The Wineries of Rancho Cucamonga are back.

If it seems like you have read some of these details before, you have, in my other stories....But they bear repeating because they give you a good reference as to who was involved in what, which personality created the wineries and there involvement with other factions of an era long gone but still present in the works they left behind.....And thanks to one family the wine making tradition is being reborn in Rancho Cucamonga.

Cucamonga's first large planting was in 1838 at the Cucamonga Rancho by Spanish land grant that went to Tiburcio Tapia......In 1859 rancher John Rains began large vine plantings (125,000+) in Cucamonga.....He started a revolution by introducing agriculture on a large scale to replace cattle and sheep raising.....By 1917, Secondo Guasti was advertising his vineyard as, "The Largest in the World." Cucamonga-Guasti vineyards spanned over 20,000 acres.....Prohibition which should have hurt the Cucamonga Wine Industry, merely created a boom in an unusual way.

Prohibition (1919-1933) arrived and within that dark cloud came the stimulus for growth that Joseph would have never imagined.....Growing grapes for home winemaking across the country, and helping others farm their land.....The original G. Filippi and Son winery was founded in 1934.....By the mid 1960's, the Joseph Filippi family's estate holdings had grown to over 400 acres.

By the late 1960's Giovanni's grandson Joseph Jr. was taking the family winegrowing tradition to new heights.....Graduating at the top of his class with honors, his skill and research accomplishments were so impressive, he was asked to return to UC Davis as a professor of Enology and Viticulture (the sciences and study of winemaking and grape growing).....10 years later, longing to apply his vast knowledge, Joseph Jr. returned with his wife Elaine to the family winery and vineyards in Cucamonga and Alta Loma as well as Guasti.

By 1970, the winery was growing, producing and bottling several hundred thousand gallons of wine each season and had built the winery to over one-million gallons of aging and fermentation capacity.....Brother in-law, William W. Nix was directing sales and the winery was selling wine throughout the country not to mention their eight retail winery-direct to consumer tasting rooms in the Inland Empire but also in other areas of southern California..

Thomas Bros Winery heavy damaged after floods of 69
There seemed to be no end to the growth when in 1967 the Filippi family purchased the famous Thomas Brothers Winery in Rancho Cucamonga, "California's Oldest Winery"......Even the torrential floods of January 1969 which nearly destroyed the historic winery estate couldn't hold back Filippi family and friends from quickly rebuilding "California's Oldest." Reno J. Morra, Sales Manager remembers digging out over 5 feet of mud and debris in the old winery during the cold January nights.....The winery flooded again February 25th and again in March.

Joseph Jr. passed in 1993 at the age of 61.....According to John DeLuca, former President Wine Institute, "Joe was an expert in grape growing and winemaking, and he contributed greatly to the prestige of the wine industry.....I saw him as a friend and ally in helping rebuild the California wine industry.....He was a great teacher and to all who asked his advice, he gave freely and there were many!"

The history and tradition of the Filippi winegrowing family continues and flourishes today with each new vintage as brothers Gino and Joseph 'J.P.' Filippi build upon over 82 years in historic Cucamonga-Guasti.

Since 1994, the Filippis have revitalized old vineyards and undertaken new vine plantings.....They continue working to restore the historic Ellena Bros./Regina Winery with the City of Rancho Cucamonga help, and were instrumental in the design of the Restored Virginia Dare Winery on Foothill and Haven.

    On March 31st 1995 the United States Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) ruled Cucamonga Valley an approved viticulture area......This was the result of a petition written and filed by Gino L. Filippi on behalf of our winery and other vintners and growers in the area......This new law enabled wineries use of the words Cucamonga Valley on their wine labels utilizing at least 85% Cucamonga grapes.

The Filippis have assembled a top-flight vinification winemaking team, headed by Director of Winemaking Marc Lurton, Enologist Chateau Reynier Estate Bordeaux, Asst. Winemaker Tish Cooper, Enologist and Dr. Fred S. Nury, Emeritus Professor of Enology and Food Science California State University Fresno......With this advanced level of winemaking expertise, Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyards has placed Rancho Cucamonga back on the winemaking map.

Joseph Filippi limited production releases include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Mourvédre, Muscat Canelli, Syrah, Chardonnay, White Riesling, Zinfandel, as well as aged sherries and specialty ports including the popular Fondante Ciello 'chocolate'. The Filippi's also present vintages from Chateau Reynier Bordeaux Estate. The Filippis also produce the ultra-premium "Deux Monde" blend (100% Rancho Cucamonga grown) with French enologist Marc Lurton of the famous Lurton winemaking family of Bordeaux France.

Since 1995, the winery has undertaken several new acres of vineyard plantings and vineyard revitalization projects in the Etiwanda area of Rancho Cucamonga.....Premium red grape varietals include Petite Sirah, Grenache Noir, Tannat, Mourvedre, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante and Syrah.....New vine plantings in cooperation with the City of Rancho Cucamonga, the Cucamonga Valley Water District and other private entities are scheduled for 2005 through 2008.

Since 1996, Gino's weekly wine column "Off the Vine" has appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin newspaper.....His articles have highlighted a wide range of wine subjects ranging from Cucamonga-Guasti area vintners, past and present, to the famous vineyards and chateaux of Bordeaux and beyond.....Gino has pretty much singlehandedly kept the area's great wine history in front of Inland Valley readers....."That's a big accomplishment," said Mike Brossart, Daily Bulletin Editor.

The winery operates two winery tasting and sales locations in Rancho Cucamonga and in Guasti near the Ontario Airport. Throughout the winery's spacious tasting areas, adult guests may sample reserve barrel-aged releases and award-winners, and purchase bottles available solely at the winery.....A knowledgeable and wine-friendly staff offers you personal service in the recommendation of wines that will not only suit your palate, but also complement important occasions and special cuisine.

Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyards has earned over 200 Awards for winemaking excellence in the past 30 years. Award-winning varieties include Zinfandels, Grenaches, Cabernets, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Sherries, Ports and Angelica wines.....Visitors are always welcome at our wineries to taste any our delicious wines and ask any questions they may have about wines.

The Filippi family has grown premium wine grapes in the Cucamonga area continuously since 1922.....In keeping with the City of Rancho Cucamonga's commitment to honor its viticulture heritage, the ongoing restoration/preservation efforts of Gino and J.P.....Filippi serves as a deserving tribute to the early vintner lineage that has made Rancho Cucamonga what it is today.

Gary Hall, the ghostpainter

Comments

Gary,

Nice article. Thanks for the effort.

Gino Filippi

It is most gratifying and appreciated to see comments from such a well known Inland Empire Personality....I'am also very happy to see that you have joined the IE community....A double plus for the website....Gary Hall, theghostpainter

This is a neat site.

How long has it been up and running?

Gino L. Filippi

The owner Randy, put the site up on 5 27 2006....He asked me to start writing about a month later and I do about 15 to 20 stories a month for the site....I was born here so I have seen the area change dramticly over the last 58 years and I have pictures from all eras including several about the 1969 floods and what they did to the wineries and orange groves at that time....Each story I do, I research on line, or ask family about what happened, since my family goes back to the 1870's in the Inland Empire....There are over 1200 Halls, Smiths, Lees, Arnizes and Morrisons all related and living in this area so I have plenty of material to write about, except one story....No one can remember who died when his plane crashed on the 10 freeway in 1960 just past Grove in Ontario....It was a TV car salemans....They remember the event, I was an eyewitness, but no can remember his name...Would make a good story if I find out anything. theghostpainter

Thanks!

Gino L. Filippi

Thanks Mr. Filippi, and welcome!

As you can see, we're a small group, and Ghostpainter is our expert.  Hope to see more posts from you!

 

Thank you!

Gino L. Filippi

Do you know if a winery had land at the 210 freeway and cherry ave.
If yes, what type of grapes did they plant?

I like Rancho Cucamonga of past went looked the beautiful country. the farmer pick up the grapes of Ellena Bros in Cucamonga District Etiwanda,my father buy one Quart E.B. of vine.from old days when bottles mark. Refillng prohibited.I LIKE REMINDER all that.and still the good taste of vines of California...

Alot of people do not realize that there is still a Ellena Family member still living. She is in her 80's. Her Father and his brother once own and operated the Ellena Bros/Regina Winery.

Alot of people do not realize that there is still a Ellena Family member still living. She is in her 80's. Her Father and his brother once own and operated the Ellena Bros/Regina Winery.

I moved to Rancho Cucamonga in 1979, I loved driving down Haven Ave with the vineyards on the east side, It seems that the so much was lost with the development of the area. Does the city of Rancho Cucamonga really appreciate their history, I can't tell. I see the appreciation of Route 66 but I do not see the appreciation of early vintner lineage that made Rancho Cucamonga that you referred to above. In fact the Wine festival seems to be more of a carnival. What am I missing? Do I not know where to look? Central park in Rancho Cucamonga should be developed with the History of the area in mind.
Just some thoughts from 30+ year resident

How many different wineries have operated in the "Cucamonga. valley?"
Thomas, Ellena, Regina, Brooks, (?) Filippi,
Virginia Dare. ???
I think a history of all of the wineries including info of where the vineyards were would be interesting for new and old residents.

Wasn't that Cal Worthington and his dog spot? Actually the "dog" spot was a mountain lion that I had the amazing opportunity to meet and get licked right on the end of my nose. I wish I still had the pictures but alas that was a long time ago. I worked at Regina Winery for a long time and gave the tours and worked in the tasting room and did a couple of TV commercials. I knew John and his wife and son, Claude. My husband and I used to baby sit him at times.

The two brothers that owned Regina were John and Frank. John was married to Arliss and had a son, Claude but no other children that I know of, Frank may have had a daughter. John and Frank didn't see eye to eye on the business and John bought Frank out. John continued with the winery and restaurant but sadly he wasn't a business man and had Frank and him stayed together they would have made a fortune. Frank went on to be one of the 10 wealthiest men in San Bernardino County. John spent money like it was wine and went way overboard on the restaurant. I worked for the winery from about 1965 to 1972 and knew them both. I used to baby sit for John and Arliss when they would socialize with the Stater family. I hope to make a trip down there soon, I'd like to bring some Cucamonga wine home with me. When they were playing around with changing the name of the area from Alta Loma, Cucamonga and Etiwanda I worked for the county building department and we chose Altacucawanda for the name we thought would fit, but of course it didn't make it. When the brothers owned and ran the winery it wasn't called Regina at all. It was only the Ellena Bros. Winery. John changed it after he bought it from Frank.

At one time in the 50's I was married to a Neiman, my father in- law worked as the field boss during the picking season and tying the vines up to the stakes and my husband handled the discing in the vineyards on the Devore Cutoff and the one off the road toward the College. At that time one of the wineries had a Christmas celebration with a huge dinner and dancing and a great time. Was that your family by any chance? I was about 18 at the time so it's a little vague now. A lot of Italian music and dancing and the Polka and my in-laws were German ancestry and love to Polka. His name was Emanuel Neiman and was with the winery for many many years. Such sad memories at times. Life goes on.

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