Manuscript Examining Forgotten Role of Los Angeles in California Winemaking Announced as Winner of 2016 California Historical Society Book Award

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Author to receive $5,000 advance and publication of his manuscript in both print and e-book format by the California Historical Society and Heyday.

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The California Historical Society is deeply honored to recognize the significant achievements of Dr. Thomas Pinney in reclaiming this significant, complicated layer of California viticulture history.

The California Historical Society (CHS) and Heyday have announced the winner of the 2016 California Historical Society Book Award: "The City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles," a rediscovery of where California’s wine industry began and a chronicle of its one-hundred-year history as the leader of the Golden State’s viticulture industry.

The author, Thomas Pinney, is an emeritus professor of English at Pomona College whose nearly lifelong passion for wine has resulted in renowned publications about winemaking in both California and the United States as a whole. He will receive a $5,000 advance, and his manuscript will be published in both print and e-book format by CHS and Heyday.

“For many years, from the time of California’s first settlement, California wine meant wine from Los Angeles, city and county both,” says Pinney. “That historical fact has been almost completely forgotten, and hardly any material evidence of it survives. I have had great pleasure in reconstructing the story. There is certainly much more to be known, and I hope that others will follow where I have begun.”

"The City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles" addresses the neglected story of winegrowing in the city and county of Los Angeles, where the industry began in California and where it remained of major importance for more than a century. From the mission era, when “California wine” meant Los Angeles wine, to the 1950s, when vast acreages of agricultural land were paved over and built upon to accommodate the post–World War II boom, this comprehensive account of an industry—and, indeed, a way of life—aims to repair a serious omission in public perception about the history of wine in the state.

“The California Historical Society is deeply honored to recognize the significant achievements of Dr. Thomas Pinney in reclaiming this significant, complicated layer of California viticulture history. As his manuscript suggests, we should know Los Angeles for wine as much as we know it for oranges, oil, and Hollywood,” says Anthea M. Hartig, PhD, executive director and CEO of the California Historical Society.

Steve Wasserman, executive director and publisher of Heyday, adds, “Heyday is thrilled to act as midwife to the birth of Thomas Pinney’s indispensable book. Publishing his book will help readers become aware of what has been for too long a well-kept secret among scholars: the essential role of Los Angeles in giving life to one of California’s pillar industries, now given its due in the meticulous storytelling of one our most respected teachers and writers.”

The California Historical Society Book Award is awarded annually for a book-length manuscript that makes an important contribution to scholarship and deepens public understanding of some aspect of California history. The work must adhere to high scholarly standards and must be lively and engaging to general readers as well. In addition to conventional works of historical scholarship, other genres that are considered include: biographies, collections of letters or essays, photographic or artistic studies, creative nonfiction, and other ways of informing the mind and engaging the imagination in an understanding of California’s past.

Finalists for the 2016 California Historical Society Book Award included: "Islands of Discovery, Unfulfilled Dreams, and Forgotten Treasures: The True Story of the Aborted 1939–1941 Channel Islands Biological Survey," by Corinne Heyning Laverty (Manhattan Beach); "Crush: Wine and California from the Padres to Paris," by John Briscoe (San Francisco); and "It Was Here: San Francisco’s Lost Art Gem," by Hiya Swanhuyser (San Francisco).

The California Historical Society Book Award allows CHS to continue its rich publishing tradition, which began in 1874. Heyday, founded in 1974, continues to be an important partner and collaborator with CHS. Together the organizations publish books on topics of California history that strive to transform California’s understanding of itself and shape its future.

About the Author: Thomas Pinney is the author of "A History of Wine in America," the definitive, two-volume account of winemaking in the United States, and "The Makers of American Wine."

About the California Historical Society: The California Historical Society, founded in 1871, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to make California’s richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives. We hold one of the top research collections on California history, which includes over 35,000 volumes of books and pamphlets, more than 4,000 manuscript collections, and about 500,000 photographs documenting California’s social, cultural, economic, and political history and development, including some of the most cherished and valuable documents and images of California’s past. Learn more at

About Heyday: Heyday is an independent, nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution. We promote widespread awareness and celebration of California’s many cultures, landscapes, and boundary-breaking ideas. Through our well-crafted books, public events, and innovative outreach programs we are building a vibrant community of readers, writers, and thinkers. Learn more at

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