go over to R.F.C. " 

In the meantime Jesse Jones was waiting in 
Washington for it to go through. It was just a 
question of making the gestures, which you had to 
do. So I came down to these guys and said, "Fellows, 
we ve got a taxi waiting to take us to the airport. 
We re going back. I ve got A.P. s telegram 



[directions]." Jesse Jones had his board together. 
And so we put that over, the stabilization program. 






At that time the Bank of America was financing all 
except a few wineries that needed financing. One 
of them was the Gallo boys* that had been more or 
less kicked out of the Bank of America. They had 
good security besides their wine business, but 
(I ll give you a little gossip) we had a vice 
^resident there who was the vice chairman of the 
loan committee of the credit department of the bank 
who was a partner in the Italian Swiss Colony. 
There were the two Rossi boys,** [A.E.] Sbarboro, 
and. the man that died up there who lived near the 
winery and was an active member up there, [Enrico] 
Prati. Now Prati was a great help to me in working 
out these various programs. He was excellent. I d 
go up and spend a Sunday with him. But the Rossi 
boys and Sbarboro kept thinking of a California 
V/ine Association. Do you remember how the business 
was run here before Prohibition? The California 
Wine Association was the big factor. 

Yes. Sbarboro s father had started Italian Swiss 
Colony, hadn t he? 

That s right. He and I think the father of the 

P.C. Rossi, I believe. 

Yes. Well, he was critical of my endeavors to 
keep the little wineries alive. And when I finally 
had my showdown with him, I licked him. And if I 
had stayed there we might not have been a lot of 
this great consolidation. We d still have kept a 
lot of small wineries alive. 

Where did the Gallo boys stand in all of this? 

Well, they had lots of Bank of America stock, as 
I remember, Transamerica was what they held in 
those days, and used in getting finance from year 
to year for their wine business. 

*Ernest and Julio Gallo 
**Edmund A. and Robert D. Rossi 












Why, Sbarboro was sitting there and took the 
position, "Well, these people are just newcomers 
in the business; why, we won t finance them." 

Oh. He was thinking in terms of a monopoly in 
effect, like the California Wine Association had 

Yes, a California Wine Association monopoly. 
There was a time there when Mario was sick, A. P. 
was away, and a resolution was passed and I was 
advised that I couldn t go out and leave the city 
on any kind of work without approval of the general 
finance committee. You know what that did for me. 
Of course I ll tell you then that the next chapter 
is that stabilization movement that I developed. 

Let me go back. I keep interrupting you when 
you re about to talk about the Gallos. They owned 
Transamerica stock at that time? 

They had a good background, and I know the man 
that advised them to go over to Capital National. 
That was run by ex-Lieutenant Governor Alden 
Anderson. That was his bank in Sacramento. And 
the man that sent the Gallo boys over there, or 
sent Ernie over, was a good personal friend of 

Sbarboro was the one who blocked their Bank of 
America connection? 

Well, he s still alive, you see. He s 93 years 
old and still on the board of the bank. The 
Sbarboros had a lot of land in Marin County, very 
valuable land up there. 

Now you can get the figures on the prorate. 

Let me ask you another thing about it. You said 
that brandy was set aside, but wasn t there also 
neutral spirits made? 

You mean high-proof. Oh, they made some of it in 
high-proof, but not much. It was mostly made into 
potable brandy. 

You said that you asked Mr. Prati s help and got 




Yes. There was in this table wine business quite 
a lot of support, but there were also forty or 
fifty suits filed, and Voechel handled those, 
Andy told ne. But they didn t sustain themselves. 
The law was in pretty good shape. Well, then we 
put it into operation, expecting to have almost 
half a million tons. As I remember the figures, 
we crushed for brandy and put into the brandy pool 
about 387,000 tons, not expecting to get any return 
from the growers, or at least a very minimum of a 
few dollars. But it paid out very near twenty 
dollars a ton to them, which was a lot of money 
to the growers in those days, because we were on 
a different price level then, you know. 

Well, we thought that would stabilize the 
business for that year and for several years by 
taking that loan of raw material out of the way, 
you see. We got a pretty good price for the rest 
of their grapes that they were selling to the 
wineries, or making wine and selling wine in co-ops. 
The co-op movement was just underway and in pretty 
good shape. Well, they fertilized and took good 
care of their vineyards and got a big tonnage. 
And the next year we had a crop that was tremendous. 
And as the marketing season approached, we realized 
that it was going to be a debacle, a much worse 
debacle than the year before. I mean we at the 
bank, those of us who were close to it. 

The Gianninis were very much Interested in 
these industry moves. It was easier to get a ten 
million dollar loan or financing arranged than it 
was to borrow for a taxi fare. As the season began 
to get on towards where they were shipping plenty 
of table grapes, it was apparent that we were going 
to have an awful crop of wine grapes and a lot of 
raisin Thompsons dumped into the industry. We 
measured that by the fact that the wineries started 
to go into bankruptcy or to be close to it. The 
Security First National of Los Angeles had one 
account up in Tulare they had the Giannini winery* 
there, a big operation. It was too bad Russell 
died, who was attorney for them and an officer of 
the winery, and I put him in as president of the 

Who was he? 

*The Tulare Winery Company. See p. 



Critchfield i 

Calvin Russell. He died a few years after that. 
But he would have been a great source of information 
for you on the stabilization moves and the problems 
of the winery. They [the Giannini winery] were 
notified just before the crush started that the 
bank would not finance them any longer with a 
winery that was making several million gallons of 
wine a year. 

Was this Prank Giannini *s* winery? 

Yes, Frank s. Did you ever meet Lagomarsino, the 
son-in-law who was running the farms? They sold 
the winery eventually, but he runs the farms. 

The bank told him it was pulling out? 

I got a call from Calvin Russell and old Prank and 
Fred Lagomarsino who were together from down there. 
They were crying. The bank adjuster from Fresno 
had been down to give them this bad news, and it 
was Just like a funeral. They were Italians, but 
they were not Catholic Italians. Prank Giannini 
was an Italian Mason, and. he was a little stout, 
fussy little rcuy, had built up quite an institution, 
and the old man, A. P., didn t have any time for 
him. So that would have been a handicap to have 
got them in. But they called me and told me what 
had happened and said, "Can you come down?" [It 
was] Saturday afternoon, and I got a plane to 
Fresno and went down, knowing what I was going to 
be asked to do. 

We had a manager there at Fresno who had been 
with us a heck of a long time, his name was Ralph 
[S.] Heaton, and I said to them, "You go in to 
Heaton, but don t tell him that I suggested it or 
that you even spoke to me about it. Throw yourself 
on his shoulder and. make him the big guy, and I ll 
grease the way as much as I can at head office." 
We worked out a financing arrangement for them. 

Did you hear of Louis Cribari s work? The 
Cribaris of San Jose? Well, the chairman of the 
general finance committee of the bank during those 
years I was there was this former banker from San 

*This family was not related to the A. P. Giannini 




Jose. Something had happened and he didn t like 
the Cribaris and kicked them out. They were old- 
time friends of the Gianninis. So when we were 
in New York once, we went over to their winery to 
a little affair. He [A. P.] thought a great deal 
of Angelo [Cribari], who was in New York. They 
had a big New York distribution. 

They had a storage depot there? 

Yes, and a big distribution out of New York. And 
the smartest brother was there. But they were all 
smart enough. Well, A. P. found out that they 
were not in the bank. Angelo told him and said 
that he and [William E.] Blauer had had a set-to, 
a disagreement, and he was over in the other bank. 
So A. P. informed ine a week or two later when he 
found this out and sent me word, he said, "You 
get ahold, of Prank Mitchell" (who was our San Jose 
top vice president and more or less the dean of 
the Bank of America managers within fifty miles or 
so) "and get that Cribari account back in the bank." 
Of course Frank told me what had happened and he 
said, "If that s the orders from the old man, let s 
just get out and do it." 

So we went to work and analyzed the assets 
and what we needed to safeguard a loan from them 
and to finance them and got ready and brought it 
in and presented it to the general finance 
committee, that had to pass on those big credits 
at that tine. The committee still does to some 
extent. We were not received with open arms but 
with growls. We didn t tell them any background 
because we didn t want to show our hand. If we 
had said to Mr. Blauer that this was A.P. s order 
that the account was to come back, I 
been treated worse than I was, see. 
boy always at starting these deals, 
they just wouldn t listen to it. 

would have 
I was a bad 
But of course 

He [Blauer] said, "I m being insulted. I 
ought to know whether that account was worthwhile 
or not." So we didn t tell him why we were there 
with it, but I sent word to our vice president in 
New York who was very close to A. P. and the family 
and told him what had happened. The phones got 
busy and before long we got a request to come back 
in with this account, and vie took it on aptain. Mow 



that was one of the things. You have to say this: 
during those years the Bank of America was just an 
institution, you see, it wasn t a well-organized, 
smooth-running deal. Today it is very smooth 
running. But the Gianninis were wonderful to work 
with, except that when anything happened and they 
went away you got nailed to the cross. 















What more would you want to know about the prorate? 
It worked, is that right? 

It worked in very good shape, and it did a fine, 
wonderful Job. It would have been a debacle in a 
hundred communities of California, and the 
Gianninis recognized it. We put up the money, of 
course, underwritten up to maybe 50 per cent by 
R.P.C. And Mr. Jones would come out every summer 
and A. P. would get me to tell him the status of it. 
This was when it was working and the brandy pool 
was developing. 

It was only formally on for one year, was it, 
19 38- 39? 

That was all, Just the one season. 

But you had to watch the brandy afterward? 

Yes. I made the deals for the barrels and the 

Do I remember that much of that brandy went to 
the Christian Brothers? 

No. A considerable amount was sold to Schenley. 

What did they use it for? 

They sold it under their label. 

For brandy, not for blending? 

Yes. It helped a little. And then some of the 
wineries bought their own brandy, like Community 








bought theirs. Another lot was Serramonte; that 
was East Side Growers,* the big co-op there. We 
bought Serramonte by the case; that was one of 
the best brandies. You see, this friend of mine 
knew his brandies and was a good chemist. 

Who was he? 

Andrew G. Prericks. He was manager of Growers 
Grape Products Association. He lives up here now; 
he s losing his sight a little, and he s not as 
old as I am but he s beginning to show his age a 

Was Mr. Walter Taylor of Fruit Industries involved 
in the prorate? 

Walter was involved in the prorate; Walter was not 
too enthusiastic, but they cooperated. You see, 
they had as members, supporting wineries. Community** 
was the one we took away from the bank of Co-ops. 
That was their biggest operation. And then they 
had Perelli-Minetti*** down in Kern County, and they 
had a winery there at Fresno; they had one over 
here at Fulton, the Fulton Co-op, and they had the 
big Guastl plant in southern California. 

They had big inventories too, and they 
wanted anything that could be done to help them. 
Here we were then, with a good operation. We felt 
proud of what we had done at the bank even if we 
had to knock a few men on the knuckles hard. I 
can remember these northern fellows coming down 
not this county, but the Mendocino group and 
Sonoma group grape growers with winery connections, 
and pleading to get the bank to reverse its 
position. Of course they didn t get anywhere 
because the bank was more interested in the 
stabilization move than they were in their Dleas. 

Then after that was completed you set up Central 
California Wineries, as that right? 

Yes, in August a year later, August of 1939- The 
wineries during the two or three months preceding 
were trying to get their bonds renewed and having 
to put in their homes and everything else to 
underwrite, and no assurance from the bank of 
financing to a reasonable extent. Suddenly I 

*East Side Winery 
**Community Grape Corporation. 

pp. viii-x. 
***A. Perelli-Minetti & Sons 

See Interview History, 


Grltchf ield : 


found, out that a commitment had been made to 
Bisceglia Brothers for picking charges, which 
were about four dollars a ton. They had submitted 
an idea to the bank of making that advance and 
then agreeing that out of the proceeds of the 
sale of the wine they would contribute to the 
grower what they could afford to pay him. He 
still had a residuary interest in it, with that 
type of operators. They had gone through bank 
ruptcy. They owned Grey stone [winery], and that 
was their northern operation. They had a plant 
at San Jose there which had gotten in bad shape; 
: don t know whether that burned down. They had 
leased a plant down east of Fresno and moved down 
there, and this commitment was made. Louis 
Martini was buying some grapes at six dollars; it 
looked as if that might be the price six dollars 
a ton. And Roma, John Cella,* were offering about 
six dollars and getting some grapes. That made a 
debacle in a hundred communities in California. 

This was when Louis Martini was still in Kingsburg? 

Yes. We didn t buy that [the L.M. Martini Winery 
at Kingsburg] for a couple years after that though. 
Tulare Winery [of Frank Giannini] hadn t been 
thrown out of Security First National yet, but 
they were worried. They were thrown out two or 
three weeks later. 

So Giannini and Russell and Fred Lagomarsino 
used to come up once a week or so and call me and 
tell me they were coming the next morning, and to 
meet them for breakfast at the Sutter Hotel or 
somewhere. We were working on various plans. I 
had been trying to solve this, to figure what 
could we do with an industry that was so sick that 
4-0 per cent of it was pretty near in a bankrupt 
stage at that time. When this was happening, your 
left hand didn t know what your right hand was 
doing or vice-versa. So I had this plan of 
operation pretty well in my mind by that time. I 
wasn t being allowed to talk to winery groups as 
a whole. They had me muzzled by this time. So 
Frericks called me one day and said, "The group have 
gone home. They ve had a meeting and they ve given 
up many ideas of what to do." Everybody was trying 
to figure out plans of stabilization. 

*John Battista Cella 




Was this a formal group or Just a bunch of people 
who sot together? 

Well, this was growers, I think. This was the 
same group that were running the Growers Grape 
Products Association, that owned a doubtful 
residual in the brandy. Well, he said, "They ve 
had their last meeting, and they ve decided that 
there s nothing that can be done. They ve just 
got to let the tail go with the hide." 

So I said, "Well, all right Andy, let s you 
and I have lunch together and I ll give you my 
ideas now. " Andy and I used to lunch together 
quite a little because I wanted to know the moves 
that were being made. So we went over to a 
Chinese restaurant I d give a lot of money if we 
had that tablecloth that I diagrammed this program 
on, because we drew it up that way. There were 
a whole lot of questions as to what you could do 
legally. So I laid out the program as a legal 
entity, but instead of a group of Individual 
growers trying to be developed, a non-profit 
cooperative of processors, part of which were 
co-ops or individuals like the Giannlnis crushing 
their own grapes. The market for wine was very 
low. For the fortified wines it was around 22 to 
2^ cents. Most of them were our customers at the 
bank. And the dry wines were from 11 to 15 cents. 

Now, a non-profit cooperative of institutions, 
of processors, many of them grower processors. In 
the meantime, the raisin people were trying to get 
a loan from the government, and they were turned 
down because there was such chaos in the industry. 
They hadn t started then, I don t believe, to put 
the grapes on trays, but they knew that if nothing 
was done with the wine business what with the 
prospects were, that there would be a great over- 
supply of raisins, and the government didn t want 
to be involved in another long-time loan. They d 
gone through it, you know, a romance, a long series 
of projects in the raisin business, including some 
shooting too, if you go back and look up the 

Well, I went down [to Tulare] on a weekend 
and the Gianninis, Frank, and Gal Russell and Fred 
met me, and on Sunday I laid this plan out to them. 






Andy agreed with me that it was workable and in 
his opinion was legal and would not get us into 
a suit with the government. Now it was hinged to 
an agreement with the bank that they would finance 
it. The cooperative, the C.C.W., was to purchase 
the wine knowing that there would be a lot of 
wineries flocking into it; purchase the wine 
outright take title to the wine and we would 
give them a carrying charge sufficient to keep 
their wineries so that they would be taking proper 
care of the wine during such processing on it as 
our production manager would indicate necessary. 

Each winery would store its own wine? 

Each would store its own wine to the extent that 
they could. 

Who was your processing manager? 

We took on Allen Dunning, who was at that time 
running the big winery for Di Giorgio. Now, C.C.W. 
would buy the grapes from the growers and pay them 
cash and make new wine to the extent that grapes 
were available and that storage was available. 
That was one of the reasons we bought the Martini 
winery the next year. And C.C.W. would not be a 
Fruit Industries selling organization but would 
sell at wholesale to the large wineries that were 
outside that were financible [financially sound] 
enough, that had merchandising outfits and that 
were good merchandisers. 

Like what? 

Like Roma, Italian Swiss. 

Did you sell any to Gallo? 

No, Gallo wasn t operating big enough then. If it 
had been now and Gallo was operating as it is, he 
could have taken all of it. He s a good operator,* 
a fine operator. I don t know as we offered Gallo 
an opportunity to sign a marketing contract with 

In the meantime, we had key growers in almost 
every community that had a lot of grapes, where 
they sold them, pass the word around that there was 
a big deal developing with the bank behind it. And 

*Ernest Gallo 



they were the kind of men who told their friends 
that, and it spread, and we stopped the selling 
of grapes, which was essential to this move. We 
went to work. There was a good attorney there in 
Fresno who since has died, Mount [K.] Wild. And 
Calvin Russell and I talked Mount into Joining us 
in the preparation of the documentation. The 
documentation was a very difficult one, you see, 
to get these thoughts and the whole structure as 
I had laid it out. And we worked night and day 
there for three weeks or so and developed the 
documentation. We tried out the marketing 
contract on such fellows as Rossi and a few others, 



Now by this time I had the complete confidence and 
backing of the Gianninis [the Prank Giannini group]. 
I had been down to Fresno and. Tulare once, but this 
man [Ralph S.] Heaton didn t like me. I was messing 
with his wine business. He always had some new 
idea which was no good. A lot of people you admire 
for certain reasons, but you know that consistently 
they re not thinking soundly, not thinking through 
what s legal what can legally be done and what 
can t be done.... Well, I got back on Monday 
morning and was walking into the bank where we hung 
up our coats, and Mr. Sbarboro said, "You re trying 
to save the wine business again, are you?" 

Well, I said, "Why?" 

"Why," he said, "you were down in Fresno this 
weekend." Then I knew that Heaton had called him. 

He said, "I thought we told you you couldn t 
manipulate things like that." 

I said, "Mr. Sbarboro, I m going to tell you 
once, and this will be the last time I ll probably 
ever speak to you: I am being paid for what I was 
hired to do here at this bank, and I m not going 
to listen to what you tell me that I can or can t 
do. I m going up to get my personal papers out of 
my file and put my coat on and walk out of here." 




I went back to my desk, which was a ways back 
of his, got my papers out, called my girl down and 
asked her to bring my files down, the papers that 
I wanted. And I took my personal papers and walked 

Then I went over to California Lands, 
remember who they were? 


Do you 

This was the strategic move that I made, you see. 
California Lands was a corporation in which title 
to all the farmland that Bank of America would take 
in would be placed, and they would manage them 
until they sold them. The bank had another one, 
Capital Company, that took their urban properties 
that they took in. 

Well, Ed [E.D.] Woodruff, the president of 
this corporation, was a good friend of mine, and 
I told him, "Ed, I m finally leaving the bank. I ve 
put up with all of these disturbing and unsatisfactory 
conditions over there to which I ve been subjected 
for quite a while, and I m going to leave now and 
I thought I d tell you why." They had about forty 
or fifty thousand tons of grapes coming in. They 
generally sold to Roma; that was to Cella, who was 
quite a close friend of the Gianninis over a period 
of years, big customers of the bank, and they got 
a good price there. 

California Lands held the grapes? 

Yes; they were on the vines. They hadn t entered 
any negotiations or contracts. Now, you see, we 
were very careful. We hadn t announced anything 
yet; we hadn t done any sleuthing around yet. So 
he said, "You can t do it Burke. You gotta stay 
here. We re in a bad spot here with the tonnage 
we ve got." 

I said, "I went down there on my own expense 
on a weekend" (they didn t pay me for my [travel 
or overtime] time), "and I ve been down there a 
couple times lately, and I ve got half a dozen of 
those sick wineries that are willing to go along 
and be the nucleus of a stabilization move that I 
have worked out with them that has the possibilities 



Critchfield : 



of stabilizing this deal and putting it on its 
feet. It would form a holding pool, but it 
wouldn t hold wine off the market." The marketing 
contracts that we had with what we called the "Big 
Five" stated that they agreed to take a certain 
percentage of that wine. 

The Big Five were these large companies? 
Yes. Roma, Italian Swiss, Petri... 
Crest a Blanca? 

No. We never got Cresta Blanca to move ir. with 
us. They always played a lone hand. They had 
not been sold then yet to the firm that bought 
them- -Hiram Walker or Schenley. 

So you had Roma, Italian Swiss, Petri and two 

We didn t do any business with Fruit Industries. 
There was a winery down south, Padre, run by Yai. 
You never met Jimmy Vai before he died, did you? 


He was a charming nan. He was one of those easy 
going Italians that made money in spite of his 
habits of spending. Well, we documented this, and 
in the meantime we promoted it by word, of mouth; 
no publicity. We got up to the point where those 
who were interested in getting a home [for their 
grapes] because they wouldn t have to put up any 
money for taxes, for bonds, or anything.... 

Let me go back to my leaving the bank and 
going over to California Lands. I talked, to Ed 
Woodruff there for probably two or three hours. 
He said, "You ve got to go back there and talk to 
somebody. Go back and talk to Mario." 

I said, "The orders around the bank are that 
unless it s high rating business you re not to 
disturb L.M. He s recovering from his hospitaliza- 
tion." He was in and out of the hospitals a good 

"Well," he said, "talk to A.?, himself." 

Gritchfield: "No," I said, "I m not going to talk to A. P. 
because I don t want to weaken my position with 
him. I ve never had him turn me down on any 
proposition that I ve put up to him, and I don t 
want to go in with a little matter like this." 

"Well," he said, "who can you talk to?" I 
said, "Well, I ll talk to his wife s nephew, 
Renolds Barbieri." A very fine fellow, who had 
their ear. 

Well, I went on back to the bank after Ed 
and I went out and got a little lunch. And I 
said, "Well, I ll go back and try." 

He said, "This is serious enough now. I m 
asking you as a personal favor. Go back over 
there. You ve got to go to the top of the bank 
on this." 

So I went back, and we were on the top floor, 
and as I got off the elevator L.M. was standing 
with his hat on and his coat, going out to lunch. 
It was probably two o clock. 

He said, "Burke, how are you? I d like to 
have a good long talk with you about this grape 
deal. It s in bad shape, and we realize it." 

"Well," I said, "I d like to have a good talk 
with you, too, about it." And he said, "I ll be 
back in twenty minutes or so from my lunch. I ll 
just go downstairs here." 

So he came back, and I said, "I d like to talk 
to you and your father. This deal is in the worst 
shape it s ever been since I ve been over here, 
and you should know it, you should realize it, you 
should be aware of the fact." So when he came 
back after lunch he called his father, and we 
went into his office. He was the only one that 
used a private office, and so we went into his 
little office. 

I said, "Well, I m going to talk to you from 
the standpoint, not as an employee. I picked up 
my papers this morning, and as I have a considerable 
number of shares of stock, and I m going to talk 
to you as someone who has an interest in the 





business. Some of the things I m going to say 
you re not going to like. You ll have to sit there 
and take it if you want to know." 

Of course they first wanted to know what was 
the prospect of the brandy pool. I told them, "It 
has a possible salvage value of a few dollars, but 
not very much. The wine business is in such shape 
that there s going to be a lot of brandy made, you 
see, and it s going to be competitive, and there 
won t be very much money in it." I said, "Well, 
to start out, I might Just as well tell you one 
thing about what the people think. So many people 
in this state think that you folks have a personal 
interest in the wine business, that you re part of 
Petri Cigar Company* and Roma Wine, because you have 
extended a great deal of credit to them and they 
have grown up." The old man swore like a trooper. 

"We don t have a damn side interest or any other 

interest, except the customers!" Well, we got that 
all settled. 

"Now," I said, "I ve reached the point here 
where I ve been trying to work out a program, but 
the conditions around here are such that I can t 
get any help. There s nobody I can talk to that 
has a friendly, constructive attitude." And. I said, 
"You re facing a debacle. There s a lot of these 
wineries that are sitting there without any firm 
commitment from the bank except such outfits as 
Martini and Roma Wine or Petri s, who can undoubtedly 
borrow on their own. So," I said, "you ve got a 
hundred communities here in California that are 
going to be sick, because six dollars a ton won t 
give them anything. The three dollars and a half 
advance for picking doesn t mean anything to them. 
You re going to have a lot of bankruptcies on your 
hands . " 

Then L.M. said, "What do you think can be done, 
Burke?" I outlined my plan to him, and he said, 
"I ll go along with you on that. Have you got it 
written up?" Now, this is during a conversation 
that lasted from about 2:30 or quarter to three 
until it was around seven o clock. 

My word! 

I could Just imagine that Mr. Sbnrboro was figuring 
that I was lashing at him. I never mentioned his 

*The Petri Wine Company was for many years a 
subsidiary of the Petri Cigar Company. 




name, never. After we got that operation underway 
I used to come up. I almost lived at Fresno, you 
see, in the hotel there. I d come up and so to 
dinner with Mario and tell him, but he d call me 
every day. He called ne every day from the bank. 
They were vitally interested in this program. 
So A. P. said, "Burke, I don t know as I d waste 
my time on them. They re just a bunch of boot 
leggers." That was his viewpoint on the wineries 
in general, except the Wentes. He knew they were 
doing a good job. He knew that we did a wonderful 
job when we put those wine packages out. 

Well, some of the people in the industry had a 
noor reputation. 

Critchfield: Yes, there were ex-bootleggers. 








Well, we got a good sign-up on that. We got about 
*K) per cent. 

Of what? 

Of the wine in California. 

Did the Bank of America then lend you to this 
organization, in effect? How did it work? 

They loaned me to the industry to run this business, 
still as a vice president of the bank, active in 
the bank, keeping my desk and secretary. 

But you were general manager of Central California 

Critchfield: That s right. 







I have a list of the winery members here.* 

Let s see Acampo, Alta, Bisceglia. Now, 
Bisceglias had been bankrupt when they couldn t 
get this three dollars and a half a ton [that had 
earlier been tentatively agreed upon]. They with 
drew that right away. 

You mean the bank withdrew the three dollars and 
fifty cents? 

Yes. Then, of course, Bisceglias were instructed 
to hunt me ur> and join this program. And they 
said, "What are we going to do for money for 
operating?" You know, to start a plant and get it 
ready. I said to Mario, "What are we going to do 
with Bisceglias for money?" He said, "You folks 
haven t got any money yet, but take care of them," 
(to me). So I loaned them two or three thousand 
dollars of my personal funds, knowing that he was 
in back of me, and. got them started in Central 
Winery that was where our operation was. 

Central Winery was your headquarters? 

Yes. And we had this law firm who were next door 
to us. And right there where we discounted our 
paper we could start drawing all the money we 
wanted. Now, there are a few thing I must tell 


Let s see... [looking at list of C.C.W. 

members]** DaRoza... Sierra Vista that was one 

*Acanpo Winery & Distilleries, Acampo; Alta Winery 
Winery & Distillery, Dinuba; Bisceglia Bros. Wine 
Co. , Fresno and Reedley; Central Winery, Fresno, 
Kings burg and St. Helena; Colonial Grape Products 
Company of California, Elk Grove; Crest View 
Winery, Fresno; Da Roza Winery, Lodi; Di Giorgio 
Fruit Corporation, San Francisco and Delano; 
Franzia Bros. Winery, Ripon; J. Fraslnetti & Son, 
Florin; Fresno Winery, Fresno and Clovis; Italian 
Vineyard Company, Los Angeles and Guasti; E 
Morello, Kerman; Mount Tivy Winery, Fresno; F. 
Pirrone & Sons Winery, Salida; St. George Winery, 
Fresno; San Joaquin Winery & Distillery, Fresno; 
Tulare Winery Company, Tulare; Village Winery, 

**See Appendix III. 






of Di Giorgio s plants I think. We had to whip 
some of these boys into the project; Franzia was 
one of them. They didn t sell at low prices 
because they needed money, necessarily. They had 
their lands, a good big vineyard, and a winery 
was a new deal. Now, the Italian Vineyard Company, 
I think, bought some wine from us, the Guasti 
nlant there. Mount Tivy. Pirrone. 

Mount Tivy was Lucius Powers ? 

No. Mount Tivy was Fred Vieth. Fred Vieth was 
an accountant who was made president of that firm. 
I think at one time the Powers were in it, but by 
that time they had no voice in it. This was quite 
a group. 

I should say so. 

The Acampo [Winery] was the Mondavis. Mondavi* was 
one of the head men in Acampo. He was one of the 
active members, he and a man, Barengo, who was a 
distributor at Reno. 

I think Dino Barengo now heads that winery. 

I think they bought out the rest of the fellows. 
We held them up by their shirttails, see; we held 
them up by the seat of their pants. They couldn t 
have operated at times there without that operation 
underway. Well, we got the deal going and financed 
it as I told you. The bank did all the financing. 
But we had the little Farmers and Merchants Bank 
at Lodi take a small part of it. And we tried to 
get Security in, but they dumped Tulare [Wine 
Company], so they were Bank of America customers. 

We established a fifteen dollar price for 
grapes and made everybody pay it, and pay cash. Up 
to that time they would buy their grapes and give 
them an advance for picking and say, "Well, we 
can t give you any more now. We have to sell some 
wine." And so forth. It was a sick industry. 
And this was a stabilizer, because we put the 
financing into it we ll say controlled financing 
so we knew that the money we paid them under this 
contract was going where we expected it. We paid 
off their loans at the bank on money we borrowed 
from the bank, see; we paid off their loans so that 

*Cesare Mondavi 





they didn t owe the bank anything. Their statements 
looked much better. But they had no wine, nothing 
to sell. 

Now, it wasn t long before some of the smaller 
wineries up around Lodi started to dump through 
brokers. There were three wineries there Mokelumne 
and a number of small wineries. Mario and I talked 
this over every day, you see. He knew all of the 
operations. And I told him what was happening, and 
he said, "What do you want to do?" I said, "I want 
to go up there and buy their wine." He said, "Go 
ahead and draw on us. Draw on head office for the 
money." So I didn t ask the directors of C.G.W. 
if it was all right, because if I did. the word 
would get out before you knew it. So I went up 
there and got ahold of those people and bought their 
wine at the price they were offering it out, in the 
lower twenties, and took all of it under control. 
We didn t have to worry about moving it right away, 
because I think at that time... We did eventually 
move some of it to Martini s and sold some directly 
from those wineries. 

The word got into the paper, then, did it? 

Sure, it got into the paper. Then we came up here 
and bought up the wine of those wineries that I 
started to tell you about. Some of the names have 
got away from me. It was table wines over in 
Sonoma and here, and Chapln Tubbs wine in this 
valley and the Tubbs output and four wineries 
output. Eventually, see, we knew we would have to 
have a place to put it. So the bank had repossessed 
Greys tone from the Bisceglias when they closed them 

The Bisceglias were closed out? 

Oh, yes. They were closed out before they went 
to Fresno. And when I financed them down there 
they were closed out. They had some equipment, but 
not much. They built; they bounded back pretty 
fast, because you couldn t tell with some of those 
Italians whether they had a sock full of money put 
away somewhere even if they went bankrupt. 

They built a big plant down there. I don t 
know how they ve done lately. The first generation 
died, and then they got down to one man, Alphonse 




down there, and three or four nephews. And then 
Alphonse died and the nephews ran the plant. They 
went into a non-alcoholic wine, or grape Juice 
business, remember? They did it and lost their 
shirt. I think any of those deals where you re 
taking a grape juice of that type, that was potable, 
it was hard to sterilize it enough to avoid some 

Now, as the next season came on, one winery 
was sold out from that group. We had a penalty 
clause. We had a provision that if they sold out 
they lost any interest in the assets, and they 
could get their wine back by paying their loan and 
a certain amount to cover the general organization 
expenses of getting it started and underway. Along 
came a man from Chicago with a letter from one of 
the Roosevelts addressed to A. P., but he was away 
somewhere and not available, and Mario was in the 
hospital, so I got word. When he got sick I was 
supposed to see Russell Smith. Russell Smith was 
directed to do what Mario would have done, see, and 
to keep the wolves off my back. This man came with 
a letter. This was after we had operated and 
bought the Martini plant and the Greystone.* 

How did Martini happen to sell his plant to you? 

Martini had a small operation up here [in the Napa 
Valley] , and he had a couple of partners in San 
Francisco, Sinsheimer. Did you ever hear of the 
Sintons or the Sinsheimers? They were big bean 

Anyway, I think they wanted to get their money 
out, and Louis wanted to get up here. Our whole 
group didn t look upon that as too good a deal, 
see, but Di Giorgio*** was the fly in the ointment 
there. He was for taking over the brandy from the 
Grape Products Company, that C.C.W. take over the 
entire brandy pool. 

*Both were bought in 1940. 

**Bernard Sinsheimer was president of Sinsheimer 
& Company, grain and beans; Silas D. Sinton was 
with Sinsheimer & Company. 

***Joseph Di Giorgio 


That C.C.W. do it, not that he do it? 






No, no, that C.C.W. do it. We shouldn t have let 
Di Giorgio in. He was a bad actor. Dl Giorgio is 
known for either running a thing or destroying, 
and he destroyed this. He broke it up. 

He did? 

Yes. He was responsible. And I ve seen him... he 
just had to conplain to Mario right away that they 
vrere all going to go broke. And so Mario had him 
and his treasurer over and had me come up. 

Who was Di Giorgio* s treasurer? 

A man named Kelly, wasn t it? I can t remember, 
but he was a very astute fellow. He wasn t as 
mouthy as old Joe was. So they sat there and made 
their charges to Mario, again repeated what he had 
said. Old Joe did the talking; he didn t let anybody 
else talk. And I said, "That s a God damn lie, Mr. 
Di Giorgio, and. you know it." And I looked him 
right in the eye. "Well," Mario said, "Well, Joe, 
get out of this. We ll finance your wine for you. 
Get out of this movement. You don t belong here. 
You re a bad. actor." But this was his salvation; 
he could make all the punk wine he wanted, to, and 
we had to take care of it. v/e sold it. We moved 
along. We d realized that we had to have some 
storage at both ends of this business up here for 
table wine, and down there for sweet wine, dessert 
wines as they re called. 

So that s why you bought Greys tone? 

That s why I bought Greys tone. I think we paid 
the bank $175,000 for Greystone.* They got out in 
good shape. That s a beautiful plant. I d like 
to have had money enough at the time to have 
bought it. It s not a good money making plant 
unless you ve got big operations like [Christian 
Brothers]. I don t think they ve ever made any 
money operating that as a plant, but it s a good 
deal for them to popularize, and they retail a lot 
of wine out there. 

Do they? 

*See Interview History, pp. xii-xiii and xvi-xvii. 





Oh yes. Have you even been up here on a Sunday 
when these winery yards have been full? 

I haven t for a long time, but I have in the nast. 
It s worth corcing up to see them. 

Now, at this time I was getting pretty well 
played, out, physically tired, didn t sleep very 
good. Mr. Di Giorgio was the cause of my losing 
interest in it. But along came Mr. Lou [Louis] 
Golan with this letter to the head of the bank 
from one of the Roosevelts, introducing him and 
saying that he had been sales manager for [Lewis 
S.] Rosenstiel of Schenley. And Louis was on his 
own now, apparently, or was representing Schenley, 
and he was going to take over the whole thing, 
lock stock and barrel, right away. And he did. 
So I was out then. I was ready to go back to the 

I went back to the bank and then took a long 
vacation. I ve forgotten what I decided to do, 
but that was about the time I had that contract 
with the government. 

For the wheat bins? 

For the grain bins, yes. I shipped about a train- 
load a day from six lumber mills that I didn t own 
but I had contracts with. That was a rabbit out 
of the hat. 

That was wonderful, yes. 

Did you know who Louis [A.] Benoist was? 

Yes. He owned Almaden, didn t he? 

Yes. He at one time was the so-called owner of 
Almaden. But Louis was the head of the Lawrence 
Warehouse Company, and when I was working on that 
grain bin deal I happened to tell Louis about it, 
because they had warehouses on a lot of lumber 
mills, and he wanted to get in on it. In fact I 
wasn t going to do any more than to submit the 
idea to someone and then get somebody to manufacture 
it. That s what I really did. Then my function 
was performed. Well, my mother was out that winter, 



and I took her back in the spring, and I found out 
when I got to Denver and Kansas City that the 
greatest t>roblein facing the nation was what to do 
with the srain crop, the wheat crop especially. 
So I stopped in at Senator [Arthur] Capper s 
office in Kansas City to see just how bad the 
situation was there. I hadn t been in touch too 
much with the East. I knew there was going to be 
a storage problem anyway with a big wheat crop. 
They told me that Senator Capper was devoting all 
of his time to it back there, and he was. He was 
on a committee with Secretary [Henry] Wallace [or 
the Department of Agriculture] . They were trying 
to find some idea that would work and give them 
storage buildings quick. I decided that I was the 
guy that could supply them. 

I m going to make a note of that issue of the 
Pacific Rural Press. That ll tell quickly why 

they were there. 
cover article. 

It s the September 5 19^2, 




I wanted to ask you about the suit against the 
wineries. How did it come up? 

How did it develop. Well, Mario always considered 

this* a legal operation, not an extra-legal one, 
see. And he had a lot of trust In people, so he 
would call in Louis Petri and Cella and Vieth of 
Mount Tivey. Now, Vieth of Mount Tivey should 
have known better. But Russell wouldn t go, and 
we decided that neither of us would appear at such 
a meeting where they discussed prices. Neither of 
us ever sat in on a meeting where there were prices 
discussed, so our skirts were clean of price 
discussions. These men didn t have any background 
of laws, of what you could do and couldn t do, so 
one would go home and sit dovm and write to his 
sales manager, "I just came from a meeting. So-and- 
so and so-and-so was there, and we all agreed that 
we would hold for 28 or 29 or 31 cents for such-and- 
such. Now you can go ahead and with certain of your 
customers and shade that a little." Which was 
typical Italian, see. 

Central California Wineries 




How did. this come out? Because the government 
subpoenaed all of their records of all this group.* 
Before long we heard that a grand jury had been 
called to investigate the activity of the Bank of 
America and a few other banks and the wineries in 
fixing prices, anti-trust violation. Well, I had 
kept in touch with my two classmates in Washington 
in the Department of Agriculture that were working 
on that raisin deal. I used to call them up 
sometimes three or four times a week, because I 
discussed certain phases with them. I had to have 
counsel, see, on some of these phases of the thing. 
How would you do this and keep from getting into 
Sherman Anti-Trust trouble, see? So I built up a 
background back there so that these boys knew 
everything about what we were doing. 

And about the time we announced our buying of 
grapes for the co-op, this non-profit institution, 
why they came out and made the raisin loan. And one 
of those boys I had brought out to California for 
a couple of years as my assistant over in Sacramento- 
Ed Gaumnitz. He was very close to Wallace. He was 
on Wallace s strategic materials purchasing group. 

So the threat came? 

Well anyway, it was decided to send Mount Wild 
back. By that time I was out, but I was closely 
in touch with what was going on, through the 
underground channels. So of course when the 
discussion was going on about Mount going back, I 
told him who to see. And when he got to a point 
where he needed to use those fellows, he could use 
them. So he was in Washington very nearly a month 
or so, and he got the California congressional 
delegation together and they had these experts 
from the Department of Agriculture over. Who was 
the great artist from Philadelphia one of the 
family was Attorney General? A great artist family. 
He was Attorney General of the United States and 
little Joe was working for him in the Trust 

Joe [Joseph L.] Alioto? 

Yes. Joe thought he had a bear by the tail and 
was sivinrring it good and easy. And if you were to 
get the Examiners of that period, you would probably 
see where a telegram came fros the Attorney General 

*June 20, 19^2. See Interview History, p. xiv. 










of the United States to the grand jury telling 
them to lay off the wine business. He d got to 
where they had had a meeting of the lawyers of all 
the people that are named in it and all the 
Institutions. My lawyer was there, Dan Hadsell. 
He said it was one of the outstanding groups of 
lawyers ever to get together. I think there were 
probably a hundred lawyers. There were a lot of 
people named in that complaint. 

When was it filed? Do you remember? 

I think it was 

And was it a federal case? 

Yes, a federal crand jury. 

Was it filed in the San Francisco district? 

Yes, San Francisco.* 

Now that was a good stabilizing move. That 
took the deal after prorate. Prorate temporized 
with it there for that one year, and if there hadn t 
been a big crop the next year and the next year... 
We had brought the price level up to where the 
growers could afford to give good tillage to their 
land and raise crops. 

Later your brandy was sold at a good profit, wasn t 

Oh yes. The brandy was sold. Nothing was expected 
out of it, you see. It was sold and brought pretty 
near twenty dollars a ton, 

But it brought a good profit? 

Yes, to the growers. The growers got that money. 

When did it sell? A good deal later, didn t it? 

In the next five, six, seven years. You don t sell 
brandy much under five years old . 

*See also Appendix I. 










I have here a clipping from the San Francisco 
Chronicle of 1950", "April 13th. The headline is 
*xapp Asked About Wine Organization at T.A Hearing. " 
At that time Jesse Tapp was asked about Central 
California Wineries and said that the winery 
organization was dissolved because It had the 
opportunity to dispose of the various wineries at 
profitable prices. 

Well, that s wrong, because they didn t own any 
wineries. Oh, those two wineries, the storage 

And he said the wineries were t>ur chased by two 
large national distillery concerns. 

Well, one of them was Schenley, and... 
National Distillers? 

National Distillers bought Shewan- Jones over at 
Lodi, and they also bought Italian Swiss Colony 
out. They are a little bit mixed up on what 
they re talking about there.* 

But everything was disposed of, was It? 

Essentially it was Louis Golan who went in, and 
blew up in quite a short time. I don t know 
whether he thought he was going to sell it to 
Rosenstiel, but Louis was a fast operator. He 
offered me a big salary to come in with him, and 
Andy [Prericks] a big salary too, Andy was a wine 
chemist, a good wine man. He knew how to make it; 
he knew what was good. Well, Andy agreed that he 
would go with Gowan, and I tras going back to the 
bank, at least temporarily. But the kind of work 
that I was doing, industry organizations, wasn t 
needed so much because we had a national program 
on where an agricultural industry could go in and 
organize under it and work under a national law 
and under the state laws. Well, I got busy on my 
grain bins at this time. 

Well, you certainly did play an interesting part 
in stabilizing the industry. You had done what you 
intended to do. 

Yes, I did what I started out to do, and I went 
back to my desk in the bank. The Gianninis assured 

*3chenley alone was the buyer. 
History, p. xvi. 

See Interview 




me, with Mr. Sbarboro sitting there, that "We re 
,<roing to run this; this isn t going to be an R.^.C. 
deal." Because when they had that deal with the 
3.F.C., they couldn t be keeping their finrer on 
it like they did this, see. But in this one Mario 
knew what was going on every day. Well, he said, 
"Burke Critohfield is going to manage this deal, 
end he s going to do it as a vice ^resident of 
this bank, an officer of this bank. He s done a 
fine job for us in the few years he s been here, 
and he s got a job for life." And that s what 
they thought about me. 

Let He go back and ask you a question. The 
Central California Wineries disposed of their 
t>ro"Derties. Was that because of the threat of 
ant i- trust, or was it because nrosnerity had 

Oh no. Prosperity had returned, and the members 
wanted to get out. They didn t want to be hired 
men any longer, see. Stabilization had worked, 
and they wanted to make the money that they could 
make on their own. 

I think it was an effective job. You had the 
tot) men of the largest bank in the world knowing 
what was being done and satisfied that it was 
going to be a good stabilization move. I needed 
friends here. Mario was in the hospital, so 
Russell Smith, his assistant and one of the tot> 
vice ^residents there, was the man I was sutmosed 
to see when Mario was gone if I needed to knock 
anybod.y in the head or if I needed money. So Bill 
[Williair T. ] Dunn came down, a nice-looking young 
fellow, and we [Central California Wineries] signed 
a lease for a floor of that bank, almost half a 
floor of that big bank. That was the Helm Building 
in Fresno. And then there was the question of 
where we would get the furniture. Well, I said, 
"Go up to Rucker-Fuller s; I know one of the vice 
presidents there and I ll tell him to get them for 
you." We made out a list. I said, "You know, 
Bill, what we need here now. It s going to be 
mostly accounting, see." It was an accounting job. 

So he came up and reported to Smith, and. 
Smith called me and said, "Who is going to pay for 
this?" I said, "Don t make me laugh, Russ. Get 
that furniture started down here as quick as you 


can. We want to make a show of being in operation, 
see." That helped a lot. The psychology of how 
you do something is a very important thinar. And 
I m a nromoter, you understand. You ve talked to 
me long enough to know I m a promoter and I <?et 
somebody else to do lots of the work. But the 
psychology you use, and that was a well thought 
through deal. And we had the growers back of us. 





Now, in the meantime, to ^et that advertising 
nrograin we had to go out and virtually take a lot 
of those little Italian wineries. To get them in 
we had to say, "Mr. A. P. says you re to be in. " 

This was with the Wine Institute, was it? 

Yes. The Wine Institute had taken nart in their 
advertising program and in any other moves that 
were made . 

Well, that s interesting. I know that Mr. Herman 
Wente and John Daniel Jr. worked hard getting it 

Yes, but I did more than anybody else, without 
too much noise. 1*11 say that. I had the big 
stick, sec; I knew how to wield a big stick. I 
didn t go personally down to Santa Clara County or 
any of these other sections and say, "You re going 
to come into the Wine Institute." I sent word to 
the [bank] manager, called the manager and told 
him or whoever was supervising their credit. I 
think it was a legitimate use of credit of the 
power of credit extension. 

So they ve done a good advertising job, I 
think. Well, we put that over. Then Mario says, 
"Now who are you going to mit in there to handle 
the advertising?" Well, I said, "What do you and 
A. P. think about it? Will you give me the right 
name?" Now, we could have put in the people who 
were handling the raisin deal, the orange deal 
they were good friends of the bank --but we gave it 
to J. Walter Thompson [advertising agency). We 






had everybody submit a rxLan. When the board or 
committee were named to select the agency, we saw 
that the right men were put in there, enough of 
them so that we weren t outnumbered. 

Did you have anything to do with naming the 
people in the Wine Institute jobs too? 

No, we did not. Harry [Caddow] had been with 
Gonn. And I will say that they held their reins 
nretty tight, [Jefferson] Peyser and Caddow and 
[Leon] Adams, on that deal. I was surprised that 
they didn t attempt to name the agency then. We 
didn t tell them that we were going to do it, but 
we did it. J. Walter Thompson at that time was 
a good friend of A. P. s and a good friend of the 
bank and a customer. Those were the days when you 
reciprocated with favors, see. "You scratch my 
back and I ll scratch yours." 

Did you know that I put in most of a year 
loaned by the bank to correct wine legislation? 
That s when I had my contract with Adlai 
[Stevenson] . 

What year was that? 


Who were you working for then? 

The bank paid me, but the Institute mid the 
expenses and was supposed to furnish me with all 
the money I needed to grease the skids. That s 
one good way to express it. 

You were what s known as a lobbyist? 

I was. I was a super-lobbyist, because I would 
fly from Columbus over to Madison, up to St. Paul. 

Was all this concerned with getting legislation? 

Corrective legislation in the states, in the big 
potential wine-consuming states.* It was tough 

*See also Appendix II. 


Critchf ield: work; it was awfully tough work. And we should 
have got that Illinois deal through. Adlai and 
I both felt bad. 

[Shows pamphlet, "Memorandum Concerning Proposed 
Amendments to the Illinois Liquor Control Law 
with Regard to Wine" by Adlai Stevenson, Of 
Counsel for Wine Institute, May 30, 1935] 

This contains a very good set of arguments 
why Illinois should pass this bill. Well, we got 
it through the Senate, but the Speaker of the 
House was a family friend of Adlai s and he said, 
"Don t submit it to the committee here. They re 
a bunch of thieves." Any bill that had to do 
with liquor, you see, was a money bill, and he 
said, "They re hungry." But he said, "At the last 
session we ll take it up. I ll maneuver it into 
a vote." And we got a vote on it, but we were 
short seventeen votes of passing it. We had a 
good bill. It was just like California very low 
tax, a few dollars for the storing of some wine 
only. That would have put an outlet there that 
was worth millions and millions to the wine 

Adlai was a gentleman. I met him first when 
he was out here working under Hugh Johnson s blue 
eagle. Do you remember what the blue eagle was? 
A national program. Hugh Johnson was given the 
Job as national price fixer, more or less.* They 
would, hold hearings with industry and hear the 
buyers and sellers, the manufacturers and consumers 
and buyers, give their opinion of what was fair 
prices. And Mr. Johnson would put his seal of 
approval on it and it became more or less law 
then. And Adlai was working for Hugh Johnson, 
for that organization, in agricultural prices, 
and was sent out here to hold a hearing of the wine 
industry. Now this is something you haven t got 
yet. This is a chapter that really belongs in 
here. They held hearings for two or three days, 
and one day we took him up to Asti. I went along, 
and Bob Wilson of the State Chamber of Commerce, 

^Director of the National Recovery Administration. 






and. Harry Caddow, and we were invited to get back 
to Beaulieu in time for a mid-day meal that was 
out of this world. The old man who ran that was 
[Georges] de La tour. We were held ur> a little by 
a prairie fire somewhere, but we got back and 
started in I sunt>ose about half past one with 
champagne cocktails. And then they brought in 
bis platters of first breasts of doves. 

What year was that? 

This was before 35 because 35 was when I got 
into that work in Illinois. And then he brought 
his finest wines out. And then another platter 
with pheasant. I was sitting next to Harry Caddow, 
and I said, "Harry, is this the main course?" on 
the first dish, the doves. And he said, "Yes." 
We were late, and we were hungry. But we sat 
there for about three hours and ate. One course 
after the other. And the old man was then in his 
eighties and could hop up those steel stairs in 
that winery like a goat. 

Then the next day I didn t go along. They 
took him down to the wineries at San Jose and 
then to Del Monte. 

So Adlai Stevenson got a good look at the 
California wine industry. 

Stevenson knew a lot about the business, the wine 
business. When I got ahold of him and hired him, 
he was with one of the leading law firms in Chicago. 
He had. two good traits: one was his ability to 
meet people and get along with them well, and the 
other was the prestige of the Stevenson family. 
You see, his grandfather was a former vice president 
of the United States, Adlai Stevenson. 

Final Typist: Kay Suglmoto 



Memorandum by Burke H. Critchfield, 1970 

The government presented a case to the federal grand jury 
in 19^2 against the wine industry of California. The title USA 
vs Bank of America was used, because the industry organization 
plan was developed by Burke H. Critchfield, vice president of 
the 3ank of America, and some members of the industry and some 
of the bank officials apparently are said to have had conversa 
tions about wine prices from time to time (not 3.H.C.). 

Critchfield. had kept USDA officials in close touch with 
the development of the program. These officials were considering 
a loan program for the raisin grape industry and made their 
decision tie in with this wine program and more or less contingent 
on its development . 

When word got out that the federal grand jury were about to 
bring an indictment of industry leaders we sent Mount K. Wild, 
of Fresno, who helped develop the contractual documents, to 
Washington, B.C., to contact the various government men 
Critchfield had worked with and with the anti -trust people and 
Attorney General Biddle. General Bid die sent word to the Grand 
Jury in San Francisco to "lay off" the wine industry. 

The program developed by Critchfield did not warrant 
adverse legal action, and helped to bring fair prices to all 
grape growers in spite of tremendous crops. 



Report by Burke H. Critchfleld to the Wine Institute, June 1935 


llr. Burke H. Critchf ield, who has been assisting the Yine Institute in 
meeting Eastern and Midwestern legislative and marketing problems, has made a most 
interesting and highly significant report. The following are excerpts from 
Mr. Critclifield 1 s statement: 

The keystone of the program of the Wine Institute has been the im 
provement of wine quality. Without quality it is impossible to exttect 
to educate the buying public in the use of wine. Wine must taste good, 
not only to those who know wine, but to those who are unacquainted with 
it. Most Americans are in the neophyte class as far as wine Is concern 
ed. It is essential th-it once wine is purchased, the buyer will react 
favorably and be encouraged to continue its use. 

While the program of quality improvement is now taking positive 
effect in California, its effects nationally rri.ll ^robn.bly be rather 
slow, for various reasons. One of the principal r orisons is that there 
arc scores of so-called wineries throughout the country, and especially 
in the metropolitan Now York area and oth jr large populous centers, 
which although securin" thoir basic supnlios from California, have not 
been and vdll not be governed by the California wine quality standards. 
Many of these are in the business only for an immediate profit and ap- 

. parently care nothing about building for the future. If the quality, 
or rather lack of quality, of their product is any indication, they do 
not intend to remain in the wine business long. The conclusion is that 
as long as we continue to supply that type of distributor with our wines 

and such distributors are allowed to prostitute our wines, there naturally 
will be offered to consumers lerge quantities of substandard and compounded 
products which should under no circumstances appear on the market. The 
solution to this problem is definitely in the hands of the California 
vendors if they will confine their sales to the reliable distributors, 
For without wine to blend, sugar, aneliorate and generally ruin, this 
disturbing element would be almost immediately eliminated from the 
picture. To emphasize further, instances are common where California 

! wineries, In addition to maintaining listribution in a particular market^ 
i iro /elliri, no operators of the ty/p above mentioned and the latter are 
i Irr.c.vr. to ur. . -r.nell the di. c _ributir:r wineries. Raisins, dried r.rapes, 
concentrate, extracts, watp;- and , v. r,ar are in no small measure entering 
into this picture. These com: ounds are rut out as "wine" in elaborate 
packages, with intriguing vintap- 5t?.tenentr, sometimes "guaranteed," 
It is small wonder that the purchaser of this type of merchan 
dise loses interest in wine. 

sVhile defini^- pro f .rens is being made in the correction of adverse 
and discri-.inatoy legislation affecting wine throughout the country. 
it is imperative that the wines of California be of such quality that 
they will be greatly superior, according to type, to the inferior pro 
ducts which have been offered for sale. And while on the subject of 
quality, it is our suggestion that the most meticulous oare be exercis 
ed as to quality when a new brand is being introduced into a lukewayra 
market. This applies especially to the situation when the wine trade 
is moving into the many new markets which are being opened up by the 
legislative reforms for which the Wine Institute has been working. 

Much work is yet ahead of the <rrape and wine industry in a legis 
lative way before the marketing channels now clogged with unfavorable 
wine legislation are fully opened. It will take several years. 
Progress will be greater if the wine industry has cleaned its house 
and definitely established quality wine with the trade and consumers, 
A continuation of activity on the part of the Wine Institute nationally 
and throughout the states where and when such is possible will probably be 
tho most inexpensive method by which channels of distribution can be 
opened and wine consumption increased. Wine merchandising methods must 
be improved. The California grape grower and wine producer can expect 
a market for their light wines only from the consumers of the present 
25 to 30 million gallons of homemade wine when the aforementioned condi 
tions are met. To develop a market among the American people generally 
is going to take patience and a tremendous amount of educational work, 
This will probably involve creating a taste and liking for table wines 
and some clmnge in drinking habits, jefore prices can be stabilized 
it must be fully recognized that there are just as distinctive grades 
of wine as there are distinctive grades of canned fruit or makes of 


Members of Central California Wineries, Inc. 


Acampo Winery & Distilleries, Inc. 
Acampo, Calif. 

Alta Winery & Distillery 
P.O. Box 36 
Binuba, Calif. 

Bisceglia Bros. Wine Co. 
Mattel Bldg. , 
Fresno, Calif. , and 
Reedley, Calif. 

Central Winery, Inc. 
Bank of America Bldg. 
Fulton & Tulare Sts. 
Fresno, Calif. 

Box 303 
Kingsburg, Calif. 

St. Helena, Calif. 

Colonial Grape Products Company 

of California 
Elk Grove, Calif. 

Crest View Winery, Inc. 
P.O. Box 1425 
Fresno, Calif. 

Da Roza Winery 
P.O. Box 707 
Lodi, Calif. 

Di Giorgio Fruit Corporation 
433 California St. 
San Francisco, Calif., and 
Sierra Vista Ranch 
Delano, Calif. 

Franzia Bros. Winery 
Rt. L, Box 124 
Ripon, Calif. 

J. Frasinetti & Son 
P.O. Box 113 
Florin, Calif. 

Fresno Winery, Inc. 
911 Helm Bldg. 
Fresno, Calif., and 
Shaw & Winery Aves. 
Clovis, Calif. 

Italian Vineyard Company 
815 Transamerica Bldg. 
Los Angeles, Calif., and 
Guasti, Calif. 

E. Morello 

Rt. 2, Box 187 
Herman, Calif. 

Mount Tivy Winery, Inc. 
P.O. Box 1588 
Fresno, Calif. 

F. Pirrone & Sons Winery 
P.O. Box 226 

Salida, Calif. 

St. George Winery 
P.O. Box 326 
Fresno, Calif. 

San Joaquin Winery & 

Distillery, Inc. 
P.O. Box 134 
Fresno, Calif. 

.Pulare Winery Company 
P.O. Box 1^8 
Tulare, Calif. 

Village Winery, Inc. 
Box 216 
Escalon, Calif. 





em, it 

trttl Cod/or** *1 

c i$vp*rrt*n f <** 

ori<rinaKj/ in/ the frwtrr Italian ** <&? U|fr 
*** jw^ttton $?% *$/ CaH/omio \ 

ssociation of ivliicli the Italian Swiss bed 
ter the plant was acquired by th? late a 
ently purchased by Mnrtini who made vj 
repeal and two v ars ago complm 



me Stabilization Groupf 
purchases Kingsburg 
iPlant Of Martini Firm 

Winery Will Be Used For Blending,! 
Aging Product; Vintners Say Move- 
Will Strengthen Grower Prices 


Officers of the Central California Wi.veries. Inc., today fn- 
pounced the purchase of the L. M. Martini Winery at Kingsburg 
land plans for an additional large storage and blending plant, in- 
Ivolving a total outlay of more than $1,000,000 in what they termed 
I the most important step taken by th* wine inrlyfctry since the 
[repeal of prohibition. 

Facilities made possible through 
1h< deal, they said, will accomplish 
various objectives for th mutua 
benefit of growers nd vintner 
and likwi assure tht> rs1e ar> 
the pnWk o the highe-t qualit 
of fully aged sxveet wines. 
At-qulro Inventory 

The entire 2000,000 gallon Inver 
fory of vintage swept win in tb 
Martini plant was acquired wit 
(he property which will bt e? 
inrged to provide storage ar 
hlending facilities for more thi 
10,000,000 gallons. About halt 
the present inventory dates back 
the time of the prohibition law i 

Construction plans call for t 
less than 5,000,000 gallons art, 
tional storage, in addition to otl 
added storaga under thp pros 
roofs. Both concrete and woo* 
tanks will be installed us will J 
design refrigeration, laborat- . 
electrical and steam equipment; 
Release Stnur Firilltle* 

The CCW officla said the j 
ect also will revise the 
facilities of mpmb. r wineri^-. 
production of new wines fronf- 
coming crops . ijid enabl- 
w,r.er1?5 *tTr hold S*iiW 
perctntag*! of present i,loii< 
further maturing. 

Growers, tli 
provided with] 
(for grps, < 
ulrenglh the b*f 
I !ucers may exp< 
ontinued CCW 
| :ash on deilvenl 
C1vtn L. Rui( 
[president, said: i 
"The purchM 
[riant from Leut 
I issociatei repr 
r in the 

. Hlirh QOJ 

Ttfl* far r 

ussfll said, "n 

the hands of (X 

well, balanced 

! crade wines b 

hhe most impw 

that has been ta 

Idustry since r*p 

[able to the tri< 

ujniog public 

igh grid* vln 

"Equally Imp 
[plans still in th 
lation, crystalli 
[nieetings of th 
of Cehtrtl I 
line., together w 
I fprenccs btw*e 
of CCW and UK 
[headed b^ the 1 


a H c. 

1 CHFlf ; 

c\ in CM i a 

- M TA 


tsoeiat .on of which the Italian Swiss became a stibaid- 
tter the plant was acquired by the late E. Y. Foley and 
ently purchased by Martini who made rnricd imjirove- 
follou-inr) rrpealjind two years agn completely remodeled 

it as seen Irony thg 

iclllties made possible through 

deal, they said, will accomplish 

iBUj objectives for the mutu* 

flt of growers arrt vintner 

likfwiw assure the .rade an 

public of the hictiext quaht 

Wf aged sweet wines; 

Acquire- Inventory 

to entire 2,000.000 gallon inven. 

of vintage sweet win* in the 

ftlni plant was acquired with 

property which, will b en- 

;ed to provide storage and 

iding facilities for more than 

00,000 gallons. About half of 

Growers, they explained. 


"Of primary in : 
ers and to business ge. TmT in ft* 
San Joaquln Valley will he c 
tlnuation of the policy, ann- uni <! 
when CCW was organized Intf 
Summer of paying cr.h- to grown 
ers on delivery of their grapes." 

Acquisition of the winery to* 
gether with Its Inventory, brings 
ithe total volume of win* now i*j 
the hands of CCW to approst* 
mately 16,000,000 gallon*. This in* 
eludes all of the unsold wtnei mart* 
by CCW members during th 1939 
season plus all of the aged wine* 
held by members and includes, 
blocks of wines acquired in inter* 
winery transactions for storing 
aging and blending purposes. 

^Through the facil I ies of trie lifw 
ant, it was pointed out, various 
vantages will b made possible, 
he following were stressed: 
First Facilities not nov. avail- 
le for agin* and blending of over 
,0,000,000 gallons of In, al wine 
stepping CCW s totnl mr.arlty up 
J.000,000 gallons i, making it pos- 
ible to as=ure the highest stand- 
irds of sweet wines and to further 
Establish for Central California the 
rowing reputation ttiat here is 

recognized sweat wi 

Brandy Market Aided 
Second Jtelease. the storage fa- 

gsrg. S3Sf.^rjarrsB 

^n|tk 8 th. e UW Jr&5^ S Und fUllyi 
lucers may expect to rec.tve on l"?jJ lr V ^M e n f a cim ie. for mer- 

ontmued CCW policy o pay! 
of T,ar. 

resident, said: 

an epochi 

associates represent* 

in the wine and gn 
of California. 
High Quallry Altaired 

present inventory dates back to . "TtfU far reaching . progra: 
time of the prohibition law r*- Russell said, "not only brings in._,_.. _ __. .. 

the hands of CCW an exceptionally vintage wines. 

nstructlon plan* call for not well balanced Inventory of high out frequently that at certain sea- 
ttan 5,000,000 gallons addi- grade wines but also represent! sons there has been less than oni 

chandising commercial brandy and 
[fortifying spirits while developing 
[an energetic sales campaign for 
[California brandies in competition 


(subject to the same strict regula 
tions that are required of domestic 
liquors under state and federal 

.Fourth Enable the Industry to 
Imitablish, for the f;rt tm-e since 

Hi Storage, in addition to ot 
ll storage under the pres 

Both concrete and wo< 
te will he installed as will 
ign refrigeration, laborato: 
:trleal and steam equipment. 

Beleaut Storage Facilities 

te CCW officials said the jjfr 
also will release the stor 
Ullles of memfcer wineries^ 
"lUttlon of new wines froni 
Dbg. crops atid enable t 
HHSrtB- hold * 4caM lar 
:ntag* , of present, stock* 
ther maturing. 

the- >not importan^-fatward_ step 
.that has been taken in the wine in 
idustry since repeal in making avail. 
lable te the trade and ot the con 

year s supply of wines on hand, 
whereas normal trad- requirements 
for quality wines necessitate a 
storage of aging wines equal to at 

hfgh t 

robahilify tha 7 he storage fa 

^-s may later h further expanded 

*> more then ri-, :ble the present 

tontrmplated capacity was indl- 

i-ated by Russell. 

More StoniKe Needed 
"It probably will be necessary," 
he std. "to have more storage c*- 
Dtci v for our wines before thK 
\" finally completed. Aging 
In fv in California should ulti- 
.;> !>> of sufficient capacity to 
ve the grapes offered and t 
care of wines manufactured 
jnonmembT* who do not havcj, 
capacity for storing and gin J 
r wines and must have some 
where they can be stored 
and cared for at a minim"* 

Individual plant capacltlwf 
would then be available to 
care of each season s crush during) 
the vintaee season and an adequate ] 
:upply of properly matured w<ne| 
wo-ild bf avsilati>? to -tht?-merchan- J 

- factors In the Industry. Thls| 

avoid the forcing of young nr j 
hnmature wine into consumption Inj 
the, future." 

ArTive In the negotiation* In a<J-S 
ditlon to Ruisell and B^ H. Critch-J 
field, vl 

field, ylcejgreside 
Sroerlca and < : 
~ ~ 

resident or the 

leading vintners including Joseph 
Di Giorgio, CCW director and pro 
prletor of the Dl Giorgio and Ear 
Fruit Company vineyards. 

frits** Move 
Enroute to New York, DI Glorg 
said: "The ne program of 
accomplished with the 

least two or three years total pro 

New Grower OoHU Re#n 

of the major commercial end coop 
erative winerie*, together with j 
progress thf j have warte in balanc 
ing inventories during the last six 
months, represents one of tht most 
far reaching developments for the 
benefit of California agriculture. 
j he policy of cash pyni*n>s to grow 
er* for their grap** will ot course 
be continued." 

Dl Giorgio paid tribute to Presi 
dent L. M. Ginninni and other of 
ficers of the Bank of America. 

"\v.!h their farsighted leadership 
jn financing the Industry and with 
y-^a fie cooperation of a jcore and 

a ti 

fie co 
alf of 

grower minded w; 

concerns," he saW, "we now have 
available adequate finance*, mpptox- 
jSo.OOO.fXXTTind during the 

ag public a wide variety of 
grade vintage wine* in th 

"Equally Important are thei Fifth -Provide the grower* addi-l nexl twnty months we have ^very 
ilan* stUl In the process negoj t[onal outletg -. freaon to believe v. e wiU b si>c- 

stion, "ystallued I. : a , l~ sixth-Provide storage ufrk-ient|.essful in putting into effect con- 

po that the crushing of grape* <-anstructive policies many of us have 

done more ra^ldijr Growers 
lus will 
peir g; 
an a 

|pes de ! 
c mature 

._ J at Central California Wineries, 
Inc., together with a (trie* of con* 

fences between the management.] 
CCW and the financial agencies 7 1 
Headed b the Rank of 

een hoping and working for ver 
ine* repeal." 

Loaned By 

Critchfield was loaned to CCW by 
he Bank of America. Commenting 
n today s announcement h said; 

Group Buy 
lartini Kingsburg Plant 

nils expanded program willll 
nil out the plans developed by | 
nber wineries of CCW when thej 

inizatinn \vi. conceived and PS- 
lished las- full > avoid th -ha-: 
tfraatlfln W-irh then trueat-; 
J.- the grape industry and the| 
wers with prospects that grapes] 
lid seii as low as from S3 to $5 

One of CCW s primnr- nbjctivl 
I to provide a cy-i n rk t for 
pen. During the d":Afi> srason 
wer- vote paid in fuU eac-h week) 
men:- avrapme frrrm $11 to $1" 
Y^ Under 1M- expanded pro- ; 
j the I--, -mi .vflfare of th 
pe gr<; *- Will H suhstnnt 
B in -t- t i s ntiilize t 
Barul *<- ! durtns th 

1 f * 


^^ com- 

l^p> i*K*cre of the 
ge tOTmaR" in " 

Not Renirirted I > Members 
*0ur fae. .itics for storing, aging 
d blending of wine will not nece 
fjjy be restricted to member j 
but will be available to] 
Ii>. fart s number of thej 
[dependent, wineries arel 

templatinR participation - 
th CCW in a national sales pro- 

With the **> of th-- Kings-ijurg 
BSt wa- understood that Martini 
H devo h,< efforts to the ron- 
Hjed development and merchan- 
ilng of t K>I gra ie dry wines in 
I Napa Val ey \v-ere he has ex-j 
bve vir.ev&rd interests and up 
date cellars. 

Other Of V rr and officers 
Uve in handling the negotiations! 

J. B. Gundert, vlqj prcii4< i nl 
CCW, former pre :(.!( . of the) 
irnif? and Men-Hunt -i Rank a^t 
A and president of. the .TOOO.OOT t 
lion Acampo Winery at. Lodi 
tfRes nubhf, president of the Altai 
Bjfy nd Distillery at Dinuba.j 
fti. K. V. i!d, attorney nd CCW| 

Member* Are I i.t<<d i 

Other rr/irnb v .i.eries are Ear! 
alt CompatM 11- Wallace Wine-j 
" Delan " la W .-:--> Com-! 
Tularr; A a Wine;; 

Dinu^a; - . ueorge, San Joa-| 
Fresno: California Winerie^ 
and Crestview. 1 
Mo ello Winery, 
Bro?., Kscalon; 

., Wuhtf ke: F::i/inettl, Florin 
Bipo am. : : - M; Colonie) 

.pe Prod .. ; v. ] ..k 4 \ e, 
Iher wine ind :str,. ^ todi* 

as foiiows: 

B. C>11. president of !. 
tat Comp^r,;. : Our company - 
tjvely pari:,--;iaip i with the inri 
^and \vitii i e few gro!p in 
IJKative program to st 

dUltry and hr ins bettev , 
growers. \Vere;lated 
Sanded program and extend n;u- 
flgrai i .ations on its concur, ma 
in. Inder the able management 
.Calvin !,. K- -sell and Kiirke 
ichfieid it Is sure to surreed. i 


S. W. ^Tarkleroad, president 
\V!ne Ingf <ute an1 general 
grr of Man*! Winrries The _. ,, 
Company and ourselves knw thai 
this anno-^nfmenf marks he b* 
ginning of a new- rhapf in lh" 
progressive d .ei :>ntent ot the Ca! . 
ifornia win* I is!. ss It means ad# 
ed prospei \ i: verv < ommunit 
where g;apes arv jr 

Termed Forward "--p 

Frank Gianni^ni president of Ihe 
Tulsre Winery Company This is a 
great forward Mep in a struggle 
ai-iinst h*avy odds to rebuild the bus!t;e- of Central California. 
^Krarn means great 
r n/resi! fir the grape and wine in- 
C. -" 

ihek. eashler, Farmers * 

]Wf - -., nvs Bank of Lorii This Is 

th<- bisccst thing in the industry 

F-, repeal. Through the added fa- 

ri made )>o=ib;e by present fi- 

nancinc. far tin r wines will be 

lilv to he consumer in the 

-. This will broaden our mar- 

U-ts ".nd. coincini-g as it does with 

the $2.000.C:On ii ^-isiry advertising 

program, it will 5. t the wine busi- 

again on B solid foundation. 

This will bring prosperity to Lodi 

Pj\ri all other wine producing com- 

rn initie?." 

A. R. Morrow, vice president of 
Kruit Industries and chairman of 
the hoard of Wine InMimte This 
Is not only good news 10 the win*. 
industry which has been struggling 
"<;r since repeal to establish itself. 
on a sound basis, but it will he 
equally good news to the trade. 
There is a constantly growing mar 
ket for better wines and the fact 
that <>ie industry as whole i" 
launching Into a program of matur-| 
Ing and aging i .s nrod.K-ts should! 
bring about !n<-: "a.-.ed consumption 
of our wines wi:h b -fter prices thin 
hav<- prvai!~d :n he j-ast wh-n 
unme of if .rventories were o 
\vrnk held that they served to de 
press the whole niarke 

.7. V. Bare, Lodi distri vintn*r-- 
This marks the beginning of great 
forward strides jn the production o 
vintage wines and In the develnr- 
ment. of grenter markets for Califoj- 
nia varietif?. It is of vital import 
ance to growers and should be of 
great benefit to all frape growing 
romjrt 1 nines. 

A. S-trakiar ! ornia Growers 
Coopp stive W .< -y - I have been 
ndvo -attng an -nrtust-y stabilization j 
program 1* *. " his Is a great, 
- for tr. s s-je E.rowe--s and for 
ine tn.-iii 5 t r>. W owe a debt ofj 
Rra i iirie t-i the Bank of America; 
and others for p ovMing the lead-j 
*rsh!p and f h** ^ran .ng which hasj 
made thi^ .->. 

Home Economics Unit 
Tu lare 



.~*mmm *-** 

Greystone winery, which has been 

wirii rip.-, located in the important grapi 
soW by Bank of America, ~.vhJc!i recenl 

In an exclusive release to the Star 
[yesterday, ;- ;ile of the Greystone 

ry. ;it St. Ht-l"::a s Northern vrtv 
Ihmlts, v.-: y annuunc::d by 

I Central California Wineries, which 
aiquired the big pUint from ISanK oL , 
America. CCW, a non-profit eorror- 
ion, opornting >vith a membership 
lot 19 wiihiics located in thr> prinoi- . 
J vinta.;- ) trio S! ne, is 

Ifieaded bv f nivin itussell. president, 
and B. H vice p x-sident 

tr.d g."v.- 

"T5fe>- "^-ilt i the 

^.ale. will i fCDinc- ;: ren . ral point lor 

I CCW s dry vine- O.iv^i in .:id op- 

; (jns, wiiikini; vvitli ihc 19 other 

units and .:iii/.;.-tii>n s listtih- 1 

f.tihg plan in the East. Kiiie old 

stocks ot ; .iMd S-inoma county 

c"ry wines, rKiw ageing in the ^ak 

I casks, as well ^ the agem.7 t in- 

nels of Greystoticr \vcrc also pur- 

I chased by CC\V. The grouo v.ill 

now be in poyi 1 >n to acquire a se- 

Ice ted inventory of Sonoma and Men- 

i dcrino county wines, from other 

; wineries m the district, as well as 

(crushing a large amount of grapes 

ithis Fall. 




V l.i) 

i edtt 

the d|| 





XU A ( 01 VI V. < AIJFOIJMA. ri{IJ>AV. APRIL 1I>, I .MO 

Changes Owners 

Greystone winery, which ha^ he- n |,i;,vi:avrd :.y Central C ;.h*i. ->ia V .neries, non-profit organization of 19 

wincne..;. located in the imonrhiiit prape grooving regions of the 3!.;-.;e. The famous old show place was 

ik of Americn, -vh ch recently inquired the property. Star Photoengraving. 

In ; ii xe .usive release to the Slar 
:ni t\ side ill the Gn:vst -ne 
i; I s NV trif, n . ; ;.v 
its. : illy annuuiic-.:d ay 

ntral Cal -.111111:1 Wineries, which 
quired th- big plan! from Hank 01 
ineru-.-j ( C .V, a non-profit rort-or- 
tion, uj- Cr. tint^ \vith a membership 
19 wi. < . located in thr prirv-i- 
1 vinti .< , . , in> of the .Si-ue, is 
aded i i Hassell. preside-nt. 

d B^ 1 1 i . it -> i< 1:1, vice preside!. . 
d J[en< 

Grey i if : th- Vi^iilt . the 
le, will :.( mile- a central point l,ir 
. W s ii .vine division iind op- 
.ing with the i9 ot u r 
knits and h- organization s distub- 
uting plan- in the East. Fiae old 
stocks of Na;>a and Sonoma county 
dry wines IK v ageing in the oak 
casks, as well as the agein? t".R- 
nel? of G: cy-ton .;. were also pur 
chased by CCVV. The group v/iil 
now be in position to acquire a se 
lected inver.tory of Sonoma and Men- 
docino county wines, from other 
Wineries in the district, as well ns 
crushing 3 large amount of grapes 
this Fall. 

Greystone cellar has a capacity of 
2,000,000 gallons, and it is <, ntem- 
ploted ttiat an additional 1.000,000 
gallons of storage cooperage may b-j 

01 the 2,000,000 gallons o: pn 

cooperage, some 700,000 is line on I. 

ige for which the old winery 

V.MS Ion? famed. BiM-cglia B:othe.-s, 

v. h-> purchased the plant some nine 

yer.o ago. added 1,000.000 gallons of 

r>od cooperage, which, with 

ieous storage, makfs up the 

pn ent capacity. Also included ii. 

the deal is the still for making com- 

r.:< i. ial brandy. 

Greystone will cooperate v ith 
<Mher extensive dry wine wineries 
in the campaign, to popularize and 
increase sales of quality table vin 
tages. Entrance of CCW into the 
dry wine field is certain to exercise 
a stabilizing influence on the indus 
try, leaders are agreed, inasmuch :;s 
tht lM"it will act as a storage res- 
ervoiwfor wines made by smaller 
lu-od:ers of the dry wine area. 
Throfgh this holding capacity, a 
dampening effrrt upon price fluc- 
tuat ; ons Is exp*ct d resultin" in pr>r- 

(ti-. ular benelit to smaller predi. 
Another. ;ind equally ii- - 
J; etor, is the decisum to make iiic 
i. la winery once again a show plain 
who will be ta!%en 
i iiHigli !he plant and shown how 
St. Helena s vvoi ld famous vjiii 
. are made. 

Greystone has an interesting iis i 
h-ry. Built by the late W. B. Bourn ; 
land FArrett V*i.-.o. in the late 80* 
in the heyday of the old wine indus 
try, it was later acquired by the late 
: Charles Carpy, and subsequently 
! .era ted by Carpy, as head of the old 
i California Wine Association, Near 1 
the end of the prohibition period it 
was bough by Bisceglia Brother:., j 
, v ho operated other enterprises in i 
San Jose. It was long known as the 
largest stone winery in the world, 
j and the largest under one roof. No 
. change in personnel is contemplated 
! by the new owners, it was reported. 
Russell end Critchfield were Jn 
I St. Helena last Saturday to inspect 
i the property. CCW, of which the 
I two men are the heads, recently 
j bought the Martini plant in the S-in | 
Joaquin valley. 

New Community Plan 

GroW er memb H of the Com- ^atically pays back th* loan a 
mu mty Grape Corporation are - me sale, mjd 



enthusiastic .bout t,e new man-, 
cing plan whereby $18 cash |l 

vances P tor. will be mad e th,, , Uhate 
.fall by the bi K cooperative. W. A., m all 
, Spooner, secretary m an.g-r f - 

f()rmt , fjnancia , a f. 

and declared that 
^^ ^j CQ . 

a ^ Berkeley 

agency onJy h ,r- 

ca. Under 

ic- level ex- 



transaction auto- i justified. 

August 13, 1937 

Comr.unity Grape Corporation - Lodi Branch 
Secured commitment $-575, 000 

The Sub-Committee of the General Finance Committee 
approved of a commitment of $575,000 to the Community Grape 
Corporation to be utilized approximately as follows: 

Advances of 20^ a gallon on old wine of 
approximately 650,000 gallons - $130,000 

Advances of 50^ per proof gallon for old 
Commercial Brandy in new oak cooperate - 30,000 

Advances of 20^ a gallon on 1937 vintage 

sweet wine on approximately- 1,750,000 

gallons - 375,000 

Advances of 50^ a gallon on 1937 distilla 
tion Commercial Brandy in new oak cooperage 
on approximately 75,000 gallons - 37,500 

Total $572,500 

Upon receiving proper authority from the borrower, wine may 
be released to the Fruit Industries, Ltd. sublet to receiving an assign 
ment of tne proceeds thereof from the borrower accepted by Fruit Industries, 
Ltd. The old sweet wine is to be released upon payment of 20^ a gallon 
for 1937 vintage on the basis of & a gallon. All brandy is to be released 
on the basis of 60f^ per proof gallon. It is understood that Fruit Indust 
ries, Ltd. is to remit to the Bank the full proceeds or sui sales and thai 
v: t excels ever and above the release value is to be credited to the bor- 
rcwers account. 

This loan is to be further secured ty an assignrent of the 
proceeds to be derived froin the sale of wine and brandy now held by Fruit 
Industries, Ltd. having a value of approximately 275,000. 

San Francisco Chronicle 
October 24, 1970 

CRITCHFIILD. Burin Heraee In 
St. Helena. Oct. t3. 1970. Burke 
Horace Critchfield. loving hue- 
band of Helen B. Critchfield. 
brother of Harry Critchfield of St. 
Helena. Catherine Edwards of 
Baytown. Texas: also survived bv 
numerous nieces and nephews: a 
native of North Dakota, aoed 82 
years; vice president of the Bank 
of America of San Francisco for 
many veers. 

Services will be held Monday. 
Oct. 26. at 2 p.m.. at the MORRI 
lena. Inurnment. Mountain Virw 
Cemetery, Oakland. ._ ._ 

Oakland Tribune 
October 27, 1970 

Services Held for 
B. H. Critchfielcf 

Funerat services were held centege of the grape crop mto 
in St. Helena yesterday for a storage commodity, grape 
Burke H. Critchfield, 82, for 
mer Bank of America vice 
president and operator of a 
tree farm near St. Helena, 

brandy, thereby avoiding de 
struction of almost -half the 
crop and providing growers 
with a financial return. i 

who died last Friday after a After retiring from the 
brief illness. Otfr. *, /f ?o Bank of America, Btr ditch- 
Following graduation from field developed a n a i 1 -I e s s: 
North Dakota State Universi 
ty, Mr. CritchfieW began a 

long and distinguished career 

grain storage bin during- 
World WarE to save on criti 
cal materials needed in the 

in banking, agricultural eco- war effort. His bins provided 
nomics and government serv- storage for more than 25 mil- 
ice. H worked for the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture be 
fore joining the Bank of 

lion bushels of grain in the 
wheat belt. 

A resident of Berkeley for 

America in 1927. more than 20 years, Mr. 

During the depression he Critchfield p u r c h a s e d the 
helped save California grape Glass Mountain Ranch on the 

growers and wineries from 
suffering great financial loss 
es by working with industry 
representatives in financing a 
program to save the grape 
crop. Under his leadership, 
Mr. Critchfield organized a 
program to divert a large per- 

Silverado Trail north of St. 
Helena in 1953 where be estab 
lished the Critchfield Tree 
Farm and Nursery, where 
customers could cut their own 
trees. He sold the tree farm in 

He was a member of the 
Scottish Rite Bodies of Fargo, 
North Dakota, the alumni as 
sociation of North Dakota 
State .University and the Uni 
versity of Minnesota, where 
be did graduate work. He also 
belonged to the Common 
wealth Club of San Francisco. 

He is survived by his wid 
ow, Helen B. Critehfield, of St. 
Helena; a "brother, Harry- M. 
Critchfield also of St. Helena; , 
a sister, Mrs. Catherine L. 
Edwards of Baytown, ^Rfexas;- 
He also leaves several nieces 
and nephews, including Burke 
M. Critchfield, an attorney 
and ThomasQ. Critdtfteld, a- 
dentist, bett of Ltvettaore;: 
William Critcnflekt of Berke- 
ley and Mrs. Efizabeth Hernr 
of Orinda. 

Services were held at the- 
Morrison Funeral Chapel ji 
St. Helena. 

Carl Wente 
Photograph courtesy of Bank of America Archives 


Carl P. Wente was born into a prominent California 
wine making family on March 27, 1889. He was the son of 
Carl H. Wente, who established the winery near Livermore, 
and the brother of Herman L. and Ernest A. Wente, who 
continued it under the name Wente Bros. An account of the 
winery is given in the interview in this series with Ernest 

Carl P. Wente became a banker, his special field being 
agricultural economics. He served as president of the Bank 
of America from 1952 until his retirement in 195^ and as 
chairman of the executive committee until 1963. 

When representatives of the Regional Oral History Office 
talked with Mr. Wente in 1968, asking advice on the wine 
industry series and discussing a projected series on 
California agricultural economics, he suggested that Burke 
H. Critchfield be among the interviewees. Because of that 
suggestion, and because it was the intention of this office 
to interview Carl P. Wente himself, the following speech on 
the economics of the grape and wine industry is included as 
a supplement to Mr. Critchfield 1 s interview. Mr. Wente died 
on February 1, 



Remarks of Carl Wente, retired President, Bank of America 
Livefmore Wine Week Dinner, October 2^ t 1962~~ 

Generally, when a speaker appears before a trade or 
industry group, .he tells his audience what they would like to 
hear. It pleases them and it makes the speaker feel good too. 
Generally too, he is prone to tell them how successful their 
organization has been and paints a glowing picture .of its future. 
Today I am going to somewhat reverse the usual trend. I am not 
going to tell you how well you have individually or collectively 
done, nor will I forecast your future. I simply thought that I 
would review the past- 
It has been said that when a man reminisces, that s a sign 
that he is growing old. I m aware of that and I hope you won t 
feel that I am purely reminiscing. I thought that a look back 
into the history of grare growing in California since 1918 might 
be interesting, particularly to those of you who shared in the 
two severe depressions and some of the boom years in between and 
following them. 

Just to set the stage, I would like to remind you that the 
18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was 
ratified in January 1919 and prohibited the manufacture, sale 
and transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes. 
This law was repealed in 1933. 

When this law became effective, the wineries in the state 
naturally had to close up and go out of business. That still 
left the wine grapes. What to do with them was a. problem. 
There was a quirk in the law that permitted the householder to 
make 200 gallons of wine for his own use and consumption. As 
roughly 85^ of all grapes in U.S. were raised in California, it 
appeared that this "home brew" wine would take care of the 
California wine grape cron. Host of the market for wine grapes 
was in the eastern states where the heavy wine-drinking population, 
who were of European extraction, lived. As grapes had to be of 
a tough skinned variety to stand this long 3000 mile trip, many 
of varieties grown in California could not be shipped. Thousands 
of acres of beautiful white grapes were pulled out, as such 
varieties could not be shipped. The owners got nothing in the 
way of compensation for their losses. The wineries that folded 
up, sold their machinery and equipment for junk. Terrific losses 


were taken. The growers of that day had not learned how to run 
to Washington and ask for helr>. California, tinder today s 
version, might well have been declared a disaster area. 

Those growers who had black wine graces and particularly 
those with tough black skins found that the Eastern demand was 
strong for their crops. Some white varieties that would ship 
and could be mixed with the dark juice blacks were likewise in 
demand at better prices than the wineries in California had 
paid. In the boom years of 1920 and 1921 following World War I, 
raisin graces and fresh table grapes felt the effects of 
Prohibition wine demand, and as a result all prices on such 
varieties went up. Raisin prices that had been less than $100 
per ton before the war started now found ready sale at about 
$300 per ton. 

What generally happens when fruit prices go sky rocketing, 
happened in the San Joaquin Valley where most of the shipping 
wine grapes and raisin grapes were grown. First the grape men 
increased their plantings. By the time that the war was over 
the raisin grape acreage had. increased from about 100,000 acres 
to about 200,000 and the tonnage had gone up to about a million 
tons, or double pre-war tonnage. 

The main acreage was in Thompson seedless, as this variety 
grow fast and on most any kind of land that water could be put 
on. Everybody got in on the act. Everybody suddenly found he 
could or thought he could, get rich on raising raisins. Doctors, 
grocers, professional men and white collar workers got themselves 
a vineyard. All you had to do was to get a piece of land, put 
in a well and pump and plant the cuttings. And for awhile, you 
could sell the newly planted vineyard at a handsome profit. 
Fortunes were made in a few years, and you didn t have to wait 
for many crops to d.o it, that is in some cases. But the day of 
reckoning came too soon! Before I get too far along let me 
relate to you an experience I had along this line with one of 
these hoped to get rich growers. 

I was in the bank one day when a doctor customer told, me 
he needed some money and would like a mortgage loan. On 
questioning him I learned, that two years before he had purchased. 
80 acres of land and had planted it to Thompsons. I had him 
give the legal description and location of the property. That 
evening after closing time I drove out to see the vineyard. The 
land had not been too well levelled and had. some streaks of 
rather coarse sand running across it. The vines had mostly all 
taken root but had made a very uneven growth. My inclination 
was to reject the loan, but due to the fact that the applicant 
was one of our bost customers, I decided to talk to the Chairman 


of our Advisory 3oard. He was a retired farmer and had success 
fully farmed in the County for years. I asked him if he would, 
go with me to look at the doctor s vineyard and see if he 
couldn t find an appraisal that would .justify a loan. So out 
we went and we walked over the vineyard. When we got back to 
the car, the Chairman stood there on one foot kicking the dirt. 
So I asked him what about it. He said, "No." "Why" says I. 
"Well, sir," says he, "if this vineyard had a shower of rain 
and a shower of manure every other day, it would still never 
make a vineyard." No loan! And before long, no vineyard! 

When the fight was on in 1918 before the election to vote 
on Prohibition, wineries and grape growers did all in their 
means to bring about a favorable vote of the electorate. I can 
recall how large signs were placed in wine grape vineyards 
facing the roads which read: "This vineyard will be destroyed 
by Prohibition." Nevertheless the grape men lost. Apparently 
the saloon haters and the "prohibes" were more persuasive with 
the public. It was a great day for Carrie Nation and her 
temperance workers. 

While practically all of the wine grapes in the Livermore 
Valley were pulled out, the growers in San Joaquin Valley 
prospered. Many vineyards there before the war and before 
Prohibition could have been bought for around $100 per acre, 
or at about what the bare land was worth. The same property in 
1921 was sold for 1500 per acre and went still higher in some 
areas. By 1923 it was not an uncommon experience to sell the 
vineyard for $1000 per acre. The purchaser could go to an 
Eastern grape buyer and get an advance of up to $200 to $250 
per acre, secured, by a contract on next year s crop and use the 
money to make a down payment on the purchase t>rice of the 
property. I saw a lot of deals of this kind made. It seemed 
fantastic but property changed hands at these prices. Remember 
income taxes then were not what they are today and. most of the 
profit that was made was kept by the seller. 

Along in August the Eastern buyers would show up and wander 
around the wine grape districts. Fresno and. Modesto were the 
headquarters for these men. They were, may I say, an odd group. 
Some used, their own money to buy grapes or had connections back 
East from which to draw on. Only a few had an office or a place 
of business. In Modesto, the lobby of the hotel was the head 
quarters of these buyers. A carload of grapes would be packed 
and loaded and an Order Bill of Lading would be issued to the 
buyer. Then the active trading started. The car might have 
been billed to Pittsburgh but the final buyer would have it 
rerouted to New York City or some other final distination. Most 
of these transactions were completed in the hotel lobby or on a 


street corner. Papers were passed and the sale generally 
finalized in the bank under a letter of credit, with draft 
drawn under it, accompanied by the Bill of Lading. This kind 
of trading was booming in 1920, 1921 and 1922. A bad break in 
the market came in 1923 and gradually got worse and never did 
recover. The Eastern buyers, these lobby-street corner traders, 
left town and did not return. The selling of grapes, of course, 
did continue but along the orthodox method. 

Vfhile the Post War I boom lasted, the usual prosperity 
signs prevailed. In those days around Fresno, the newly rich 
man wore a silk shirt and he generally drove a Cadillac. New 
clubs and hotels were built, as were many beautiful homes on 
farms and vineyards. Stores did a flourishing business and 
money flowed like water and everybody had it. 

Let me just give you an example of what dollars a vineyard 
could produce. I recall a twenty-acre vineyard near Exeter 
planted to Alicantes. The crop was sold for cash. There were 
twelve tons per acre and they were sold roadside at $80. It 
was not unusual at all to sell the crop on the vines for $500 
acre vineyard run, which meant that the crop was not graded 
before weighing. 

Table grapes also felt the general boost in grape prices. 
Emperor vineyards in the Dinuba district sold for as much as 
$2500 per acre. In a few cases, depending on location and 
improvements, price per acre was even higher. The same vine 
yards after the big bust in 1925 and 1926 could be bought for 
$250 to $300 per acre. The improvements alone were trorth more 
than the sales nrice. But what is a fine dwelling worth on 80 
acres of vineyard, that will not pay for the care of the land? 

You may wonder what the banks or insurance companies did 
who may have had loans on these properties. I know what the 
Bank of America did because I was in charge of some of these 
valley banks. And I also know what most of the so-called 
independent banks did because I had the job of cleaning up 
after they could no longer stand the strain and they asked us 
to take them over. A few of these banks were sold but most of 
them were rescued by the Bank of America, converted to branches, 
upon our agreement to pay depositors in full. How do I know? 
I vaa dere, Cholly. 

Before we get too far along, let me tell you about some 
of the community efforts that were made to prevent a bust or 
to salvage a situation. Following the boom days of the early 
1920s, the raisin growers needed help. The California Associated 
Raisin Conroany, which had. been a successful cooperative, had. 


gotten itself into financial difficulty, apparently figuring 
that high prices and prosperity would last forever. The banks, 
who were the largest creditors to the tune of some $8-1/2 million, 
agreed to malce further advances and save a bust if the Co-op 
were reorganized. This was done and Sun Maid Raisin Growers 
was the succeeding company. To keep the growers tied in, a 
campaign was put on in the valley to not only keep the members 
of the old Go-op but get all raisin growers to join. Management 
felt that as long as this was a co-op, a better sales job could 
be done if most of the tonnage was controlled. Sun Maid Growers 
is still operating. 

While all this was going on, the vines that had been planted 
a few years before now were in full bearing and more raisins 
were made than could be marketed. So another effort was made 
by the growers. California Vineyardists Association was organized 
in 1926. This organization was to assist growers in the problem 
of overproduction and. aid in the orderly marketing of fresh 
grapes. A part of the scheme was to let about half of the croD 
hang on the vines.. This idea did not materialize as only about 
6Q% of the growers signed up. Apparently the grape men felt 
that it was a good idea not to pick the Cranes if they could 
not be sold but they cooled off when some of their granes were 
to be left hanging. 

And so things rocked along until 1933 when the Prohibition 
Act was repealed. What wineries were left were not in good 
physical shape and lacked good management. It was almost 15 
years since these wineries were in business. A few had made 
sacramental wines and some others were alleged to be operated 
by bootleggers. In any event, the wineries were not properly 
equipped, nor did they have the best kind of grapes to crush. 
Most of the graces available were of the kind that shipped well 
to the East but would not make the fine quality wines California 
had been famed for. Wine under ordinary conditions requires 
some years of aging. However, with Repeal came a demand for 
wine, and new wines were dumned onto an eager market. 

Now that Prohibition no longer prevailed, and wine making 
was a legal business, and good grapes scarce, the planting of 
wine grapes was a natural sequence. When the 1938 cron season 
came in sight, it looked like a million ton crush. Growers, 
vintners and bankers again got together and evolved a scheme 
to prevent some of this excess tonnage from going into wine. It 
was agreed that 55$ of the crush, for which the growers were to 
receive $15 per ton, was to be earmarked for wine. ^% was to 
go into brandy and high-proof spirits, and. for this portion the 
grower would receive ^12.50. The thinking here was that brandy 
and spirits could be held in warehouses and, unlike wine, 
without handling would improve with age while awaiting a favorable 
time to sell. 


Again the Bank of America took a lead in this scheme, not 
only in management but in financing it. We loaned, about 36 
million while the HFC and other banks put up about 1-1/2 million. 
The Bank of America and Security First National, Los Angeles, 
each had charged, off ^1 million on the raisin loan. Such losses 
are not soon forgotten. I might add that this d.eal showed a 
good profit when the brandy and spirits were sold out in 19^2. 
Not only that but the -pi 5 price the grower got would probably 
have been $3 to $5 1* there had been no plan. 

In the fall of 1939 it again looked like a big crop coming 
on. It was obvious that with the brandy deal only one year old 
it could not be repeated so soon. A few of the smaller wineries 
who were under-financed had to dump their wine to get money. 
Some of their neighbors felt that this raw, unaged wine would 
hurt their sales. They proposed to the Bank of America that 
this group form a co-op called Central California Wineries, 
which the bank could finance, and then this would, put them in 
a position to compete with their larger competitors. This would 
enable the Central California Wineries to pay the growers a 
decent price and to hold the wine which might otherwise be 
dumped before it was ready for market. Again the Bank of 
America put up most of the $4- million necessary to launch this 

Before the C.C.W. started buying, grapes sold for $6, and 
with the C.C.W. paying $8 to $11 per ton, the price climbed to 
15. Naturally to carry and age the wine the Bank had to advance 
another $4 million. Some of the non-members, jealous of the 
growers and vintners in the co-op, complained of price fixing. 
The Department of Justice in Washington was prepared to serve 
papers on officers of the C.C.W. and the Bank for an anti-trust 
suit. Then Schenley Distilleries bought a couple of C.C.W. 
wineries and the government case fell on its face. The bank s 
help to the wine industry during that critical period has not 
been forgotten. The big wineries and. most of the others are 
Bank of America customers. 

Let me say here that in the coast counties when Prohibition 
struck there were many small wineries operating. Some of them 
owned vineyards but the bulk of the grapes were produced by 
mostly small growers who sold their crops to the local wineries. 
Most of these growers had no other crop, and when the wineries 
closed there was no other market for their specialty grapes and 
with most of the vines pulled they had little income. The 
Livermore Valley growers did. not fare as well as the San Joaquin 
Valley growers. With no irrigation, and. most of the land, rolling 
hill land, with the vines off, the land reverted to grain or 
pasture. What was a flourishing business, not only for the 
people who were directly interested, but for the Valley generally, 
was gone overnight. 


Now when I think back and remember how raisin grape 
acreages went from $150 and $250 per acre up to $2000 and back 
down again to around |200 all in a ten-year period; when I 
knew a vineyard that netted the owner an annual return of over 
$100,000 for five or six years, and then saw the land sold for 
$50,000; when I smelled beautiful Emperor grapes fermenting on 
the vines in the fall of 192^ because there was no market; when 
honest growers borrowed on their lands and then offered deeds 
if the Bank would release them of their obligations; when I 
recall all these things and review the ups and down, I am glad 
I was there, but I can t help but wonder if history will repeat 
itself again. I don t think so. I don t want to experience it 

And if any of you present growers think you have r>roblems, 
cheer up and be thankful that you were growers in the last 25 
years, which r>eriod was a Sunday School nicnic compared to the 

San Francisco Chronicle 
Wednesday, February 3, 1971 

Noted Civic Leader 

Banker Carl F. Wente Dies at 81 

Carl F. Wentc, an interna 
tionally - known banker and 
San Francisco civic leader, 
died Monday at his home, 60 
Normandie terrace. 

Mr. Wente, retired presi 
dent of the Bank of America, 
was 81. 

Private funeral services 
were held yesterday after 

A native of Livermore, Mr. 
Wente began his banking ca- 
eer as a messenger with the 
Central Bank of Oakland on 
April 1, 1907. The next year 
he joined the First National 
Bank of Livermore, staying 
there until joining the Bank 
of America (then known as 
the Bank of Italy) in 1918. 

He became president of the 
First National Bank of Ne 
vada in 1934 and three years 
later returned to the Central 
Bank of Oakland as presi- 


Mr. Wente returned to the 
Bank of America as senior 
vice president in 1943 and 
served as president from 
1952 until his retirement in 

Although a member of the 
family, Mr. Wente had no 
connection with the opera 
tions of the Wente Brothers 

He once said: "My father 
always said he wanted one 
son to be in the wine business 

63 Yeart in finance 

and one to be a banker. I m 
the banker." 

Mr. Wente was extremely 
interested in youth and de 
voted much of his time to Ju 
nior Achievement and Boy 
Scouting. In 1954 he was 
awarded the Silver Antelope, 
scouting s highest award for 
service to boyhood. 

He served as president of 
the State Chamber of Com 
merce in 1954 and 1955. 

Mr. Wente s wife of 55 
years, Jessie, died last July. 

After his retirement from 
the presidency of the largest 
bank in the world, Mr. Wente 
busied himself with a variety 

of civic activities, in addition 
to his work with youth. 

In 1961 he served as chair 
man of the Mayor s Commit 
tee for Municipal Manage 
ment. In 1955 he received a 
special Treasury Department 
citation for his work as vol 
unteer chairman of the Unit 
ed States Savings Bonds pro 
gram in California. 

In business activities after 
leaving the bank, Mr. Wente 
served as a director of Fore 
most Dairies, Inc., Pacific 
Gas and Electric Company 
and Fireman s Fund Insur 
ance Company. 

Mr. Wente was appointed 
to the State Fish and Game 
Commission by the then - 
Governor Earl Warren in 
1950, and reappointed 101955 
by Governor Goodwin J. 

He served as a commis 
sioner on that body . until 



Mr. Wente was a lecturer 
in management at the Gold 
en Gate College, and had 
been a substantial financial 
contributor to the institution. 

A man of vision, Mr. Wente 
predicted in 1954 that Califor 
nia would be the largest state 
in the nation in population by 
1970. He said the state, with 
a population in 1954 of 12.5 
million, would have 21 mil 
lion by 1970, and he was not 
far off the mark. California s 

population is expected to b 
20,218,000 by July 1. 

At tiie Bank of. America, 
Mr. Wente had actually re 
tired at age 60, in 1949, as 
senior vice president. But in 
1952 he was called out of re 
tirement to become president 
on the death of L. M. Gianni- 

Always interested in all as 
pects of life in San Francis 
co, Mr. Wente served for sev 
eral years as chairman of 
the board of trustees of the 
San Francisco Bureau of 
Governmental Research. 

"All San Franciscans have 
suffered a loss in the death of 
Carl Wente," Mayor Joseph 
L. Alioto said last night. "He 
was a dynamic force in the 
building of the Bank of 
America and the economic 
growth of our city. 

"His personal activities 
reached beyond the business 
community to numerous con 
servation programs and to 
youth service organizations, 
where he is fondly remem 
bered," Alioto said. 

Mr. Wente is survived by 
his sisters, Mrs. George F. 
Tubbs and Mrs. Edwin Hage- 
marm, and a brother, Ernest 
H. Wente who operates the 
winery all of Livermore. 

INDEX Burke H. Critchfield - Carl Wente 

Acampo Winery & Distilleries, Inc., xii, 37, 38, 55 

Adams, Leon, 49 

Adams , R. L. , 3 

Agnew and Voechel, 19 

Alioto, Joe [Joseph L. ], 44 

Almaden [Winery] , 42 

Alta Winery & Distillery, 3?, 55 

Anti-trust action threat, xiv-xvii 

Baccigaluppi , Harry, 12 

Bank of America, iii-xvii, 8-63 passim 

Barbieri, Henolds, 34 

Bare, J. V., ix, x 

Barengo , Dino , 38 

Barlotti, James A., vi 

Beaulieu [Vineyard], 12, 13, 51 

Benoist, Louis A., 4-2 

Bentley, Robert I., 6 

Beringer Bros. , 16 

Berkeley Bank for Co-Operatives, viii, x, 27 

Biddle, Francis, xiv-xv, 52 

Bisceglia, Alphonse, 39-40 

Bisceglia Bros. Wine Co., xii, 28, 3?, 39, 55 

Blauer, William E. , 25 

brandy, x, 15-16, 22, 23, 26, 2?, 35, 45, 61-62 

Caddow, Harry, 49, 51 

California Associated Raisin Co., 60-61 

California Fruit Exchange, 7, 9 

California Grape Products, 12 

California Grape Prorate, 14 

California Lands [Inc.], 32, 33 

California Packing Corporation, 6 

California State Chamber of Commerce, vi, vii 

California State Department of Agriculture, 2, 3, 18 

California State Division of Markets, 4 

California Vineyardists* Association, 10, 61 

California Wine Association, 21, 22 

Canners League of California, 4, 6, 7, 14 

Capital Company, xiv, xvi, 32 

Capper, Senator [Arthur], 43 

C.C.W., see Central California Wineries, Inc. 



Cella, John Battista, 28, 32, 43 

Cellar, Emanuel, vi, xiv 

Central California Wineries, Inc., ill, xi-xvii, 1?, 23, 26, 

2?, 29-48, 62 

Central Winery, Inc., xii, xvi, 37> 55 
Christian Brothers, 26, 41-42 

Colonial Grape Products Co. of California, 37 55 
Community Grape Corporation, viii-x, 26-27 
Conn, Donald, 9-10, 49 
Cresta Blanca [Winery] , 33 
Crest View Winery, 37, 55 
Cribari, Angelo, 25 
Cribari, Louis, 24 
Critchfield, Mrs. Bruke H. , v 
Critchfleld, Burke M. , v 

Daniel, John, Jr., 48 

Da Roza Winery, 37, 55 

de Latour, Georges, 51 

Di Giorgio Fruit Corporation, 30, 37, 38, 40, 55 

Di Giorgio [Joseph], xii, xiii, 40-41, 42 

Dunn, William T. , 47 

Dunning, Allen, 30 

Earl Fruit Company, xii 

East Side Winery, 27 

18th Amendment, 57 (See Prohibition) 

Erdman, Henry E. , 3 

Evans , Reuben , 9 

Farm Credit Administration, 8 

Farmers & Merchants Bank, Lodi, 38 

Federal Intermediate Credit Bank, v, 8, 9 

Federated Growers, 6 

Franzia Bros. Winery, 37, 38, 55 

Frasinetti, J. & Son, 37, 55 

Frericks, Andrew G. [Andy], 19, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 46 

Fresno Winery, Inc., 37, 55 

Fruit Industries, ix, 9, 10, 13, 27, 33 

Fulton Co-op, 27 

Gallo [E. & J. Gallo Winery], 30 
Gallo, Ernest, 21-22, 30 
Gallo, Julio, 21-22 


Garrett & Company, vii 

Garrett, Paul, vii, xi 

Gaumnitz, Ed, 4-4 

Giannini Agricultural Foundation, v 

Giannini, A. P., iii, v-vii, xi, 11, 12, 13, 18, 20, 22, 2 

25, 33, 3^, 36, 4-0, 4-6-4?, 48, 4-9 
Giannini, Prank, 23, 24, 28, 29, 31 
Giannini, Mario [L.M.], 8, 10, 11, 13, 22, 33, 34-, 35, 36, 

37, 39, *K), 41, 4-3, 46-4?, 4-8 
Gock, A. J. , xii 
Golan, Louis [Lon] , xiii, 4-2, 4-6 
grain storage bins, 4-2-4-3, 4-6 
Grape Products Company, 40 

Greystone Winery, xii-xiii, xvi-xvii, 28, 39, 4-0, 4-1 
Growers Grape Products Assn., 14-, 19, 2?, 29 
Gundert, J. B. , xii 

Hadsell, Dan, 4-5 
Heaton, Ralph [S.], xiii, 24-, 31 
Hecke, George, 5, 6, 10 
Rowland, Wallace, xv 

Italian Swiss Colony, 21, 30, 33, 4-6 
Italian Vineyard Company, 37, 38, 55 

Johnson, Hugh, 50 

Jones, Jesse, 19, 20, 21, 26 

Jones, Lee, 13 

Lagomarsino, Fred, 24, 28, 29 

Land Bank, 8 

Lanza, Horace, 12, 16 

Lawrence Warehouse Company, ix, 42 

Lescher, Edwin, 20 

Martini, Louis [M.] winery, Kingsburg, xii, xiii, xvi-xvii, 

28, 39, 4-0 
Mead, El wood, 4- 
Mills, James, 5 
Mitchell, Frank, 25 
Mokelumne [Winery] , 39 
Mondavi, Cesare, 38 
Morello, E. , 37, 55 
Morrish, Will F. , 11-12 

f ; w 


Morrow, A. R. , 13 

Mount Tivy Winery, xii, 37, 38, 43, 55 

National Distillers, 46 

Padre Winery, 12, 33 

peaches, 2-4, 6-7 

Perelli-Minetti, A. & Sons, 27 

Petri Cigar Company, 35 

Petri, Louis, 43 

Petri [Wine Company], 33, 35 

Peyser, Jefferson, 49 

Pirrone, P. & Sons, Winery, 37, 38, 55 

Powers , Lucius , 38 

Prati, Enrico, 21, 22 

Prohibition, 21, 57-61 

Prorate, iii, x-xi, 14, 18-21, 22, 23, 26-27, 45 

prunes, v, 5-6 

Raisins, 15, 18, 23, 29, 44, 52, 58, 60-61, 62, 63 
Reconstruction Finance Corporation, xi, 7, 12, 18, 19, 20, 

26, 47 

Regional Agricultural Credit Corporation, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 
Roma [Wine Company], 28, 30, 33, 35 
Roosevelt, Franklin D. , xiv 
Rosenberg Brothers, 6 
Rosenstiel [Lewis S.] ^2 
Rossi, Edmund A., 12-13, 21, 31 
Rossi, Robert D. , 21, 31 
Russell, Calvin L. , xii, xiii, 23-23, 28, 29, 31 

St. George Winery, 37, 55 

San Joaquin Winery & Distillery, Inc., 37, 55 

Sbarboro, A[lfred] E. , 21, 22, 31, 35, 47 

Schenley Distilleries, Inc., xvi, 26, 33, 42, 46, 62 

Security First National Bank, 23, 28, 38, 62 

Setrakian, A. , 17 

Shewan- Jones, 46 

Sinsheimer, Bernard, 40 

Sinsheimer & Co., 40 

Sinton, Silas D. , 40 

Smith, Russell, 40, 43, 4? 

Snodgrass, David E. , xv 

Spooner, W. A., viii, x 


Steer, Lloyd, 6 
Stevenson, Adlai, 49-51 
Sun Maid Raisin Growers, 6l 

Tapp, Jesse, xvi, 46 

Taylor, Walter, 27 

Tenney, Lloyd, 10 

Thompson, J. Walter, Company, xi, 48, 49 

Transamerica Corporation, xvi, 21, 22 

Tubbs, Chapin, 1?, 39 

Tubbs Cordage Co. , 17 

Tulare Winery Company, xii, 23, 24, 28, 37, 38, 55 

Union Oil Company, 6 

University of California, 2, 3 

U.S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 

U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1, 3 

United States District Court, xiv 

United. States grand jury, xiv-xv 

United States House of Representatives, vi, xiv 

Vai, Jimmy, 33 
Vieth, Fred, xii, 38, 43 
Village Winery, Inc., 37, 55 
Voechel, Bill, 19, 23 

Wallace, Henry, 17-18, 43, 44 

Warren, Earl, 19 

Wente [Bros.], iv, 12, 13, 18, 36, 56 

Wente, Carl P., 8-9, 12, 13, 56-63 

Wente, Carl H. , iv, 56 

Wente, Ernest A., 56 

Wente, Herman L. , 48, 56 

Wilk, Mount K. , xii, xiv, 31, 44, 52 

Wilson, Bob, 50 

Wilson, E. W. , 7, 8, 10 

Wine Institute, ill, vi-viii, xi, xvi, 18, 19, 20, 48-51, 

Woodruff, Ed [E.D.], 32, 33, 3>+ 

Young, Governor C. C. , 3 


Wines Mentioned in the Interview 

burgundy, 12 
Cabernet, 12, 13 
sauterne, 12, 13 

Grape Varieties Mentioned in the Interview 

Alicante, 60 

Emperor, 60, 63 

Thompson Seedless, 16, 23, 58 

Andrew G. Frericks 

Andrew G. Frericks, 1958 
President and Manager, St. George Winery, Fresno 



Andrew G. Frerlcks was interviewed at his home in St. 
Helena, California, on August 1, 1972, after the editing, 
indexing, and final typing of the interview with Burke H. 
Critchfield and the talk by Carl P. Wente had been completed, 
and Professor Amerine s introduction had been written. 
Originally intended merely as an informational discussion, 
the interview developed and is included here because it adds 
a succinct unified account of matters discussed by Mr. 

Mr. Frerlcks, at 82, proved to have retained a clear 
recollection of the succession of events. The transcribed 
interview was sent to him on August 16. It was read to him 
(his eyesight is poor); he added several paragraphs of 
amplification, deleted a few speculative statements, and 
returned it on August 22, 1972. 

Ruth Telser 
Project Director 
California Wine Industry 
Oral History Series 

31 August 1972 

Regional Oral History Office 

bQ6 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

In a letter of September 14, 1972, Mr. Frericks requested that the following 
statement be appended to his interview: 

"I sign the enclosed release with some reluctance because I had 
to supply the information entirely from memory of events that 
occurred some thirty-five years ago and there may be inaccuracies. 
Had the complex documents and many contracts been available to 
refresh my memory I am sure that a much better description of the 
programs discussed could have been provided. Possibly a footnote 
to my statements would point out that it is entirely from memory 
and is much too brief." 


(Interview Date - August 1, 1972) 


[This interview with Andrew G. Frericks on the 
prorate, Central California Wineries, Inc., and 
Central Winery, began after a preliminary discussion 
of the wine industry s problems of the 1930 s and 
the organization of the prorate.] 

Frericks: The first opposition came from the growers and 

wineries here in this north coast country, because 
they felt that the whole program was to benefit 
the raisin growers in Central California. They 
didn t think that their grapes should be partly 
converted into brandy, see that they were wine 
grapes and they should be made into wine that there 
was no surplus of that particular type of grape. 
That s where the opposition came in. 

Teiser: This is the prorate you re speaking of? 

Frericks: Yes, the prorate. I don t know what information you 
already have on the whole prorate program. 

Teiser: Some. Dr. Maynard Amerine spoke of it. 
Frericks: Yes, Dr. Amerine was quite familiar with it. 
Teiser: They had to do some quality judging, he said. 

Frericks: I think what he was referring to there is probably 
in connection with the brandy that was produced. 

Teiser: Yes, that s it. 

Teiser: What was your official position with it? 

Prericks: Well, originally, when the program started, I was 

given the Job of supervising the brandy production. 
And that revolved around, attaining warehouse space 
for the brandy, supervising the production in the 
various distilleries of the state, providing for the 
insurance, all the details surrounding production 
of a tremendous amount of brandy. 

Then later Joe Carey, who was the original zone 
agent for the grape proration zone No. 2, (which 
handled the whole program) was relieved of his duties, 
and I was put in as zone agent. Which was in the 
latter part of the program. 

So I had both the Job of zone agent and manager 
of the Grower s Grape Products Association, which 
was the corporation set up to handle the brandy, and 
to handle the loans that the banks made to the 
association to finance the production of this brandy. 

So I ran the show until the fall of well, the 
program was originally set up for two years, but at 
the end of the first year the continuance was really 
impossible because of the litigation that developed, 
principally from these north coast wineries and 
growers . 

They went to the legislature and had a bill 
passed, which relieved them from any obligation 
under the Prorate Act. So, the program committee 
and the industry generally decided that it would be 
useless to try to carry this thing on for another 

After it was decided that no further action 
could be taken on the Prorate Act there were a 
great many meetings held in various parts of the 
state by representative growers and vintners as to 
what could be done in the coming season. It appeared 
another large crop could be anticipated, and in order 
to save what had been accomplished something had to 
be done. Nothing concrete came forth from these 
meetings. So we had to hunt around, and try to find 
another program that could be done, to provide some 
relief which was needed for a succeeding year. 


Frericks: That was how the Central California Wineries 

project got started. It was a continuance, really, 
of the original prorate program and the Grower s 
Grape Products Association which held the brandy. 
But it revolved around the organizing of all the 
wineries who were in bad financial condition into 
one group. And the bank, primarily the Bank of 
America, was interested in promoting this thing 
because they wanted the object, of course, was to 
save the industry from complete collapse and to 
maintain grape prices that would save the growers. 

So, then this let s see, I have to go back a 
little bit when this program began, all the 
wineries in the Central Valley, in the San Joaquln 
County area and Lodi and Fresno, and three or four 
or five wineries (the principal ones) in Southern 
California, all joined this group. 

And the grapes were purchased from the growers- 
well, this is a little bit involved. First of all 
there were a lot of contracts entered into between 
this organization of Central California Wineries, 
the banks, and the non-participating wineries. The 
whole thing was tied together through a series of 

The grapes were purchased by the corporation, 
Central California Wineries, Inc. They were then 
turned over to the processing wineries who were 
involved, who converted them into wine. 

I ll have to go back a little to give you a 
clear picture of what happened. I m trying to think 
of the mechanics of this thing. 

The corporation, Central California Wineries, 
Inc., purchased the grapes, paid the grower for the 
grapes and the processor a fee for converting these 
grapes into wine, and then the processor or winery 
had the option of purchasing this wine back for 
resale. The wines processed were stored in field 
warehouses operated by independent field warehousing 
organizations, and the warehouse receipts issued 
by the organizations were then used as collateral 
for loans made by the bank. 

Well, it was a control device, primarily, to 
provide that the growers would obtain a fair price 

Frericks: for their grapes and be sure of getting their money. 
Because previous to that time, the industry was in 
such a state that when the grower sold his grapes 
to the winery, he didn f t know if he was going to get 
paid or not. 

Many of the wineries were in such financial 
condition that they stalled the growers off. They 
couldn t pay them and when they did they paid them 
very little for the grapes. 

But under this arrangement the growers were paid 
what was then considered a fair price, considering 
the market conditions generally. 

Well, that was a fairly successful operation 
for that year. 

Teiser: What was the relationship between Central California 
Wineries and Central Winery? 

Prericks: Central California Wineries was the corporation that 
was set up to manage the whole project of converting 
the grapes into wine and paying the growers for their 
grapes. Because of inadequate storage capacity in 
some wineries, as well as [inadequate] facilities 
for preparing the wine for market, it was thought 
desirable to purchase a large winery or wineries 
which would provide the additional storage space 
required. Inasmuch as this would be a joint venture 
participated in by some Central California Winery 
members, but not necessarily all, the second corporation, 
Central Wineries, Inc., was established. The management 
for the committee that administered this project, this 
corporation [Central California Wineries], the board 
of directors let s say, which included especially 
the larger wineries in that group, decided that they 
could not depend on the individual wineries to market 
the wines after they were produced, or to carry on 
the whole project successfully. 

The first winery that was purchased was the 
winery that belonged to Martini* in Kingsburg. 
Central Wineries purchased that winery. Then they 
acquired the Greystone cellars that now belongs to 
Christian Brothers. The Bank of America had a big 
mortgage on that winery, so Central Winery corporation 
took over that winery as a base of operations in this 
[St. Helena] area. 

*Louis M. Martini 


Frericks: Those were the only two wineries that Central 
Winery actually owned, purchased and owned. Both 
of them are quite large and could accommodate the 
taking in of a lot of wine and processing it and 
turning it into a high grade product and a marketable 

Teiser: They were good wineries, were they? 

Frericks: Oh yes. They were both good wineries, modern and 
all. [But] that thing developed into kind of a 
battle. The members of the organization as well 
as the banks said, "What are you going to do with 
all this wine? How are you going to market it?" 
So there was a lot of by-play between the members of 
the board of directors of the Central California 
Wineries, Inc., which was really the parent company, 
and there was a lot of disagreement as to policy 
and procedure. 

At about this time the Department of Justice 
began investigating this set-up as to whether or 
not anti-trust violation might be involved. 

Well, all the wineries in the state, Including 
those that were not members of Central California 
Wineries, were involved because there were contracts 
entered into between all these groups as to how this 
wine was going to be disposed of, who was going to 
take a certain percentage and market it and some 
of these contracts were rather loosely drawn. So there 
may have been some justification on the part of the 
Department of Justice. I cannot comment on the exact 
nature of the investigation because at that time I 
was no longer directly connected with the Central 
California Wineries association. 

Prior to this Department of Justice investiga 
tion, Lou Golan* entered the picture, and through his 
activities with the bank,** he sold them the idea that 
he was the guy who could take over this whole project 
and market the wine successfully. And then contracts 
were entered into with him to take the wines that 
Central Winery had taken in for processing and 
refining and finishing, and he would take over the 
whole marketing project. 

*Louis Golan 
**Bank of America 






Frericks i 

Well, that s when I got out of the deal. I 
was no longer involved after that because, oh, 
there was a lot of bickering and there was a lot 
of in-fighting among the members, and the thing was 
set up in such a way that I was supposed to go with 
Golan and undertake the supervision of the processing, 
the preparing of the wine for market. I didn t like 
Golan. Besides that, I had other interests. So I 
dropped out of the picture, and that was my final 
connection with the whole project. 

As I told you, we talked to Mr, 
his account jibed with yours. 

Critohfield, and 

Well, Critchfield and I really developed this 
Central California Wineries deal. Vie sat down in 
a Chinese restaurant one day and laid the whole 
thing out on a tablecloth, Just how we were going 
to do it. And of course I was still involved then 
with the prorate operation, the brandy operation. 
But he went down to Fresno and rounded up all the 
wineries who were down there and were broke and were 
ready to do anything in order to keep themselves in 
business and carry this thing out successfully. 

Then eventually, as the thing grew and developed 
into a working organization, I got out of the brandy 
end of it because it was almost all over then. The 
brandy was all housed, and it was just a matter of 
selling it. 

Well, the war came along about that time and 
that really took the brandy out of the market because 
the big distillers all jumped in and bought brandy. 
So the brandy operation was very successful. I mean 
the growers all got paid, a reasonable amount for their 
interests in the thing. 

Was Central California Wineries, in the long run, 
successful? Did the growers and the winemakers 
gain by it do you think? 

I think they did, until they got to squabbling about 
the marketing. If Central Winery had never been 
organized, I mean if the two wineries hadn t been 
purchased, and if Golan hadn t entered the picture, 
I think the smaller wineries would have automatically 
sort of worked together and finally solved their 


Frericks: And if the Department of Justice had stayed 
out of the picture, that also would have helped. 
But when the thing got into that confused state, 
and litigation was impending which would have 
involved the bank, then the thing really collapsed. 

Final Typist: 

Marilyn Fernandez 
Keiko Sugimoto 

22, 972 




M., 94720 

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17 25 

St. He^iesia, Ca, 94574 

/jhone. 707/9^3-4469 


INDEX - Andrew G. Frerlcks 

Amerine, Maynard [A. ] 71 
Anti-trust investigation, 75, 77 

Bank of America, 73, 7^, 75, 77 
Brandy, 71-72, 76 

Carey, Joe, 72 

Central California Wineries, Inc., 71-77 

Central Winery, Inc., 71, 7^-76 

Christian Brothers, 7^ 

Critchfleld, Burke H. , 76 

Golan, Louis, 75 i 76 

Greystone cellars, 7^, 75 

Growers Grape Products Association, 72, 73 

Martini, Louis M. , winery, Kingsburg, 74, 75 

Prorate, 71-73, 76 

Raisins, 71 

United States Department of Justice, 75, 77 

Ruth Teiser 

Born in Portland, Oregon; came to the Bay Area 

in 1932 and has lived here ever since. 

Stanford, B. A., M. A. in English; further graduate 

work in Western history. 

Newspaper and magazine writer in San Francisco since 

1943, writing on local history and business and 

social life of the Bay Area. 

Book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle 

since 19A3.