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Bargetto Winery - Santa Cruz Mountains


La Buona vita: The Bargetto Family Winery is 73 Years Old and Still Growing

Giuseppe Bargetto arrived in America in 1890 in search of a better life. Times were tough in his homeland of northern Italy during the late 1800’s. He heard stories about America and its life of opportunity and prosperity. As a vineyard owner in Piedmont, Italy, he was particularly intrigued by the reports of rich, fertile soil and wide-open land of the California territory. After he arrived, it didn’t take long for Giuseppe to be convinced of the potential that waited. He promptly went back to Italy to spread the word. Giuseppe’s sons, Philip and John were keenly interested in what their father had discovered and soon found their way to California. Philip was the first of the brothers to arrive in 1891. He quickly found work at Casa Delmas, the leading winery in the Santa Clara Valley, south of San Francisco. In 1910, Philip’s uncle, Giovanni, and Philip together operated the original Bargetto Winery which was located in what today would be downtown San Francisco.

In 1909 Philip paid for his younger brother John to come to California. John settled into the sunny town of Soquel in Santa Cruz County. Soon after he arrived, the Bargetto clan purchased 4 acres of land along the Soquel Creek fruits and vegetables. They sold their produce and wine to the growing community of European immigrants whom had collected in the San Francisco area. As Prohibition appeared more evident they closed the San Francisco winery and moved permanently down to Santa Cruz. They continued selling wine to the community until Prohibition hit in 1919. In the1920s, Philip and John together purchased a 40-acre ranch in the hills above Soquel where they grew fruits and grapes.

In the early 1930’s, when it appeared that Prohibition would be repealed, the two brothers, Philip and John, planned a quick return into the commercial wine business. On December 5, 1933, the very day of Repeal, they founded the Bargetto Winery.

Being the first and only winery in the area to open after Prohibition, their business flourished. They sold fruits and vegetables too, but clearly wine was the biggest part of their business. Consumer wine knowledge was very limited, so the wines made were mostly generic and delivered in barrels to local establishments. However, even from the beginning the Bargetto’s finest wines were bottled as varietals such as Zinfandel and Riesling. Philip died suddenly in 1936, leaving John to direct the operation for the ensuing years. He continued the winery operations on a modest scale keeping overall production under 5,000 cases throughout the 1930’s and mid 1940’s. After World War II, John’s sons, Lawrence and Ralph, became involved in the winery. Lawrence concentrated on the production and quality control, while Ralph focused on the marketing and sales. Now with more horsepower behind the winery, the facility was expanded and production doubled by the early 1950’s. Grapes were harvested from various vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, including the famous Vine Hill vineyard, from which very fine Chardonnay and Sylvaner was produced.

In 1966 Lawrence developed what was then an experimental wine made from different varieties of fruit. His first batch was made from Santa Rosa plums grown locally. Its instant success led to the quick development of additional fruit wine offerings, and by the early 1970’s Bargetto was producing a dozen different varieties. In later years the brand Chaucer’s would be developed to market these super premium dessert style fruit wines. Lawrence’s death in 1982 pushed the winery into yet another era of Bargetto family management that remains intact to this day. Beverly Bargetto stepped into her husband’s shoes to assume the leadership role. She also enlisted her eldest son, Martin, who in order to gain retail sales and management experience was managing a wine shop in Sacramento. He immediately returned to the family winery to assume the role of General Manager and help his mother continue the groundwork set by his father. In 1984, after graduating from U.C. Davis in enology, John Bargetto returned to the winery to take over the reins as winemaker. Later in 1992 John established the Regan Vineyards estate vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Now the family would be in position to grow their own Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Merlot to expand the production of these varietals. In addition, Pinot Grigio and a few northern Italian red varietals were planted in keeping with the family’s Italian heritage.

The mainstay of the Bargetto label over the last two decades primarily has been with four varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. Merlot was added to the winery’s offerings in the 1990s and has established itself as the best selling varietal. In fact, today Bargetto produces three Merlots: Bargetto Central Coast Merlot, Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot and the finest, the Santa Cruz Mountains

Michael Sones has been Bargetto Winery’s winemaker for 3 years. Michael has extensive experience having worked at other Santa Cruz Mountains wineries including Bonny Doon and David Bruce. Under his winemaking prowess, Bargetto continues to build its reputation as a leading Santa Cruz Mountains winery. Bargetto’s production today hovers around 45,000 cases.


  1. Bargetto
    2004 Pinot Grigio
    Bargetto
    Santa Cruz Mountains
    Monterey County

    $14.00

    Multiple Medal winner
    id: 58
    Special
    Gold

Giuseppe Bargetto and family

The history of Bargetto Winery has truly been a big family affair. Over its near seventy-five year history, the torch has passed from one generation to another, from one family member to another. Italian vineyard owner Giuseppe Bargetto was the catalyst who spurred sons Phillip and John to immigrate to America in the early 1900’s. The two sons literally rooted their future to the land of Santa Cruz County. They were rugged individuals who carved their niche into the new country by using the land to grow and sell vegetables, grapes and other fruits. They worked hard and persevered through the rough times of The Depression and Prohibition. The brothers’ wherewithal gave them a head start in the California wine business, opening the Bargetto Winery the very day Prohibition was repealed. After Phillip’s death, brother John Bargetto kept the winery alive and well through World War II.

John’s sons, Lawrence and Ralph became involved with the winery after the war and together they set the tone for the next 30 years. They brought modern production methods and sales savvy to the winery operations. Lawrence was a pre-med student who introduced science to the craft, creating the testing lab, improving and maintaining the quality of their wines. Ralph handled the business end introducing new channels of distribution, broadening exposure and increasing sales to handle the growing production.

Lawrence brought about significant change to the winery’s direction by pioneering Bargetto Winery’s popular dessert fruit wines in the mid 1960’s. Lawrence’s death in 1982 pushed the winery into yet another era of Bargetto family management that remains intact to this day.

Beverly Bargetto stepped into her husband’s shoes to assume the leadership role. Even though she was still raising five children when Lawrence passed away, she wasn’t about to relinquish the winery to someone outside of the family. After 30 years of marriage and assisting Lawrence with virtually every long-range strategy decision, she was willing and able to rise to the challenge.

She solicited the help of her eldest son, Martin, who at the time was just beginning to learn the ropes of the family business. Martin studied viticulture at U.C. Davis, in the late 1970’s and worked briefly at Tepusquet Vineyards in Santa Barbara County. After graduating, he managed a wine shop in Sacramento to gain retail sales and management experience. In 1982 he returned to the family winery immediately after his father’s untimely death. Martin assumed the role of General Manager and helped his mother continue the groundwork set by his father.

Shortly after, in 1984, Martin’s younger brother, John, entered the picture. Growing up, John worked in the Bargetto wine cellar where he learned a bit of winemaking. He later continued his winemaking education by going through U.C. Davis’, enology program. After graduating, John returned to the family winery to become winemaker. As winemaker, he directed the modernization of the winery’s cellar operation and drastically improved its efficiency. He is currently the Director of Winemaking, Brand Manager and is also heading up the winery’s sales efforts.

Lawrence and Beverly’s third son, Richard, is an attorney and serves as the winery’s in-house counsel. He also manages the office administration and heads up the direct mail program. Daughter Loretta helps with the winery’s Wine Club program. Youngest daughter, Donna, is a Dean at a private girl’s school in San Francisco and is not actively involved in the winery at the present time. Beverly’s nephew, Tom, has been with the family operation since the late 1970’s. He worked in production initially and is now directing the local area sales and developing the winery’s efforts in the Southeastern U.S. Two other nephews, Peter and Paul, were also once involved with Bargetto Winery, and then started their own winery, Soquel Vineyards, in 1987.

Make no mistake about it; Bargetto Winery is a family affair through and through! And with good reason we’re pretty sure there are little Bargettos waiting to help guide the winery through its next sixty-five years!

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