Bargetto Family Shares 80th Anniversary Celebration with Community
The story of how fourth generation director of winemaking John Bargetto came to write the history of Bargetto Winery began with another story. Before even contemplating the book “Vintage Bargetto: Celebrating a Century of California Winemaking,” he wrote a short story set in the ‘20s about Prohibition, which turned into a long story. “You know, we Italians talk a lot,” he says. But that story, which he still hopes to publish, is what provided the motivation for a book chronicling the winery history before it was lost.
The project began in the summer of 2012, along with local historian and co-writer Geoffrey Dunn, who agreed to take part with Tom Bargetto’s editorial support. Graphic artist and label designer Ed Penniman was responsible for designing the layout of text, historical photographs and images.
Although John had established family and winery archives years earlier, several surprises turned up upon further research. It was discovered that the family operated a retail store at 232 Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz selling produce they grew in Soquel, that Irving Berlin’s nephew almost invested in the winery, and in 1967, Ansel Adams visited the winery while teaching a class at UCSC. One of John’s favorite photos of his dad was taken by Adams and appears in the book.
Prohibition 1919 - 1933
A section in the book relates the many ways the family struggled yet survived during Prohibition. The law permitted the production of 200 gallons of wine per year, per household. A colorful story in the book relates how the Bargettos figured out a way to sell wine to the public by including it with dinners held at the family home on Main Street in Soquel. The cost of wine was included with the dinner and additional bottles were quietly sold upon request.
December 5 of 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the winery as well as the day in 1933 that Prohibition ended with the passage of the 21st Amendment. Bargetto chronicles the family’s 14 long years of hardship during those years and how they prepared for the upcoming era. In anticipation, just as they had done years ago, wine that had been crushed in the fall was ready to go, and the family stayed up all night bottling and labeling so as to have it ready for sale on December 5.
Repeal Day celebration
To celebrate this illustrious date in all of winemaking history, the winery has plans for a big “Repeal Day” event, complete with food, music and complimentary wine tasting. This day also marks the release of two new Bargetto wines, 2012 Pinot Noir - Mount Eden Clone, and 2012 Pinot Noir - Pommard Clone. Geoff Dunn and historian emeritus Sandy Lydon, who wrote the book’s afterword, will join John Bargetto to sign books.
Bargetto LA VITA wines give back to community
In 2001, the first LA VITA ("the life" in Italian) red wine from the 1997 vintage was released to rave reviews, winning four gold medals. In an interview, John Bargetto said, “LA VITA wine is our finest effort in winemaking, starting from growing these unique grapes, to producing the wine, to designing the unique package. We are pleased to be able to, in a formal way, give back some of the proceeds to the Santa Cruz community, which has been so supportive to Bargetto Winery and the Bargetto family through the years.”
Proceeds of sales that year benefited Jacob’s Heart organization and in the following years, the recipients have included Hospice Caring Project, CASA of Santa Cruz County, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and in 2013, Santa Cruz Art League.
The LA VITA room was recently added just off the winery creekside courtyard to provide indoor space for events, using redwood from old-growth vertical grain tanks purchased in ‘49 from Petri Winery in San Francisco. “Toast for a Cause,” fundraisers for nonprofit organizations use these spaces on a regular basis. Thirty percent of wine tasting proceeds go back to local schools and other nonprofit organizations.
In 2010 the winery was presented with the Farmer of the Year award by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. It is the first time a wine-growing family has been selected for the award. Executive Director Jess Brown said in part, “The award goes to a person/s who is involved in production agriculture and does much for the community.”
For four generations, the Bargetto family has made it their ultimate goal to produce outstanding wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. With the establishment of The LA VITA/Regan estate vineyard they have finally realized that dream. “With this estate vineyard, the winery is able to produce a host of Santa Cruz Mountain varietals like Chardonnay, Merlot and four Pinot Noir wines, demonstrating the outstanding quality of wines from this region,” said Bargetto.
He is comforted to know that his mother Beverly, who served as president of winery operations from 1982 – 2002, and then served as chairperson of the Board of Directors, lived to experience the beginning of the 80th anniversary year. The family has no doubt that she will continue to be watching over them for many years to come.
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3 years 291 days ago
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4 years 72 days ago
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4 years 102 days ago
very nice work June,
nice sequential flow and condensed and relevant. keep up the good work. Larry was a great man. As a young college student treated me, asked me, and others, great questions . . . treated us like "big people". Proof that how we treat people is most remembered!