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Lodi-Sacramento - Notable Wineries By District And Region

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(Note: Information Originally Published In 1955 - Presented For Historical Perspective!)


Mills Winery, Sacramento

The winery, situated east of Sacramento and just south of the American River, was founded in iqro by the Silver brothers, who operated it until the thirties. The present owner, Paul Kershaw, Jr., who is president and general manager of the enterprise and also his own wine maker, took over in 1945, modernizing the winery and adding a large distilling plant for the production of brandy.

Most of the grapes used in the winery are from non-irrigated vineyards, some of them originating in the hillsides north of the American River toward the Mother Lode country, and others from the north coast counties. For the production of the dessert wines grapes from the inland valley region are also used.

Both table and dessert wines are produced, mostly on a bulk basis, destined for other wineries, but some bottling is also done for sale at the winery under the Mills and Beaumille brands. The featured wines are the Burgundy in the table wines and the Port in the dessert types, both of a dark red, nearly purple color. The Burgundy is produced from a blend of Carignane, Mataro, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel grapes, all from non-irrigated vines.

Gibson Wine Company, Elk Grove

The Gibson Wine Company, with its winery at Elk Grove, California, and offices at St. Helena and Palm Desert, California, is a subsidiary of the parent corporation, the Gibson Wine Company of Nevada, with principal offices in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A large and modern bottling plant is maintained in Covington, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, to which the company ships its bulk wine from California to be bottled and marketed throughout the Middle West and the East.

President of both the California company and the Nevada corporation is Robert H. Gibson, who after spending ten years in the stockbrokerage business in Cincinnati and New York turned to the production of wines.

He felt that many people would enjoy the taste of wines made from types of fruit other than grapes, and experimented for some years in the production of berry and fruit wines. His faith was fully justified and he succeeded in developing a large market in this field. Berry and fruit wines have found their own customers and the Gibson Wine Company has become one of the largest producers of these wines in the world.

Robert H. Gibson, known to his many friends as Bob, spends most of his time at St. Helena and Palm Desert, where he maintains his summer and winter homes as well as offices. On his St. Helena ranch he raises rare pheasants, of which he is a well-known breeder, supplying them to zoos throughout the world. He and his entire family also have a hobby of raising and showing fine quarterbreds and he is the proud possessor of one of the outstanding strings of these horses in the West.

The trade-mark of the corporation is the Golden Pheasant, which appears on many of the labels and is blown into most of the company's bottles.

The Elk Grove winery, where nearly all of Gibson's berry and fruit wines, as well as the table and dessert wines, are produced, was originally built in 1912 as a gas-engine works where plane engines were built for the First World War. In 1934 it was converted into a winery by the Elk Grove Fruit Growers Association, a co-operative, and when Gibson secured it in 1943, it was known as the Sunny Crest Winery. The name was changed to the Gibson Wine Company of California and extensive rebuilding and modernization took place. From a small plant it grew into a large and modern winery, producing the finest berry and fruit wines in the state.

The following wines are produced and marketed under Gibson's brand:

Berry and Fruit wines (12 per cent alcohol by volume) : Old Briar Blackberry of the Boysenberry Variety, Boysenberry, Cherry, Elderberry, Loganberry, Raspberry, and Red Currant;

Berry and Fruit wines (20 or 21 per cent alcohol by volume) : Apple, Blackberry, and Grape;

Light Sweet wines (12 or 13 per cent alcohol by volume) : Light Sweet Red, White, and Muscat; American Concord;

Sparkling wines (from ioo per cent California wines and fermented in the bottle) : Yellow Label Champagne (Brut, Extra-Dry, and Sec), Red Label Sparkling Burgundy;

Vermouth: Sweet and Dry.

The quality brand for table and dessert wines is Gibson's Golden Pheasant and under this label the following varieties are produced and marketed:

Table wines: RED: Cabernet, Burgundy, and Claret;

WHITE: Sauterne, Riesling, Rhine, and Chablis;

Aperitif and Dessert wines: Palomino Sherry, Pale Dry, Golden, and Cream Sherries, Tawny and Ruby Ports; Muscatel and Tokay.

Numerous other Gibson brands and labels exist, of which Gibson's Private Stock Pheasant Brand is the most prominent and is used for wines in the economy field. These include:

Table wines: Burgundy, Claret, and Sauterne;

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