Vino Sano Grape Bricks

At a talk I gave a week or so ago, I mentioned Vino Sano Grape Bricks. That led some in the audience to follow the thread, and I’ve turned up a few more fun photos on this subject.

For those who don’t know, a grape brick is a dehydrated block of grape juice and pulp that was sold–quite legally–during Prohibition for people to make their own wine at home. Instructions couldn’t tell you how to make wine–that would be illegal–so they told you how NOT to make wine. Don’t add sugar and yeast and don’t let it sit in a warm place for 21 days or it might ferment! There were other brands too, but Vino Sano was the leader.

Here are a few other interesting illustrations I found. A want ad for salesmen to sell the product. This also revealed the price of a grape brick ($1.25), something I hadn’t known. 

And here’s another advertisement:


Published in: on May 16, 2018 at 2:27 pm  Comments (1)  
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Grape Bricks? You’ve Got to be Kidding . . .

Since a major character in my mystery, THE IMPERSONATOR, is a bootlegger, I’ve been boning up on all aspects of Prohibition. The single best book I’ve read is Daniel Okrent’s LAST CALL. I have found a goldmine of information in this book, much of which I have used in THE IMPERSONATOR and will continue to use in future Roaring Twenties books. So expect the next few weeks’ blogs to focus on fascinating facts about Prohibition–things you never knew and couldn’t have made up!

The Do-Not-Try-This-At-Home Wine Kit: Buy a Vino Sano Grape Brick (package above), a solid, dehydrated block of grape concentrate, stems, pulp, and skins, and read the accompanying label with detailed instructions about what you should NOT do with it–be sure NOT to add sugar and yeast or leave it in a dark place or “it might ferment and become wine.” And we certainly wouldn’t want that, would we, wink, wink. These grape bricks were advertised, quite legally, in newspapers and magazines (TIME magazine of August 6, 1928 had a large ad) and sold in various flavors: port, sherry, burgundy, etc. Gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond was quoted: “It sounds like a good racket to me.” Perceptive fellow, Legs.


Why was it legal? It contained no alcohol and home manufacture of wine, as long as it was not for re-sale, was not against the law. As the Vine-Glo ad says, “For home use only.”

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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