California Historical Articles
Los Angeles - Notable Wineries By District And Region
( Originally Published 1955 )
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGION
THIS,THE THIRD Of the great wine-producing regions of California, covers the southern part of the state, from Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties down south to the Mexican border. Its over-all climate is warm, though less hot than that of the San Joaquin Valley in the great inland valley region. It is especially noted for its dessert wines, while good table wines, notably of the red varieties, and champagnes of quality are also produced.
Southern California consists of a number of separate wine-producing districts of which the Cucamonga district in the southwestern tip of San Bernardino County is by far the best known. It is followed by the Los Angeles district in Los Angeles County with some well-known wineries. Ventura County has a single winery in the Ojai Valley.
There are two further districts in the region, the Riverside district in the northwest section of Riverside County adjoining Cucamonga and the Escondido district centering around the city of that name in San Diego County. No wineries of more than local importance are located in the last two districts, although some very good dessert wines are produced there, notably muscatels in the Escondido district, where the Muscat of Alexandria grape attains its highest quality. It was in San Diego County that the Franciscan missionary Padre Junipero Serra planted, according to tradition, the first Mission vines in 1769.
It may be noted here that one of the best-known Mexican wineries is located at Santo Tomas, south of Ensenada in the state of Baja California del Norte, Mexico.
LOS ANGELES DISTRICT
The Los Angeles wine-producing district spreads out from the city of Los Angeles northwards to San Fernando in the San Fernando Valley and takes in to the east of Los Angeles the section of the county covering San Gabriel and Rosemead on south to Whittier.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY AND CITY
Santa Fe Vintage Company, Los Angeles
The largest and by far the most important winery in the Los Angeles district and located in downtown Los Angeles. It is owned and operated by the Guerrieri family, well-known winegrowers and wine makers for many years. Lewis Guerrieri is the general manager of the company as well as president of the Guerrieri-owned Santa Fe Winery at Kerman in Fresno County.
The Guerrieris were in the wine and grape business in Perugia, Italy, for generations before Giuseppe Guerrieri came to the United States in 1903. Giuseppe Guerrieri first worked for Italian Swiss Colony in San Francisco and in 1905 moved to Guasti in Southern California, where he became wine maker and superintendent for the Italian Vineyard Company. In 1915 he went into business for himself in Los Angeles, operating the Ramona Wine and Liquor Company. A few years later he purchased the Old Mission Winery located in Los Angeles right by the Los Angeles River and in I9I9 he bought the old Santa Fe Winery at Santa Fe Springs, California.
In 1935 Giuseppe Guerrieri founded the Santa Fe Vintage Company in its present location. Late that same year his son, Lewis Guerrieri, who had already had personal winery experience and around 1927 had operated the California Mission Vintage Company, became associated with his father. Together they operated the Los Angeles winery and gradually developed the enterprise, acquiring vineyards in the Cucamonga district in San Bernardino County and in Riverside County. In June 1953 the family purchased the large Morello Winery at Kerman, west of Fresno, since renamed the Santa Fe Winery, to take care of the increasing demand for their wines.
Since Guiseppe Guerrieri passed away the entire family business, including the vineyards and wineries, has been owned and operated by Lewis Guerrieri, assisted by his two sisters. Henry Hutter is the wine maker at the Los Angeles winery and Ted Yamada resident manager and wine maker at the Kerman plant.
While the Santa Fe Vintage Company does some business outside of California, it is mainly interested in the Southern California market. Dessert wines of sound standard quality are the main products and these, as well as some table wines, are featured under the popularly priced Santa Fe Three Crown brand, enjoying a wide distribution in Southern California and adjoining districts. A few higher-priced dessert and table wines are marketed under the Santa Fe "Supreme" brand.
The following wines are produced under the Santa Fe Three Crown label:
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry, Dry Sherry, Cocktail Sherry, Sherry, and Cream Sherry; Port, Ruby Port, and Tawny Port; Muscatel, Tokay, and White Port;
Table wines: Burgundy, Zinfandel, and Claret; Sauterne.
Wines available in limited quantity under the Santa Fe "Supreme" label include:
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry and Sherry; Port and Tawny Port; Muscatel and Tokay.
Table wines: Burgundy and Sauterne.
A number of Santa Fe Berry Wines are available as follows: Blackberry, Boysenberry, Loganberry, Red Currant, and Raspberry. A Concord Grape wine is also marketed.
San Gabriel Vineyard Company, San Gabriel
This famous old winery is located near the historic San Gabriel Mission, some ten miles northeast of the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
Giovanni Demateis, the founder, was descended from a family long engaged in winegrowing in their native Asti in Piedmont, Italy. He chose Southern California as an ideal location to produce wines, comparable to those of his homeland. He planted his first vineyards in the Cucamonga area in 1888, founding thereby the family wine enterprise. He spared no trouble in obtaining the best, and oak casks for wine aging were purchased which had come around Cape Horn from the Black Forest in Germany. These casks are still in use and stand also as a tribute to the winery's founder.
After Giovanni Demateis passed on in 1929, the family concern was run for many years by his widow, Margherita, and their son Charles John Demateis. After Mrs. Demateis died in 1952, operation of the enterprise devolved on Charles John and his brother Robert A. Demateis, who continue the tradition of fine wine production set by their parents.
In following a change of policy it was decided to produce only aperitif and dessert wines, specializing, as before, in aged sherry and port wines, for which the winery had become especially well known.
Old San Gabriel is the featured brand, as of old, and under this label the following wines are available:
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry and Sherry (medium) ; Port; Muscatel, Tokay, and White Port.
Cucamonga, one of the few places in California to retain its old Indian name, is said to be derived from "Cucamongabit," meaning "Land of Many Springs." Cucamonga Indians were living in the district when the Spaniards came and built their El Camino Real. In 1839 Don Tiburcio Tapia, who became president of the Ayuntamiento, or City Council, of Los Angeles and the city's first alcalde, obtained the Cucamonga grant from the Mexican Government. It is known that Don Tapia also planted grape vines on the ranch.
Cucamonga was the scene of many turbulent events in its early days and its history makes fascinating reading. Gradually it passed from the violent and romantic Wild West stages to an equally romantic but more peaceful era of agriculture and industry. Magnificently situated in the San Bernardino Valley in the extreme southwestern corner of the county of that name, it lies at the foot of the grandiose range of the San Gabriel Mountains with Cucamonga Peak dominating the scene from an altitude of some 8000 feet.
The Cucamonga winegrowing district has become increasingly famous over the years. It centers around the town of Cucamonga, straddling Highways 66 and 99 and spreading north to Etiwanda and Alta Loma and south to Ontario, Guasti, and the Riverside County line. San Bernardino County, thanks to its Cucamonga district, with its thirty-nine active bonded wineries, rates second in that respect, exceeded only by Sonoma.
The Cucamonga district is noted for its red table wines, especially grignolino (often bottled as Grignolino Rose, for the wine is naturally light in color), zinfandel, and chianti: These should be consumed young, as they mature early, owing to the warm climate in which the grapes are grown. Cucamonga is also well known for its quality champagnes and aperitif and dessert wines, including ports, sherries, and vermouths.
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
Cucamonga Winery, Cucamonga
This winery claims to be the original one of the district containing the Cucamonga name, and has contributed a great deal to making the Cucamonga name famous for its table wines, not only in California, but also in the Eastern part of the country. It is mainly owned and operated by the Accomazzo family.Alfred (Fred) Accomazzo and his brother Eduardo, natives of San Desiderio in the Asti region of Piedmont, Italy, came to California as youngsters in igoa. They engaged in various trades in San Francisco and in the Los Angeles neighborhood, including running a winery in Glendale. During Prohibition they turned to the real estate business and with Repeal the Accomazzos became permanently identified with the wine industry.
The Cucamonga Winery was founded in 1933, when Alfred Accomazzo joined forces with several partners to operate a winery in the heart of Cucamonga. Vineyards were acquired and gradually extended. In 1935 Louis Gotto, one of the partners, sold out his interest to Joseph Ettor, the man who became mainly responsible for developing the winery's business in the East and who contributed greatly to making the Cucamonga name famous as synonymous with high-quality wines from that district.
The Accomazzo family owns half the Cucamonga Winery enterprise, the other being shared by the Joseph Ettor estate and by an Eastern interest. Fred Accomazzo is president and general manager of the company and Sam Kurland vice-president. Arthur Accomazzo, Fred's son, is secretary and sales manager, and his cousin Edmund E. (Ed), a son of Eduardo Accomazzo, who acquired an interest in the winery in 1948 but who died four years later, is vineyard superintendent and treasurer. Mauro Accomazzo, another son of Eduardo, has a retail outlet in Los Angeles and takes care of the winery's distribution in that city and surrounding area.
It is interesting to note that some of the Cucamonga Winery's vineyards are irrigated and some are not. While the north coast counties vineyards are non-irrigated and those in the great inland valley region mostly are, those in Southern California are often mixed. The Guide has refrained from indicating whether particular vineyards are irrigated or not in areas where either might be the case, because, as the Accomazzos also point out, the idea that nonirrigated vineyards produce better grapes in warm climates is not always correct. In extremely dry years or in a succession of dry years non-irrigated vineyards will produce crops with grapes lacking the necessary juices to make good wines. On the other hand irrigated vineyards should never be overirrigated. The answer is the proper amount of water, whether vineyards are irrigated or not, and that is the responsibility of a good vineyardist or winegrower.
The Cucamonga Winery produces only table wines, one of the few in the district to do so. All wines are of high quality, the reds being more typical of the district. They are mainly distributed in the East and Midwest. The regular brand is Original Cucamonga Winery and under this label the following wines are available:
RED: Zinfandel, Chianti, Burgundy, Claret, Barberone, and Vino Nativo (vino rosso type); WHITE: Sauterne, Chablis, and Rhine Wine; Dry Muscat; ROSE: Vin Rose.
A few older table wines are marketed under the Original Cucamonga Winery "Special Selection" label, first introduced in I953
These include: RED: Zinfandel, Barbera, and Burgundy; WHITE: Dry Sauterne, Chablis, and Rhine Wine; ROSE: Grignolino Rose.
Padre Vineyard Company, Cucamonga
The Padre Vineyard Company has contributed much to the general fame of Cucamonga for its wines. The owners of this celebrated winery have been prominently identified with the wine industry of Southern California since the turn of the century. James L. (Jimmy) Vai, president of the company, and his brother Giovanni Vai, the vice-president, own and operate the family enterprise, with its winery located on the outskirts of Cucamonga and with the company's main offices in Los Angeles. Louis Valperga is executive vice-president, R. Bruce Meeker the secretary-treasurer, and Frank Pilone the wine maker.
The winery is modern in every department, the buildings covering several acres, including a great fermenting room, storage cellars, laboratory, refrigeration system, distillery for brandy, bonded warehouse, fortifying rooms, champagne cellars, and machine shops. The cooperage is oak and redwood and in addition to the high tonnage yielded by their own vineyards a considerable supply is purchased from neighboring independent growers. Among the great specialties are the champagnes, the finest of which are produced by fermentation in the bottle, while the winery has, at the same time, pioneered in the Charmat process of bulk fermentation, importing much equipment for the purpose from France. Distribution is on a national basis.
The original winery at Cucamonga, founded in 1870, was rebuilt by the Vai family in i9o9. Quality wines are produced, including table wines, the famed sparkling wines, and aperitif and dessert wines, of which the vermouths are especially popular.
The Padre Vineyard Company winery enjoys the distinction of being listed as California Bonded Winery No. i. Table, sparkling, and aperitif and dessert wines are produced, with Padre Reserve, Padre, and Vai Bros. the featured brands. Under the Padre Reserve label the following wines are available:
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Sherry, Port, Muscatel, Tokay, White Port, and Angelica;
Table wines: Burgundy, Zinfandel, and Claret; Sauterne and Rhine Wine.
The Padre label is used for a special Pale Dry Sherry and for a Vino Rosso of the mellow Italian table wine type. A high-quality Cocktail Sherry is marketed under the Padre Fine Reserve brand, and Vermouth, Dry and Sweet, under the Vai Bros. label.
The great specialties of the house, the sparkling wines, are produced according to both bottle- and bulk-fermented processes and are marketed under the Padre and the Vai Bros. labelings.
Sparkling wines (bottle-fermented) : Padre Brut Champagne, American, vintaged, and Padre Sec Champagne, American, vintaged;
Sparkling wines (bulk process) : Padre Sec Champagne, Padre Crystal Sweet Champagne, Gran Spumante (Sparkling Muscat), and Padre Sparkling Burgundy, all vintaged.
Vai Bros. Sparkling Moselle, vintaged; Vai Bros. Extra Dry Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy, both non-vintaged.
Ellena Brothers, Etiwanda
It was soon after the turn of the century that Claudio Ellena came to the United states from Australia, seeking the right location and climate to establish his vineyards. He chose the Cucamonga district c on the warm and sunny slopes of the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Here he felt that wine could be produced comparable to the finer ones of southern Europe, where the Ellenas originated and had been wanegrowers for many generations. He founded his winery at Etiwanda, a few miles northeast of the town of Cucamonga, where his sons John B. and Frank Ellena carry on the family tradition,, producing some of the finest wines of Southern California.
John B. Ellena, the president of the company, and Frank Ellena, the vice-president, own the family enterprise. Two other brothers are active in the winery, Arnold Ellena, the wine maker, chemist, and secretary of the concern, and Louis Ellena, the master distiller. The featured brand is Regina Cucamonga Wine with Ellena Brothers a secondary label. Table wines, sparkling wines, and aperitif and dessert wines of fine quality are produced, available mainly in the Western states. They are marketed in distinctive and original squat or long-necked bottles, trade-marks of the house.
Wines available under the Regina brand include the following:Table wines: : Chianti, Barbera, Grignolino, Zinfandel, Burgundy, Claret, RED and Vino Buon Gusto, a mellow wine of the vino rosso type; WHITE,: Sauterne, Chablis, and Rhine Wine; ROSE: Vin Rose (made 100 per cent from Grignolino grapes;
Light Sweet wines: Natural Muscat, Red Grape Wine, and White Grape Wine;
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry and Sherry, Port, Muscatel) Tokay, White Port, and Angelica; Dry and Sweet Vermouth;
Sparkling wines (bulk process) : Regina Champagne and Sparkling Burgundy and Wedding Party Pink Champagne.
Brookside Vineyard Company, Ontario
This family enterprise, established in its present location since 1952, has a history which goes back to the eighteen eighties in Southern California and way back further in Northern California and Europe. The owners are members of the Biane family, wellknown winegrowers and wine makers in the district for four generations. Marius Biane, Sr., the senior partner of the enterprise, has made wine in the region continuously for the past fifty-two years with the sole exception of the year 1917.
Philo Biane, the son of Marius, is the general manager. He worked for the California Wine Association in various capacities, including chemist, production manager, and sales manager, leaving in 1951 to establish the revived Brookside Vineyard Company at Ontario. His brother Fran~ois (Frank) Biane is the wine maker and was the manager of the Cucamonga Growers Cooperative Winery of Ontario which has been incorporated as the Brookside Winery, Inc., and is also affiliated with the California Wine Association of San Francisco.
The Brookside enterprise was originally founded by the Vachc family, who hailed from the island of Oleron off the Atlantic coast of France at the mouth of the Charente River, where they were engaged in the production of wines and brandy.
The first of the Vache family to come to California was Theophile Vache the elder (great-grand uncle of Philo Biane), who landed in Monterey, then still under the Mexican flag, in 1830. This Theophile Vache must be considerd as one of the great pioneers of the modern California wine industry. In 1849, or even earlier, he planted the first vines south of Hollister in what was to become known as the "Vineyard District" of San Benito County and grew into the Valliant Vineyards enterprise.
Three nephews of Theophile Vache the elder came to California to join their uncle. Emile came first, then Theophile the younger, and finally Adolphe, in 1855. A fourth brother, Alfred, remained in France operating the winery and distillery there. Emile later returned to his native country to join Alfred, while Theophile the younger and Adolphe remained in California, eventually coming down south on account of the extensive vineyard plantings that were taking place around Los Angeles during the eighteen sixties. They first founded a wholesale importing business of fine wines and spirits in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and in 1882 established themselves as "Wholesale Dealers and Rectifiers and Manufacturers of Native Wines, Brandies, Wine Vinegar, Syrups Etc.," at Old San Bernardino, the winery being situated "on Dr. Barton's place:" The brothers did business as "Vache Freres" and in 1883 moved to Redlands Junction, hardly a town at that time, some ten miles southeast of San Bernardino, where they built and founded the Brookside Winery. Theophile Vache the elder, incidentally, had returned to France and his family in 1865.
A Gascon youngster by the name of Marius Biane arrived in Redlands in 1892 from his native department of Gers in the ancient province of Gascony in Southern France, north of the Pyrenees. After attending school for a year he went to work for the Vache brothers at Brookside. He fell in love with Marcelline, the daughter of Adolphe Vache, and married her. In due course the Biane family carried on the Vache tradition of wine making in Redlands, Marius also acquiring vineyards in the Cucamonga district. In 1916 the winery was sold and the Biane sons, Philo and Franqois, went to work for Garrett & Company and later for Fruit Industries, as the California Wine Association was known at one time. It was not till 1952 that the Bianes revived their own enterprise by re-establishing the Brookside Vineyard Company at Ontario, some seven miles south of Cucamonga.
Fine table wines are the specialty of the enterprise, while finequality dessert wines, notably sherries and ports, are also produced, as is to be expected in the district. Angelica is the most popular of the altar wine group.
Brookside is the featured brand for quality wines and under this label the following are available:
RED: Burgundy, Zinfandel, Claret, and Vino Rosso; WHITE: Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Chablis, and Rhine Wine;
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Sherry, Port, Muscatel, and Tokay.
A full line of standard wines is marketed under the E. Vache and Pico brands, while under the Pancho label a Light Sweet Wine is merchandised, similar to the Vino Rosso.
Altar wines, available only to the clergy, are produced under the Guasti brand, under a special arrangement with the California Wine Association. These include:
Dry wines: Burgundy, Zinfandel, and Claret; Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Chablis, and Rhine Wine;
Sweet wines: Angelica, Sherry, Port, Muscatel, Tokay, St. Benedict, and Guasti Special.
Garrett & Company, Inc., Guasti
Two great stories of American wine enterprise are merged here, the one of the Garrett family, famed in the wine industry for well over a century, and the other that of Secundo Guasti, who founded the Italian Vineyard Company including the town in the Cucamonga district to which he gave his name and the vineyards which were to become known as the largest in the world.
Garrett & Company had its beginning in 1835 in the heart of the vineyard country of the South. There, at Medoc, North Carolina, named after the Medoc district near Bordeaux in France, the Garrett brothers established their first vineyards and winery. It was there that they produced, from native Eastern grapes of the Vitis rottsndi f olia variety, the wine first called "Garrett's Scuppernong," which was later to become so popular under the name of Virginia Dare, said to be the first child of English parentage born on the American shores.
As the nation expanded, so did Garrett's. The Southern vineyards were enlarged and company branches were opened in the Midwest. In 1911 the growth of Garrett's reached the Pacific when they acquired vineyards and a winery at Cucamonga. Two years later another expansion took place when vineyards and wineries were purchased in the Finger Lake district in upper New York State. Two further expansions occurred in the nineteen forties when holdings were acquired in Ukiah, Mendocino County, for the production of dry table wines, in 1944, and a year later the entire property of the famed Italian Vineyard Company was purchased in Guasti, just south of Cucamonga. Today Garrett & Company owns and operates some 7000 acres of vineyards and three wineries in California besides further acreage and wineries in New York State and North Carolina. The main offices of the company are located in Brooklyn, New York.
Secundo Guasti was a native of Piedmont who came to California by way of Mexico. In or about 1883 he planted his first vineyards in the Cucamonga area, the foundation of an enterprise which he gradually built into the huge Italian Vineyard Company with its 5000 acres of vines. It took some ten years after its beginning for Guasti's company to gain impetus and size and he built his first winery just prior to the turn of the century. From then it grew and expanded rapidly. Secundo Guasti established a small town for his workers, including homes, a store, a firehouse, a school, a church, and an inn. The church is a well-known landmark and has been painted by many artists and amateurs because of its Italian style and atmosphere, with its bells and art objects imported from Italy.
The Italian Vineyard Company flourished until after the death of the founder's son, Secundo Guasti the second, in 1932. During Prohibition the company merged its resources with several other large wineries to form Fruit Industries, Ltd. (now California Wine Association), but withdrew from that organization with the advent of Repeal to operate independently under the management of Nicola Giulii, the first Secundo Guasti's son-in-law, until its acquisition in 1945 bby Garrett & Company, Inc.
In spite of its size Garrett & Company has always been a family owned and operated concern. The company was actually founded by Dr. Frank Garrett, but remained quite small during his lifetime. It was Paul Garrett, his nephew, who built the enterprise into prominence and was its president for many decades before his death in 1940. Affectionately known as Captain Garrett, he became a dominating figure in the whole of the American wine industry and was known as the dean of American wine growers.
The third generation of the Garrett family now runs the concern. H. C. Paulsen, chairman of the board, D. B. Weed, president of the company, and Llewellyn J. Barden, vice-president and Pacific-coast manager with headquarters at Guasti, all married daughters of Paul Garrett. C. B. Cole and J. Campbell Moore are vice-presidents with offices in Brooklyn, New York. Herbert Minor is the wine maker at the Guasti winery, Samuel Elder the wine maker and plant manager at the Cucamonga winery, and F. Bricarelli has the same positions at the Ukiah, Mendocino County, winery.
Garrett & Company produces and markets wines of sound standard and higher quality which enjoy a national distribution. The principal featured brand is Garrett's for the medium-priced wines, while Paul Garrett and LV.C. (continued from the days of the Italian Vineyard Company) are the labels for wines in the higherpriced categories. The table wines and aperitif and dessert wines are produced in California; the Virginia Dare wines, sparkling wines (bottle-fermented), and berry wines are produced in the East and therefore not included in this text.
The following California wines are available under the various brands:
Table wines: Paul Garrett (Signature Label) : Grignolino; Burgundy; Sauterne and Rhine Wine;
Garrett's: Burgundy, Zinfandel, and Claret; Sauterne and Rhine Wine;
LV.C.: Grignolino (one of the best known of all Southern California wines and one for which the Italian Vineyard Company was famed), Grey Riesling, and Vin Rose.
Aperitif and Dessert wines: Paul Garrett (Signature Label) : Pale Dry Sherry and Sherry, Port and Muscatel;
Garrett's: Pale Dry Sherry and Sherry, Port, Muscatel, Tokay, and White Port; Dry and Sweet Vermouth.
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