SAN FRANCISCO — California vintner Robert Mondavi is mounting a scientific-sociological-religious battle against American "fanatics . . . neo-prohibitionists" whom he claims threaten to take this country into another era of enforced alcohol abstention.
"Wine," the 74-year-old wine maker told a $125-a-plate dinner of the American Institute of Wine & Food on Tuesday night, "is the healthful, temperate, civilized, sacred mealtime beverage recommended in the Bible . . . the liquid praised for centuries . . . it has been with us since civilization began."
American wine lovers are threatened by what he sees as a growing movement to toss--by misstatement, legal, tax and other means--barriers between alcoholic beverages and the people who enjoy them.
The apparent aim, he said, is another era of prohibition, 54 years after repeal in 1933 ended a 13-year experiment that was marked by one of the most violent periods in American peacetime history.