The Franzia Wine Family
The great experiment, Prohibition, became law on January 16, 1920, and would last until December 5,
It was likely the arrival of irrigation-district water that caused Giuseppe to build a house on the
1915 was a watershed year for Giuseppe and Teresa. All of their children were born, and their vineyard had become productive. With years of experience at wine-making, the family started a winery.
It was likely a time of worry for the family as well. Their native Italy had joined the fight in World War I on April 26, 1915, in alliance with Great Britain, France, and Russia. Their kin were far away and in danger’s way. The Franzias would have sought any news of events in the war. There must have been a sense of excitement in the family when the United States joined the war on the side of Italy in March of 1917 and exhilaration on November 11, 1918, when the allies were victorious.
Giovanni Battista Franzia had to register for the Selective Service when the U.S. entered the war. The registration, dated September 12, 1917, shows him born July 2, 1881, age 37, and his mailing address, P. O. Box 12, Stockton. It shows him employed at the Foppiano Station of the Central California Traction Company, a local railroad, in the Morada District north of Stockton [La Maccia]. The brothers still farmed in La Maccia, with Giovanni handling the leased orchard land north of Stockton and Giuseppe, the vineyard in the south county.
The war ended as the great epidemic of influenza was killing millions around the world. In San Joaquin County, men shaved off their beards and mustaches as mandated by public health officials. People were required to wear masks to go out in public as the cemeteries in the county mushroomed with fresh graves. As the great epidemic waned, the Franzias must have been thankful in the spring of 1919, but death can come more casually. Giovanni Battista Franzia had developed ringworm, which itched terribly. He scratched it and developed blood poisoning [septicemia], the great fear of the physical laborer in those years.
The disease is characterized by fever, chills, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, and confusion as it progresses. Giovanni died March 4, 1919, at thirty-seven years of age, leaving a widow, Candida, and three children. Giuseppe had lost his partner. Giovanni’s share in the farming operation would be sold by Candida to the father of Dr. Grillo of Stockton.
Yet more trouble loomed for the wine family. In 1919 an amendment to the U.S. constitution was proposed to make alcoholic beverages illegal. After much debate, the bill passed both houses of Congress. President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the amendment bill, but his veto was overridden that same day, October 28, 1919, by the House of Representatives and by the Senate the following day.