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Plummy And Spicy With A Hint Of Boom Times

Plummy And Spicy With A Hint Of Boom Times

Which would you rather drink to: good times or bad? In early 1992, with the nation not yet sure it had recovered from an economic slump, Dan Gainey of Gainey Vineyard in California's Santa Ynez Valley decided to bring out a cheap table wine labeled Recession Red. The $5-per-bottle vintage even had a graph on the label that charted economic decline. It sold O.K.--but its novelty wore off in an improving economy.

A few months later, down the road at Firestone Vineyard, tire-company scion Brooks Firestone was inspired by Gainey's idea. He decided to try a more upbeat appeal, even though he used the same so-so class of grapes and also charged just $5. His wine is called Prosperity Red. He commissioned an artist to come up with a label design that would reflect the hopeful mood of America at the start of 1993: a WPA-style illustration of a worker in the vineyards, reminiscent of the Happy Days Are Here Again Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration.

Result: In 1993, the 260-acre winery sold 10,000 cases of Prosperity Red. Not bad for a vintner who sells a total of 80,000 cases of wine a year. And in March, 1994, the label was inducted into the Library of Congress' permanent collection of historically significant artwork.