When I first started my so-called Journey of Discovery to learn more about winemaking in Los Angeles, I didn’t realize that the beginning of my trek would take me to a place about as far away from Santa Clarita as I could get and still be part of Los Angeles County – Pomona.
The library at Cal Poly Pomona has numerous Special Collections. One of them, the Wine Industry Collection, is devoted to Southern California wine history. Admittedly, I have not yet visited, but I am planning to rectify that very soon. http://www.csupomona.edu/~library/specialcollections/wine/
Per the website:
“In 1998, the University Library launched a new collecting effort related to Southern California wine history. Cal Poly Pomona is located in an historic winemaking region. Nearby Mission San Gabriel was an active early center for winemaking in California. In the mid-1800s Los Angeles became the first commercial center for California’s wine industry. Later the Cucamonga Valley flourished, and more recently the Temecula and Santa Barbara areas have become recognized for their wine production. Although urban development has made an impact, Southern California remains a significant winemaking area in addition to being home to many important wine competitions, organizations and events.”
The website has an incredible amount of information, which I have not yet begun to exhaust. Another [although not the only] item to mention is information that was provided in an email from Lisa McPheron, Director of Communications & External Relations, The Collins College of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly Pomona. Per Lisa’s email:
“The Collins College of Hospitality Management and the College of Agriculture partner to produce a wine from grapes grown on campus. It’s one of only a few Los Angeles County wines. The Zinfandel vines stem from cuttings from the historic De Ambrogio Ranch before it was destroyed in 2001. We won a gold and a bronze from our 2008 vintages.”
I have long bemoaned the fate of the many old vine zinfandel vineyards from the heyday of Los Angeles wine production and find it heartening to read of their preservation. While I realize this is old news to some, Lisa has given me permission to provide the entire press release about this here:
Cal Poly Pomona Wines Win Gold, Bronze Medals
Horsehill Vineyards is on sale while supplies last at The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch Cal Poly Pomona’s inaugural vintage of Horsehill Vineyards Zinfandel Rosé won the Gold Medal, Best of Class in the Best Rosé Limited Production category at the 70th annual Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition. The 2008 Horsehill Vineyards Zinfandel received a bronze medal.
The rosé will be sampled with other award-winners at the Wine and Cars Under the Stars gala on Saturday, June 20, from 7-11 p.m. at the historic Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at Fairplex in Pomona. Proceeds from this event benefit Fairplex’s Child Development Center, the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts and the Fairplex Education Foundation.
Horsehill Vineyards wine is made from grapes grown on the Cal Poly Pomona campus. The Collins College of Hospitality Management and the College of Agriculture partnered with master winemaker Jon McPherson at South Coast Winery in Temecula to produce and bottle the rosé for the university. Roughly two-thirds of the 2008 harvest yielded 328 cases of Horsehill Vineyards Zinfandel Rosé, which have been sold exclusively at The Collins College’s Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.
Third-generation winemaker Don Galleano used the other third to make a Zinfandel, which aged for about six months in oak barrels at Galleano Winery in Mira Loma. South Coast Winery bottled 30 cases of the Zinfandel in April, which will be available this fall at the restaurant. The Zinfandel won a bronze in the category Limited Production Zinfandel from 2007 or later.
Horsehill Vineyards’ grapes come from prize-winning Zinfandel cuttings from the historic De Ambrogio Ranch in Rancho Cucamonga. During the local wine industry’s heyday in the 1940s, the Cucamonga Valley floor was covered with 40,000 acres of vineyards. Early settlers recognized in the mid-1800s that the region’s sandy soil and favorable climate would promise dependable harvests. However, by the 1990s, the Inland Empire underwent a massive building boom and ranchland became far more profitable as residential and commercial real estate.
By 2001, the land devoted to vines dwindled below 800 acres. Before the De Ambrogio Ranch was sold off for development, Galleano combed the fields near the Rancho Cucamonga Civic Center and selected 400 grapevine cuttings, some of them nearly 100 years old. To preserve the valley’s wine-making tradition, Galleano donated the cuttings to Cal Poly Pomona, where they have been cultivated on about three acres by faculty, staff and students in the College of Agriculture. Proceeds from the wine sales support a culinary garden at Cal Poly Pomona and the ongoing production of Horsehill Vineyards wine. Produce from the garden is incorporated into the menu at the Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.
Order forms for the rosé are available at www.horsehill.csupomona.edu. For more information, contact Lisa McPheron at (909) 869-3151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to me again. As I am starting to learn more about the history of Los Angeles winemaking, this special collection should prove to be an invaluable resource. I am looking forward to visiting, as well as spending more time on the website.
Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.