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by Fred McMillin
Happy Labor Day
The year was 1863. London-born Samuel Gompers arrived in the USA at age 13. Just one year later he became the first registered member of the Cigar-Makers' International Union. Among his many subsequent accomplishments was helping the establishment of Labor Day as the workingman's holiday.
On this workingman's holiday, my wine must have a label that honors America's working man. There's none better than that created by Courtland Johnson and Mark Oliver of Santa Barbara. It shows a vineyard worker proudly carrying a basket of grapes in the morning sun. It adorns the Prosperity Red wine of the Firestone Winery, Santa Ynez Valley. The brand was introduced by owner Brooks Firestone six years ago. The blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon was an immediate success, at a workingman's price of $5. Today the blend is lighter, very drinkable, and it remains a bargain at $6.
Prosperity Red, California Non-vintage
The Santa Ynez Valley's First Yankee Laborer—He was a remarkable blacksmith-carpenter. So remarkable, in fact, that the dreaded buckaneer Hypolite de Bouchard forced Joseph Chapman to sail with his pirates. However, during the sacking in the Santa Barbara area, the New Englander escaped to the "Santa Inez" Mission. Here "Blond Joe's" skills were treasured leading ultimately to his planting 4,000 vines to become California's first USA viticulturist!
Note: For more about the winery, see the April 27, 1998 WineDay titled "Firestone Milestones".
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