Bargetto Winery

Supplying Dreams for the Future

Bargetto Winery

Celebrating 80 years at their family winery in Santa Cruz and over 100 as winemakers in the San Francisco Bay area, the Bargetto family takes the long view backward and forward in time, analyzing past errors and creating future goals for family members, who are currently engaged with the business. The business is a partnership between the deceased, those who currently run the business, and future generations born and unborn. At this point, a past-future consciousness comes naturally to family members, given that so many generations have made their livings from this business. Among five siblings, three now run Bargetto Winery. Brother Martin is the President. A sister works in administration, and John looks after their 50-acre vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Corelitos on a knoll overlooking Monterey Bay. John also shares marketing responsibilities with Martin. What they call a “dream” for the future is more of a mandate, whether for themselves or a future generation, to build another winey in their vineyard, which is 15 miles from the current historic one. “I imagine a new winery in the vineyard, built of sandstone with semi-gothic architecture, overlooking the mountains and the bay,” John says. Put in these terms, as a “dream,” the goal doesn’t intimidate anyone. It will happen in good time.

When their mother Beverly Regan Bargetto died at the beginning of this year at 89-years old, John began to think of a book about the family that he could dedicate to her. The book is now a reality, but John points out that it is as much a history of the California wine business as it is about the family. It begins with their immigrant forbearers, who left Piemonte, Italy in 1890, along with countless others, and continues with Prohibition which had an enormous impact on anyone in the wine business. Then World War II robbed the country of a labor force that was diverted to the war effort, and followed by the collapse and rebirth of the modern California wine business in the 1960s.The book culminates with the family’s purchase of the Corelitos vineyard, which not surprisingly was the dream of their father.

This iconic American story begins with what John calls “the pioneers,” Giuseppe the father and his son Fillipo, who traveled together to the New World in 1890 and landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains for whatever reason immigrants land in any particular place. Probably someone they knew from their village had arrived before them and sent back word that a good life was possible there. Fillipo and his uncle Giovanni, eventually founded a winery in San Francisco, the Montebello Vineyard and Wine Company, transporting grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara County by rail to San Francisco, where they worked their magic in the winery, one of many businesses to supply the San Francisco market between 1909 and 1918.

John refers to the next generation as “the founders” of Bargetto Winery. Brothers Fillipo and Giovanni, who was John’s grandfather, left San Francisco and set up a winery in Santa Cruz on the site where the winery is today. They also bought a 50-acre ranch up the road and opened two retail wine shops in Santa Cruz where they sold their wine along with gin. “This is back in the 30s and 40s when people drank booze as much as they did wine,” John comments.

But John’s grandfather eventually sold the ranch, a big mistake John laments, which John and his brother were able to correct when they purchased the Corelitos vineyard. “I can’t yell at my grandfather,” John says, although it’s impossible to imagine him “yelling” at anyone, least of all the dead, given his calm, respectful, and affectionate manner. “Keep in mind that his son was off in war, and his brother Fillipo had died a few years earlier. He was trying to do it all himself, and it was just too much. Do I wish he had held on to that land and planted it all to grapes? It was 50 acres, so think about that. Ironically our cousins bought four acres out of that 50 ten years ago, so part of it is back in the family. But the rest is in apples and residential housing.”

In this saga, John calls his father “the savior” because when he took over in the 1960s together with his brother Ralph, “the tanks were empty; the business was full of debt; the wine boom hadn’t hit yet; and my father took the risk of his lifetime to make a go of it. He really shifted things around, moved into premium wines, opened two retail stores, one here and one in Monterey, and got us on course again.” John’s father was buying grapes while at the same time dreaming of buying a vineyard of his own. “He came close. He planted some smaller vineyards. And of course he owned the land at the winery, which his father and uncle had purchased. We never lost that.”

John’s generation purchased the Corelitos vineyard in 1990, which he speaks of with pride. “Now it was our turn, and we got the Santa Cruz Mountain vineyard established so that we have a full-blown estate wine program.” In their own Corelitos vineyard they cultivate Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. And in keeping with the family heritage, they grow the northern Italian varieties Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and Refosco for their La Vita blend. They farm the land sustainably because it is not only theirs but belongs to family members who will take over next. They use biodiesel and solar electricity, and they build the soil with compost. “These are good sustainable practices that protect the soil, the land, and the vines. It’s not a bunch of fluff. We do not use pesticides, but we use the herbicide Roundup, which is a pretty soft herbicide for weeds. We could hoe every weed out there, but now we’re talking about a lot more labor, and it’s hard enough to make a living with what we’re doing.”

The winery’s case production is 30,000 between what they make from their estate vineyard and the grapes that they purchase from others. Fifteen years ago “before a couple of big recessions,” the winery peaked at 47,000 cases. “But we’ve also gone upscale, and we’re making finer wines like a lot of California wineries. We reduced our case production, but we’re selling a lot more high-end wines that go for $25, $30, and $60 a bottle.”

The Santa Cruz Mountain appellation is well-known and respected in the San Francisco Bay Area for its intense, high-altitude wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. But John explains that a lot of the wine is sold in Northern California because the mountainous terrain prohibits big vineyards. “Until we produce more wine and sell it nationally in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, it’s going to be hard to establish a bigger reputation for the appellation.” But he says that the “Pinot Noir craze” has given the area more attention. The only larger wineries are Ridge Vineyards, David Bruce, and Mount Eden. “Everyone else is a mom-and-pop business.”

So has their generation made any mistakes? “Yes,” John admits. They discontinued making Zinfandel for about ten years, “and we should not have because the wine continued to grow in importance, especially old-vine Zinfandel. In the mid 80s, my brother and I agreed that we would focus on Santa Cruz Mountains varietals, especially Pinot Noir, and let Zinfandel go by the wayside. Pinot turned out to be a good bet, but we weren’t that clued into old vine Zin.” But for the last 15 years, they have been buying Zinfandel grapes from Lodi, which is the site of some of the oldest Zinfandel vineyards in California. The sandy soils there prohibited the phylloxera infestation that destroyed vineyards throughout California in the 1990s. When time is on your side, mistakes can be corrected.

California Wines of the Month


Artisan Series

Bargetto Winery- 2010 Central Coast Merlot

Winemaker Michael Sones’ Notes

California has many different growing regions within its borders. Those moderated by the cool coastal climate develop wines of intensity and depth not found in the inland regions. From these cool regions along the Central Coast, we select fruit for our wines, capturing robust aromas and rich supple flavors. Most of the grapes for this Merlot were harvested from the Meeker vineyard in Paso Robles; 5% came from Lodi and 4% from our Regan Estate Vineyard. The wine shows rich ruby color, and a nose filled with spices, licorice, cinnamon, and plums, followed by and underlying aroma of leather, menthol, and vanilla. At first the taste is smoky but then finishes with ripe red berries. Smooth tannins caress the mouth until a light acidity kicks in (13.5% alcohol, 24.5 degrees brix, 5.25 g/L total acidity, 3.71 pH).

Anna Maria’s Notes

Subtlety and finesse distinguish all of Bargetto wines. They have strong varietal identity and are beautifully balanced with fruit flavors, acid, tannins, and oak, each component complementing the whole, and alcohol levels are moderate. This wine was aged for 16 months in large upright French oak puncheons to soften tannins but at the same time preserve delicious Merlot flavors. This is a versatile red and will complement all but the mildest dishes.

Bargetto Winery- 2012 California Pinot Grigio

Winemaker Michael Sones’ Notes

Starting in 1993, Bargetto was one of the first California wineries to produce Pinot Grigio. The 2012 vintage is a balanced blend of grapes from two very different regions: 47% from the hot-climate Arbor Vineyards in Lodi and 44% from cool-climate Paraiso Vineyards in Monterey. The color of this wine is light with only a slight straw hue. Ripe grapefruit, tropical lychee, quince, guava and white peach take over the initial aromas. These fruity aromas are followed by a very clean minerality, noticed as the wine opens up. The palate is fresh and fruity dominated by flavors of pears, granny smith apples, melons and pineapple. Light and bright with crisp acidity, the palate is influenced by the cool-climate grapes grown in Monterey County. It also has a richness that lingers on the finish. Best pairings include, but are not limited to, Asian dishes, seared Ahi, oysters and dinner salads (13.9% alcohol, 24.2-25.2 degrees brix, 6.0 g/L total acidity, 3.50 pH).

Anna Maria’s Notes

The Bargetto family was producing Pinot Grigio long before it became the second most consumed white wine in the U.S., followed by Sauvignon Blanc in third place. John Bargetto points out that consumption continues to grow for all the reasons that you’ll appreciate when you taste this deliciously refreshing white wine. Serve chilled.

Winemaker Series

Bargetto Winery- 2006 Santa Cruz County Chardonnay

Winemaker Michael Sones’ Notes

Bargetto Winery’s Regan Estate Vineyard is located on a southwest slope in the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking the majestic Monterey Bay. This cool climate vineyard allows the grapes to develop rich and complex flavors over an exceptionally long growing season. These distinct and age–worthy wines from Regan Vineyards reflect this unique location. We are committed to sustainable winegrowing practices, such as cover crops, biodiesel solar electricity, and biological pest control. Most of the fruit for our 2006 Santa Cruz County Chardonnay, 92%, came from this vineyard and the rest from Scheid Vineyards and Smith Vineyards in Monterey. The wine has aged beautifully and has the color of golden straw. The aroma begins with sweet French oak and butterscotch followed by lovely gala apple, lemon, and a touch of melon on the end. The palate is full-bodied and dry. The oak shows early, but then gives way to fruit and finishes with a crisp acidity. The wine is a lovely balanced Chardonnay from Santa Cruz County with thoroughly integrated and mellowed flavors. This wine would pair well with a variety of foods, such as salmon, chicken, and mushroom based dishes as well as assorted cheeses (13.5% alcohol, 21.2 degrees brix, 6.0 g/L total acidity, 3.5 pH).

Anna Maria’s Notes

When Chardonnay is made well, it is capable of aging. The Bargetto 2006 Santa Cruz County Chardonnay was bottled in 2008 and is not for sale. John Bargetto took the wine from his library collection for our enjoyment. Serve this elegant wine chilled.

Bargetto Family Estate – 2008 La Vita, Santa Cruz Mountains, Regan Vineyards

Winemaker Michael Sones’ Notes

Bargetto Winery produces a special wine called La Vita, meaning “the life” in Italian. La Vita is a unique blend of northern Italian red varietals, which are all grown in the Regan Estate Vineyards. The 2008 vintage is made up of 56% Dolcetto, 20% Nebbiolo, and 24% Refosco. This handcrafted wine was aged for two years in oak barrels and puncheons and then aged an additional two years in the bottle prior to release. The 2008 La Vita introduces itself with a rich deep ruby color. The nose begins with cedar, oak, subtle earthiness, and spices, including cinnamon and cloves. As the wine opens up, the aromas continue to develop with black licorice and dried cranberries. This wine is very fruit forward due to the ripeness of the 2008 harvest. The palate starts with ripe cherries and plums and finishes with layers of oak, pecans, salted caramel, and candied cherries. The combination of long barrel aging and ripe fruit allows this wine to fill your mouth with complex flavors and silky tannins. These tannins allow many years of aging and enjoyment (14.4% alcohol, 24.7 degrees brix, 6.25 g/L total acidity, 3.55 pH).

Anna Maria’s Notes

The 2008 La Vita label features Michelangelo’s Bacchus, created between 1496 and 1498. The label shows just the bust, but the complete figure looks a bit unstable and softly androgynous, a classic portrayal of the Roman god. A small hip-high satyr, nibbling grapes in back of Bacchus, seems to be helping him maintain his balance. John Bargetto explains that the La Vita Art Series has three components. Each vintage features a different work of art, is a unique blend, and expresses the family’s desire to give back to the community. Every year, the family gives $5000 from La Vita sales to a different non-profit in the Santa Cruz community. In 2008, the recipient was Shakespeare Santa Cruz, a 30 year-old festival that takes place in an outdoor theater at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The winery made just 398 cases of this deliciously elegant wine. Serve at cool room temperature.

Bargetto Winery- 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains, Regan Vineyards Reserve

Winemaker Michael Sones’ Notes

Fruit for the Bargetto Winery 2009 Reserve Merlot was harvested from estate Regan Vineyards except for 5% of the fruit, which came from the Martin Ray vineyard. The wine is 95% Merlot with the addition of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and shows ruby red color around the edges that shifts to the darkest of garnets in the middle. The aroma carries fresh blackberries and black currants with some earthy tones of wet leather and tobacco leaves. The mouth is filling and has a long finish. The oak aging lends its hand with notes of caramel and vanilla on the palate to accompany those fresh dark berries. This wine is built to accompany food. The tannins and acid make it stand up to most anything that is rich and meaty (14.5% alcohol, 24.7 degrees brix, 6.25 g/L total acidity, 3.55 pH).

Anna Maria’s Notes

Michael Sones aged this wine and the 2008 La Vita in oak barrels with only 33% of them new. In other words, he gives the wine a lengthy aging but chooses a small percentage of new barrels, which would otherwise impart too much flavor and mask the estate’s beautiful fruit. John Bargetto points out that today, vineyard designation is more important than a “Reserve” designation because “Reserve” doesn’t have a formal definition. Yet for Bargetto Winery, “Reserve” is an important descriptor. “The wines are aged in the best barrels. We select the best fruit. And when we do the blending, we choose the best lots of wine. It really is a reserve in our case, not just a marketing ploy,” he explains. The winery made just 306 cases of this delicious and food-friendly 2009 Regan Vineyards Reserve Merlot.

Menu of the Month


 

Evening Menu for the Dog Days of summer

First Course

Assorted organic mushrooms, thinly sliced and dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon with a sprinkle of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, accompanied by freshly made baguettes

Main Course

A dinner salad with organic baby spinach leaves, composed on a large platter with sliced potatoes, quartered tomatoes, slices of cucumber, sliced red onions, halved seedless grapes, shrimp, and finally salmon at the top, all dressed with a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, and sprinkled with capers and chopped Italian parsley

Dessert

Local cheeses and chilled stone fruit

Recipe of the Month


Composed Dinner Salad

The name for salad is derived from its dressing, sal or salt and goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who sprinkled salt and olive oil on mixed greens. Over time, salads evolved into more complicated assemblages of vegetables, eggs, and meat, known as composed salads, which have been popular since the 18th Century. Beautiful, delicious, and light, the composed salad is especially suited to summertime dining. The dinner salad in our menu features shrimp and salmon. But you can substitute any fish or poultry.

Ingredients

6 large hand-full’s of baby spinach leaves

Six new potatoes, boiled and sliced

3 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges

2 medium cucumbers, pealed & sliced

1 cup grapes, cut in half

15 medium to large shrimp

1 pound filleted sockeye salmon

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice from one lemon

1 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt to taste

Lemon wedges for garnish

Directions

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, & salt. Simmer potatoes with skins until cooked but still firm, cool & slice into circles. Peel & devein shrimp, leaving tails in tact, and briefly simmer in boiling water until pink. Poach, bake, or grill salmon fillet until cooked. Remove to cutting board, cool, and with sharp knife, slice across the fillet into six pieces. Mound the baby spinach leaves on large platter. Attractively place groups of potatoes, tomatoes, & cucumbers around the edges of the platter. Scatter the grapes over the salad. Tuck shrimp into the greens, and with a large spatula, place slices of salmon together over the top of the salad. Drizzle salmon, potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes with the dressing. Scatter capers over the salmon and potatoes and finely chopped parsley over the entire surface of the salad, including salmon. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 6.