Once Prohibition became law on January 16, 1920, many wine producers in California got out of the wine business and converted their vineyards to orchards or sold their land. A constitutional amendment had never been repealed before, so the drastic move seemed like a reasonable way to cut their losses.
But other vintners began to promote and sell grape juice and other non-alcoholic products. Some enterprising vintners began producing non-alcoholic wine bricks. The compressed and concentrated brick was to be rehydrated with one gallon of water to make reconstituted grape juice.
The Volstead Act made it against the law to produce, distribute, or sell alcohol products. But the law had a loophole big enough to drive a truck through. Under Section 29 of Volstead Act, consumption of alcohol was not expressly prohibited. Up to 200 gallons could be produced privately for consumption at home.
Wine was culturally the drink of choice for many Italian and French Americans and wine bricks became a legitimate business opportunity for Chicago and Detroit racketeers acting as distributors. They cornered the market. The underworld began buying the bricks by the ton and distributing them nationwide by rail. The pre-Prohibition price was $9.50 per ton; by 1924, the price was $375.
In 1933, the Volstead Act was repealed and America went wet. The bottom fell out of the bootlegging business and the thirteen-year-long nightmare of gang warfare on America's streets ended. Those winery owners who weathered the storm and supplied organized crime with their raw material became rich, increased their landholdings, and saved America's wine industry.