Prohibition devastated the wine industry in California, a sector that Italian immigrants had played an integral role in developing. A handful of vintners, including Santo Cambianca, who had established a winery in Lincoln Heights in 1917, survived by manufacturing grape juice, sacramental and medicinal wines. Today, Cambianca’s winery, the San Antonio Winery, is the oldest winery in the city.  Other wineries, in spite of Prohibition, sold “wine bricks” or grape concentrate, which was legal, and essential to produce wine for home consumption or bootlegging.

Giacomo and Giovanni Vai, who owned the North Cucamonga Winery, launched an extensive promotional campaign for their Padre’s Wine Elixir Tonic and Padre’s Bitter Wine.  The tonics, they pledged, would be recommended without hesitation by health professionals.
This is one of the thousands of rare and one-of-a-kind photographs in the Italian American Museum’s collection, the only of its kind in the region. 
To learn more about our collection, donate photos or other artifacts, or support the collection’s preservation, visit or call 213.485.8432.
The mission of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles is to foster understanding of Southern California’s diverse heritage through research, historic preservation, exhibitions and educational programs that examine the history and continuing contributions of Italian Americans in multi-ethnic Los Angeles and the United States.
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