Good Morning Gentle Readers,
I found this in a box in the garage just now. It's a promotional bar mirror for a long-defunct wine cooler. Not exactly Roadside Americana, but I collect such things. It's in good condition and it might be worth as much as fifty dollars, but probably more like thirty.
California Cooler was originally marketed in the late 1970's by a couple of friends from Lodi, Michael Crete and Stuart Bewley. It was the first commercial wine cooler and was pretty successful with annual sales in excess of 100 million a year. The friends sold the company in 1985, just a few years before the wine cooler craze ran out of steam.
Soon after the sale, liquor giants Gallo and Seagrams jumped into the wine cooler market. Remember Bartels and Jaymes? That cost California Cooler a lot of market share. But what killed the wine cooler business was an act of CONgress.
In January 1991, CONgress jacked wine excise taxes from $.17 per gallon to $1.07 per gallon. That's a five fold increase in tax and it meant the demise of low end wine blends. And that, my friends, is why modern Boone's Farm is a flavored malt beverage.