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Vintage Photo: 33,100 Gallons of Wine Flushed Into L.A. Gutter in 1920 at Start of Prohibition

February 1920: 33,100 gallons of wine being flushed into the gutter outside the North Cucamonga Winery in Los Angeles at the start of the National Prohibition on intoxicating drink. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
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What do you do when the new law of the land forbids the sale of alcohol, and you're in the wine-making business? At the start of 1920, when prohibition went into effect in the U.S. that's the exact predicament one Los Angeles-area winery faced, and they opted to get rid of the wine. Specifically, they poured it all out into the gutter.

The City of L.A.'s history of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles explains the Italian—and winemaking—origins of Olvera Street:

By 1869, Los Angeles had established itself as California's wine center, producing four million gallons of wine annually. Until 1877, Olvera Street was known as Calle de la Vignas or Vine Street because of the prevalence of wine making in the area.

The North Cucamonga Winery was leased by Giacomo and Giovanni Vai (they'd taken it over in 1899 when it was the Valla-Tononi Winery).

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In this photo dated February 1920, over 30,000 gallons of wine are being flushed out of the winery and into the gutter. What a waste, right? While bootleggers, bathtub gin, and speakeasies flourished, by 1933, Prohibition was officially repealed, marking an end to just over 13 dry years in our nation's history. We'll drink to that!