Saturday, January 24, 2015

A historic Cucamonga winery becomes a lonely island in California's LA sprawl

The southern California sun sets behind the Palomino grape vine which is part of the Galleano Winery estate vineyard in the Cucamonga Valley. This vineyeard was planted in the 1930s.
 Early during Prohibition days, Cucamonga Valley was one of the largest Viticultural areas in California, with more vineyard acreage than Napa and Sonoma combined. During the 40's, the area boasted something like 60 wineries.   

No tasting room should be without a buffalo to watch over visitors at Galleano Winery in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.

Today, even though it has it's own AVA designation, just a handful of producing vineyards survive the Los Angeles' suburban sprawl. And I visited the only 5 wineries I could find, and one of those is only a few years old.

The Galleano Winery fleet of working trucks was once modern. Now they are parked as fond memories and dusty tourist attractants. Cucamonga Valley AVA, southern California.

Galleano Winery is a holdover from that past. Family-owned and operated, they've been producing wines since 1933. 
The office at Galleano Winery hints that this is a down-home historic operation.
 In fact, Galleano is the last remaining bonded, Prohibition-era winery still owned and operated by it's founding family at its original location.  It is even listed on both the California and national Register of Historic Places.  Plus, it's the world’s largest producer of Cucamonga Valley wines.

Workshop at the Galleano Winery on the outskirts of Mira Loma in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.
Besides being a quaint visual historical museum, the winery offers an eclectic assortment of wines (of course they have old vine Zin.), port, cherry and sparkling. Besides the classical old-vine Zin, they have offerings from lesser know grapes like Rose of Peru (in their sherry) and estate-grown
Palomino (a white grape widely grown in Spain and South Africa).

They ferment and age their wines in redwood casks.

The cozy tasting room at Galleano Winery in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.
Finding the wines as interesting as the historical winery remnants, I bought the Vino di Vigna Zinfandel (90% Zin, 10% Petite Sirah) and Three Friends Port—which Galleano claims has "won more international gold medals than any other tawny port in America."

Since the nearest gas station was a distant mirage, Galleano Winery had its own pump  in the Cucamonga Valley of southern California.
The place is both a visual and enological attractant. During a short stay in the tasting room, one couple rolled in from Arizona, a man from Illinois, several from the LA area and one guy from Sherwood, Oregon.

What winery should be without a gift shop? During my short visit, my missed my opportunity as the store at Galleano Winery was closed.
I forgot to ask how long Galleano Winery has been a member of California's Wine Institute.  Just in case you didn't know, the Wine Institute is an association of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses that initiate and advocate public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.

As it has for some 80 years, the original barn sits under swaying palm trees at Galleano Winery in the Cucamonga Valley.
Don Galleano, grandson of the founder of Galleano Winery, stands between his shiny new Mercedes and the well-preserved old farm truck.

Los Angeles sprawl of offices, factories, suburb housing and airports now make Galleano Winery a viticultural island in the Cucamonga Valley.

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