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Fresno-San Joaquin Valley - Notable Wineries By District And Region

[Fresno-San Joaquin Valley - Part 1]  [Fresno-San Joaquin Valley - Part 2]  [Fresno-San Joaquin Valley - Part 3] 
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(Note: Information Originally Published In 1955 - Presented For Historical Perspective!)


California Growers Wineries, Cutler

This is a co-operative winery whose presiding genius is the wellknown Arpaxat Setrakian, better known by his nickname of "Sox." A native of Armenia who once peddled produce through the streets of San Francisco, Arpaxat Setrakian rose to an important position in the California wine and grape industry by his dynamic energy and personality. Now in his early seventies, he has always been an ardent champion of the grape grower, whose interests are sometimes neglected and whose economic position is often insecure. The farming interests of the grower, so important a part of the California and national agricultural picture, should be harmoniously balanced with those of the producer and the merchandiser of California wines, to the detriment of none. Such is Setrakian's and the California Growers Wineries' principal philosophy.

It was in 1936 that "Sox" Setrakian, now president and sales manager of the concern, founded California Growers Wineries together with Charles F. Clapp, now vice-president, and with H. B. "Dutch" Leonard, the big-league ball player and famous pitcher of his time, best remembered perhaps when he played with the Boston Red Sox of the American League. Other officers of the company include Souren Setrakian, a nephew of Arpaxat, secretary, Leonard P. LeBlanc, treasurer, and Earle M. Cobb, manager. Nino Muzio is the wine maker and chemist.

As is to be expected in the hot climate of the lower San Joaquin Valley, the main accent at California Growers Wineries is on the production of sweet dessert wines.

The featured brand is Growers Old Reserve and includes the following sound standard-quality wines:

Aperitif and Dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry and Sherry, Port, Muscatel, Tokay, and White Port;

Table wines: Burgundy, Claret, and Zinfandel; Sauterne and Chablis; Grignolino Rose, a recent specialty.

Light Sweet wines: Red and White.

Growers is the top brand, used for quality vintage and aged aperitif and dessert wines, including:

Cocktail Sherry and Amber Sherry (medium sweet), Tawny Port, and Golden Muscatel.

Golden Bear and Calgro Select are the more important secondary brands used for aperitif and dessert wines as follows:

Pale Dry Sherry and Sherry, Port, Muscatel, Tokay, and White Port.


Kern County deserves special mention. It is one of the largest dessert wine producers of California and with its vast vineyard acreage one of the most productive vineyard areas anywhere in the world. It so happens that the county's number of wineries is small and that none of these produces directly for the public under its own brands.

At the same time Kern County's wineries, few as they are, loom large in importance and size. In the Delano area in the northern part of the county there is the Delano Growers Cooperative Winery, founded in 1940, and A. Perelli-Minetti & Sons, established in 1934, both producing for the California Wine Association of San Francisco.

Southeast of Bakersfield, in the heart of Kern County, the Di Giorgio Wine Company is to be found near Arvin at Di Giorgio. The winery was founded in 1945 bby the fabulous Joseph Di Giorgio, who rose from lemon packer on his father's little fruit farm at Cefalu in Sicily to be the boss of the multimillion-dollar Di Giorgio Fruit Corporation. This company has nationwide interests, ranging from Florida to California, including the vast vineyard and orchard acreage known as Di Giorgio Farms, with its ultra-modern winery having a capacity of nearly ten million gallons. Robert Di Giorgio, nephew of the founder, is now president of the concern.

Another large winery, the Giumarra Vineyards Corporation, is located in the area east of Bakersfield, at Edison. This family-owned enterprise was founded in 1946. Joe Giumarra is the president and George Giumarra the second-in-command. Like the Di Giorgio Wine Company, Giumarra Vineyards Corporation is a bulk wine producer.