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(Note: Information Originally Published In 1955 - Presented For Historical Perspective!)
This Guide has not aimed at being an encyclopedia or a directory of California wineries. Nor has it ambitioned to appraise every winery discussed and every wine produced. The latter would VEbe a superhuman, endless, and intensely thankless task. The Guide does contain, however, many general indications of the quality of the wines available, from the least expensive to the very finest produced.
The Guide has limited itself to presenting and discussing what it considered to be the more notable wineries of the state, producers of wines under brands which are available to the public. There are many enterprises, however, large and small, which produce only, or mostly, for other wineries, selling their output in bulk. A number of such wineries, affiliated with large co-operative merchandising organizations, have been named individually in the text. There are others, both family-owned and co-operative wineries, which should be mentioned, even if their names cannot be as familiar to the public as those bottling under their own labels and brands.
Among these are the following (proceeding from north to south, conforming to the main text) :
Seghesio Winery, with wineries at Cloverdale and Healdsburg, Sonoma County. A famous old family enterprise, founded in 1902 and owned and operated by Frank, Arthur, and Eugene Seghesio. Producers of table wines only (Seghesio Winery brand).
Larkmead Cooperative Winery of St. Helena, Napa County, founded in 1947. A well-known concern, producing Napa Valley table wines for Italian Swiss Colony. B. H. Skillings is the president of the co-operative and P. L. Halpern the general manager and wine maker of the winery.
Sanger Winery Association of Sanger, Fresno County. An independent co-operative winery with some ninety grower members, producers of dessert wines. Jake Rheingans is the co-operative president, Art Tempel the general manager, and Louis Szakal the wine maker and chemist. Founded in 1939.
Selma Winery, Inc., of Selma, Fresno County. Founded in 1947, producers of dessert wines and brandy. Kenneth Knapp is the president and general manager, J. L. Buchman the vice-president, and Henry A. Bishop the superintendent and wine maker (Selma and Ark Royal brands).
Muscat Cooperative Winery Association of Kingsburg, Fresno County. One of California's oldest co-operative wineries with some 125 grower members. Producers of table and dessert wines and brandy. Founded in 1935. E. L. Barr is the president, W. E. Staley the general manager, and W. J. Sorenson the wine maker (San Ramon brand).
Argun Wine Company of Tulare, Tulare County. Producers of table and dessert wines. The enterprise belongs to the estate of Eddie Arakelian and Vas Gunner, partners. Eddie Gunner is the plant manager.
California Grape Products Corporation in Tulare County, right across the Kern County line from Delano and with offices in San Francisco. Producers of table and dessert wines. Harry Baccigaluppi, a well-known figure in the California wine industry, is the president and general manager. Tony Marusick is the wine maker (Calgrape, Caligrapo, and other brands).
Lack of space is the reason why many of the smaller wineries have not been discussed in the text. The northern inland counties of Butte, Yolo, Placer, and Amador have one or more wineries, all devoted to the production of table wines. Yolo County, of course, is famous for the Viticultural Department of the University of California and its experimental station located at Davis.
Other counties only casually mentioned are San Mateo, with one winery producing both table and dessert wines very close to the San Francisco County line at Daly City; Kings County, with a single winery at Hanford; and Ventura County, with its table wine enterprise at Ojai. Monterey County has, besides F. W. Silvear's vineyards discussed under that area, an operating winery at Soledad.
The Riverside County winegrowing section, with a number of wineries producing both table and dessert types centering mostly around Mira Loma, is actually an extension of the Cucamonga district. If space permitted, more enterprises would have been discussed in San Bernardino County, so rich in its Cucamonga wineries. Thomas Vineyards at Cucamonga, with its retail outlet, is a popular place for tourists and others. It lays claim to being the oldest California winery and markets, besides the usual types of wines such specialties as Aleatico, Madeira, and Malvasia. The brand Old Rancho is named after the old Cucamonga Ranch, of which it forms a part.
San Diego County boasts some eight wineries, most of them in or near Escondido, famed for its muscatels of high quality. The most prominent wine enterprise in the district is the Borra Winery at Escondido. Founded in 1933, it produces both table and dessert wines, with Escondido the featured label. George Borra is the owner. The oldest winery in the area is the Mighetto Winery, also at Escondido, which traces its origin back to 1881. Joe B. Mighetto is the owner, who labels his table and dessert wines under the Don Pio and other brands.
This chapter, the final one dedicated to the presentation of California wineries, finds a fitting end with a salute to Baja California, south of the border. It was there that the California wine industry received its original impetus, thanks to the enterprise of the Franciscan Fathers. From there it moved north to Alta California and along El Camino Real.
In 1767 the Padres founded the Mission of Santo Tomas some thirty kilometers south of Ensenada in what is now the state of Baja California del Norte. The romantic winery called Bodegas de Santo Tomas produces well-known Mexican table and other wines from its three large vineyards in the Santo Tomas Valley, named so expressively Rancho de Cantarramas (Ranch of the Singing Frogs), site of the old mission, Rancho de los Dolores, and Rancho de la Canada Verde (Ranch of the Green Valley). Owner is the well-known General Abelardo Rodriguez, former governor of the state of Sinaloa.