California Historical Articles
San Francisco - Notable Wineries By District And Region
( Originally Published 1955 )
A number of wineries are located in San Francisco and the city is therefore treated as a separate district.
California Wine Association, San Francisco
This famous old company has a long history, dating back to 1884, when a number of California's well-known wineries joined to form the original California Wine Association. Membership has varied over the years, but the company has always played an important part in the California wine industry. In 1929 it was reorganized as Fruit Industries, Ltd., but reverted back to its former name in 1951.
For many years A. R. Morrow was the dominant figure of the company. The memory of this "grand old man" of California viticulture will always be cherished and his name is perpetuated in one of the company's well-known brands. Sydney C. Wortley is president of the California Wine Association, Fred Snyde is chairman of the board, while Mario Perelli-Minetti, of the well-known winegrowing family, is general manager.
The California Wine Association is composed of eleven cooperative and other wineries to which some zaoo winegrowers contribute their grapes. The wineries are located in the four major wine districts, one in Sonoma, specializing in dry table wines (Sonoma County Cooperative Winery at Windsor), six in the LodiSacramento district, mostly for sherry, tokay, and brandy (Cherokee Vineyard Association at Acampo; Community Grape Corporation, Lodi Winery, Inc., Rancho del Oso Winery, all at Lodi; Florin Winery Association at Florin; Woodbridge Vineyard Association at Elk Grove), two in the Fresno-San Joaquin district, especially for muscatel and grignolino (Delano Growers Cooperative Winery and A. Perelli-Minetti & Sons, both at Delano), and one in the Cucamonga district for port and other sweet wines (Cucamonga Growers Cooperative Winery at Ontario).
In this manner the Association can produce the various types of wine where it is most advantageous to do so with regard to regional suitability and quality. The main offices of the Association are in San Francisco, together with a vast winery for blending, finishing, aging, and bottling purposes.
California Wine Association is one of three largest wine producers of the state and its wines enjoy a national distribution, the brands varying somewhat according to region and locality.
The Association's top-quality table and dessert wines are marketed under the Ambassador District brand. These wines derive not less than 75 per cent of their volume from grapes grown in the district designated on the label, assuring that they are produced from vines famed for each particular type. Sound standard-quality table and dessert wines are marketed under various brands, of which Eleven Cellars, so named because of the eleven winery members of the Association, is the most prominent. Other brands for sound standardquality table and dessert wines are Guasti, Ambassador Reserve, F.L, and Greystone.
The more important of the featured wines of California Wine Association are the following:
Table wines: Ambassador District RED: Cabernet, Grignolino, Zinfandel, and Burgundy; WHITE: Dry Sauterne, Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Riesling, Rhine, and Chablis; ROSE': Grignolino Rose;
Dolly Madison: Red and white specialty wines produced from 100 per cent vinifera grapes and marketed mostly in the East;
Eleven Cellars RED: Zinfandel, Burgundy, and Claret;
WHITE: Sauterne and Chablis;
ROSE: Vin Rose;
Sparkling wines (Bottle-fermented) : Ambassador Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy;
Sparkling wines (Bulk process) : Ambassador Champagne, Sparkling Burgundy, and Spumante; Greystone Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy; Calwa Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy;
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Ambassador District: Pale Dry Sherry, Sherry, and Creme Sherry (sweet), Port, Muscatel, and Tokay;
Eleven Cellar-s: Pale Dry Cocktail Sherry, Sherry, and Cream Sherry, Port and Ruby Port, Muscatel, Tokay, and White Port;
Ambassador-F.L: Dry and Sweet Vermouth.
Pacific Coast Brands, San Francisco and Livermore
Steve Form, the founder of this enterprise, was born in Capronno, Varese Province, Lombardy, Italy, in 1898. He came to the United States as a youngster and started in San Francisco as a bus boy at twenty dollars a month. He worked in that capacity and as waiter and cook in various well-known San Francisco restaurants, steadily working his way up. He then went into the restaurant business for himself and for some years ran the Fly Trap on Broadway, which enjoyed the patronage of many of the city's judges and attorneys.
Later Steve Forni branched out into the wine business and founded his Pacific Coast Brands in 1932, first operating a winery in Stockton with a finishing plant in San Francisco. In 1945 he purchased vineyards and a winery in Livermore which he now operates in conjunction with a San Francisco winery which he acquired in 1941. He is assisted in the family wine business by Mrs. Forni and their son Raymond.
Table wines from Livermore Valley grapes are the specialties, while Champagne (bulk process) is also produced. Aperitif and dessert wines are purchased, aged, and marketed, of which the Vermouths, dry and sweet, are featured.
The quality wines are marketed under the Forni brand and include Sauterne, Chablis, Burgundy, Zinfandel, and Claret from the Livermore Valley as well as Champagne and Sherry, Port and Muscatel. Secondary brands are Blanco Vista and Cal-Best for table and dessert wines, the latter also for Champagne.
Signature Vintners, San Francisco
Signature Vintners, part of the Petri Wine Company, was established for the marketing of the highest-quality table, aperitif, and dessert wines.
A panel of three connoisseurs and experts personally selects the wines, which bear the Signature brand with the added "Tasters' Selection" indication on the label. The panel is composed of: Harold Price, well-known winetaster and judge, founder and past president of the San Francisco Wine and Food Society;
Morrison Wood, wine connoisseur of long standing, founder of the Wine and Food Society of Chicago, author of the syndicated newspaper column on unusual cookery "For Men Only!" and of the popular wine cookbook With a Jug of Wine;
Russell S. Codman, Jr., co-founder of Boston's famous gourmet society "Club des Arts Gastronomiques," president of the French Center in New England, author of Vintage Dinners, and consultant on foreign and American wines.
The table wines selected are all produced from California's northern coastal region and can come from any of the fine table-wineproducing sections such as Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley, Livermore Valley, Santa Clara Valley, Contra Costa County, and others. The sparkling and aperitif and dessert wines originate in the San Joaquin Valley region. Signature Tasters' Selection wines include:
RED: Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Red Pinot, Zinfandel, and Burgundy;
WHITE: White Pinot, Grey Riesling, Dry Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Rhine Wine, and Chablis;
ROSE: Vin Rose.
Aperitif and Dessert wines:
Royal Velvet Port (with extra aging in oak casks) and Tawny Port; Pale Dry Sherry, Amorino Sherry (medium sweet, of the Spanish Amoroso type), and Cream Sherry; Marsala (medium sweet, darker than sherry, somewhat spicy in character and one of the few produced in the state) ; Golden Muscatel (from the Muscat of Alexandria grape).
To this group of wines also belong the Louis IF brand Vermouths, both dry and sweet. Although not selected like the others by the tasters' panel, this brand is used for certain high-quality specialty wines.
Signature Sparkling wines (bulk process) : Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy.
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