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Wine Queens
by Tina Caputo
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 2.3
After years of struggling to prove itself to the rest of the world, it seems the California wine industry has finally arrived. There's no disputing the quality of California wines, and never before have they enjoyed a finer reputation. But at what price?

Somewhere in the uphill struggle to world-class status, the California wine industry lost a very important tradition. The French still have it. Bovine festivals still have it. Even garlic, cherry and apple growers still have it. But when autumn rolls around in California wine country, the folks are left empty-handed. Without representation. Without hope. Without...a queen!

Things weren't always this dark. In the 1950s and '60s, wine queens reigned over the California vineyards like welcome spring showers. Each October, at the California State fair in Sacramento, vintners chose a local lovely to represent them as their queen during National Wine Week. Some queens were blonde, some brunette. Some even studied dramatic arts. All, of course, were beautiful.

For seven glorious days, the newly crowned Vintage Queen would take her position as wine's goodwill ambassador, making appearances at vintage festivals, attending dinners and proclaiming the excellence of California wines. But perhaps the most important duty of the Vintage Queen was posing for stunning publicity photos, personifying the glamour, grace and charm of California wines. Even some 40 years later, the message comes through loud and clear.

It's time for these photographs to charm the world all over again! Let's raise a toast to these lovely ambassadors of the grape and honor their contribution to the success of the California wine industry as it stands today. In fact, why stop there? Let's be the first to shove all the nineties politically correct crap aside and elect new wine queens to lead us proudly into the 21st century!

Long Live The Queens!


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Everything grows large in California, they say! The beautiful 1950 Vintage Queen has the proof, as she playfully prepares to drink a giant glass filled with California Champagne.

The charming 1950 Vintage Queen pauses from her grape picking duties to flash the lucky cameraman a smile.

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Sultry! 1951 Vintage Queen Jeri Miller pauses during the wine grape harvest to adorn her hair with grape clusters. No wonder the grape was America's third ranking tree fruit that year!

Beautiful Jeri Miller, 1951 Vintage Queen, toasts National Wine Week and wonders where she left her house key.

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Diane Bagshaw, 1953 Vintage Queen, wears the traditional grape picking outfit favored by field workers of the day.


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Dee Hardy, 1957-58 Vintage Queen, has a sunny disposition in spite of the grape vine growing out of her head.

The lovely Dee Hardy, a 23-year-old San Francisco dramatic arts student, is pictured here trying to figure out where she left her glass of Chardonnay.
Dreamy Dee Hardy, 1947-58 Vintage Queen, prepares to sip California Champagne while bubbles dance around her head in admiration.

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Wine Queen June Adler reigned over National Wine Week, October 10-17, 1959. She is truly the picture of glamour!

1959 Wine Queen June Adler raises a toast to California wines after a day of hosing down tanks in the cellar.

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Making wine is hard work, but Marilyn Lockway, 1963 National Wine Queen, makes it look easy!

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