A ghost dressed in blue...or airport lights, car lights or someone next door....You be the judge.

In 1967 my mom and dad moved into a new home on Waverly Court in Upland, and of course I still being in high school went along because after all, the kids always go where their parents move to.

I soon discovered that on certain nights in my room a blue light would appear on the ceiling of my room. The first time my dog woke me from a sound sleep barking at the light as it drifted down the wall then went it out as it hit the floor.

The nights it would happen were usually very foggy, moist and drippy out side. Out side my window at that time was an orange grove. When it was clear I never saw the light, but on nights like I described, I would sometimes see it, not all of the time.

Brandt Family Winery in San Antonio Heights (Upland)

Brandt Family Winery

by Gino L. Filippi 12/28/07

So you think you might have what it takes to operate an authentic working winery? Does the thought of growing grapes, popping corks and sniffing and swirling the nectars of the vine seem a romantic venture? Although I could share some sobering tales with you, I’ll refrain and give a nod to the glass that is half full. Filling it with liquid gold is my neighbor and local vintner Brian Brandt of San Antonio Heights. After a recent visit down the lane, I’m pleased to share the real juice on The Brandt Family Winery (BFW), located at the far northwest corner of the Cucamonga Valley Viticulture Area.

Brian was born in Wiesbaden Germany and has lived in Upland nearly his entire forty-four years of age. He contracted the wine bug approximately 10 years ago. “My first taste of the wine business began in 1998, when my father-in-law Fred Paciocco and I opened the Pacific Wine Merchants, a fine wine and cigar shop in downtown Upland. In 1999, my wife Camille and I moved to our home in San Antonio Heights where we planted approximately 400 vines on one acre of land. I started growing grapes as an experiment,” stated Brian.

About the same time the vines went in, the young Uplander enrolled in a home winemaking and small vineyard management course at UC Riverside. “I began reading every book on winemaking and wine technology that I could get my hands on. I was filling several binders with notes on wine making techniques and practices. In 2000 I made my first home vintage from Zinfandel grapes grown in our own Cucamonga Valley. I produced another Zinfandel in the following year,” shared Brian.

A true vintner at heart, Brian is friendly, keen, focused and possesses great passion for the grape. He’s the real deal and as such he’s building a solid reputation for high quality wines on east 25th Street. An attorney by profession, Brian obtained his undergraduate degrees at UC Santa Barbara and proceeded to study law, graduating in 1988 from the University of Santa Clara. “After that I went into practice with my Dad at the law firm of Maroney and Brandt in Upland. I worked with him until his retirement during the year 1996, when I open up my own practice here in Upland,” he shared. BFW was founded in 2002. We applied for our commercial winery license with the US Department of Treasury’s ATF and that same year we became a licensed and bonded California winery,” said Brian. I have lived in the Cucamonga Valley nearly my entire life. Growing up as a child, this valley was primarily an agricultural region. I still remember our Dad taking us as kids through the ruins of the old Virginia Dare Winery on Foothill Blvd and playing pretend war games with my brother and friends among the abandoned old structures. Later in high school, I spent many summer afternoons after work hunting jack rabbits in the vineyards.

“Sadly, the era of growing grapes may soon be a thing of the past for the historic Cucamonga Valley. However, like the renovated Virginia Dare Winery, I feel good knowing that we are preserving the tradition of winemaking which will survive long after the last vine is pulled to make a way for new development. What excites me most about vinification is that each and every year is different and each harvest presents completely new sets of challenges to overcome, technically, logistically and to a lesser extent artistically,” said Brian.

Ode to Mi Taco; Just one of those places....

Mi Taco was one of those little places that you grow up with....In the 90's when I was driving back down to Irvine to the office from working in the Inland empire courts, I would make sure I always had time to stop by Mi Taco to get something to eat by asking the dispatcher if he was hungry for Mi Taco...that's all I would have to say....Are you hungry for Mi Taco.

Usually I would get an order from every one in the office so I was assured of being able to stop and eat....This unpretentious little eating place was located right next to the Mobile Station on 7th ave to the west of Mountain Ave on the south side....what were my favorite foods to eat....Their Hamburger tacos with taco meat, thousand island dressing, cheese, and dill pickle...I know the dill pickle sounds funny but it just added something special to the hamburger....And they were always two for the price of one, so I would always buy extra to eat at home.

The History of the Madonna of the Trail Monument in Upland;

The Monument in 1950, such a change 

How many times over the years have you stopped at the intersection of Foothill and Euclid in Upland and noticed a Monument in the center divider on the north side of the intersection....I'm sure most of you have never given a thought as to what or whom this monuments is about or decade to.

The monument is called, the Madonna of the Trail Monument....The monument was dedicated on February 1, 1929 and is one of twelve monuments commissioned in twelve different states where the old Santa Fe trail ran.....The monument was rededicated February 9-11, 1979 when it was decided to put in new grass, plants, curbing and Foothill and Euclid were widened and improved.