Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
Distinctive, refreshing, and continuously evolving with innovative winemaking
Giuseppe Bargetto arrived in America in 1890 in search of a better life. Times were tough in his homeland of northern Italy and he’d heard stories about America and its life of opportunity and prosperity. As a vineyard owner in Piedmont, Italy, Giuseppe 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 awaited him and 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 and he quickly found work at a small winery south of San Francisco. Philip’s great uncle Giovanni was the next to emigrate, and they both worked at the winery until 1905 when they decided to open one of their own named South Montebello Vineyard and Wine Company.
In 1909, Philip paid for his younger brother John to come to California and help out with the new family business. Soon after he arrived, the Bargetto family purchased 4 acres of land and began growing wine grapes, fruits and vegetables. They sold their wine and produce to the small but growing community of European immigrants who had collected in the San Francisco area. The wine they produced was more like a large home-winemaking operation than it was a winery, but it was still of very good quality and became popular in the local community.
During Prohibition (1919 to 1933), the Bargetto brothers continued to make wine for family and friends while also selling produce and growing apples at the family ranch in Soquel (near Santa Cruz). In 1920, they purchased the present site of Bargetto Winery along the banks of the Soquel Creek and planted additional fruit and grapevines.
In the early 1930’s, when it appeared that Prohibition would be repealed, the two brothers, Philip and John, planned a quick return into the commercial wine business.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 the Repeal, they founded Bargetto Winery.
Being the first and only winery in the Santa Cruz area to open after Prohibition, Bargetto Winery hit the ground running. The Bargettos continued to sell fruits and vegetables on the side, but wine quickly became the main focus for the family. They also operated as a wine wholesale business and delivered their wine in barrels to local establishments.
In 1936, Philip Bargetto passed away suddenly and John was left as the sole owner of the business. He continued the winery operations on a modest scale, keeping overall production under 5,000 cases throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s. After World War II, John was joined by his sons Ralph and Lawrence who helped out with production, marketing, and sales. Now with more horsepower behind the winery, the facility was able to expand and production doubled by the early 1950’s.
The Bargetto winemaking heritage continued with Lawrence during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Lawrence provided key vision for the winery by introducing modern improvements such as refrigerated stainless steel fermentation, and barrel aging. Furthermore, he expanded the production of Santa Cruz Mountain’s varietals by adding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, drawing from local outstanding sites such as Vine Hill Vineyards. He also introduced the Chaucer’s line of dessert-style wines under the Bargetto brand.
Lawrence’s death in 1982 pushed the winery into yet another era of Bargetto family management which 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 at the time was managing a wine shop in Sacramento to gain retail sales and management experience. He immediately returned to the family winery to assume the role of General Manager and help his mother continue the ground work set by his father. Martin’s brothers, John and Richard, have since come on board and together direct the winemaking and operation of the winery.
Today, the Bargetto Winery stands as the oldest continuously operated winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains, celebrating their 79th anniversary this year. The family’s pioneering spirit and dedication to tradition has kept their brand distinctive, refreshing, and continuously evolving with new varietals, blends, and innovative winemaking throughout the years. With forty estate acres planted, two established tasting rooms, and more medals than one can count, Bargetto celebrates three generations of family tradition and incredible, historical winemaking success in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
A Note from John Bargetto
Dear Platinum Series Members,
My understanding is that as a Platinum Series member you receive some of the very finest wines offered by GMWC. Congratulations, as you are now receiving Bargetto Winery’s very finest wine!
In 1995, we set out to produce a truly unique wine of the world... and did so by planting three unique Italian varieties in our estate vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. These three are: Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and Refosco. Eventually, we developed a proprietary name for this Cal-Ital wine...LA VITA, meaning “LIFE” in Italian. After two and one half years of barrel aging, the wines are blended and bottled to create a distinctive wine.
LA VITA is an art series wine, in which we choose a unique artwork that depicts “Wine in art” through the ages. The 2006 LA VITA features the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya. A final component of LA VITA is that Bargetto Winery gives part of the proceeds of the sale to a local non-profit each year. 2006 vintage benefits CASA which advocates for young children.
The 2006 LA VITA is deep ruby in color, spicy complexity in bouquet and explosive with ripe fruit flavors. The 2006 vintage won the greatest award ever on LA VITA: Double Gold, Best of Class and 98 Points from the CA State Wine Competition.
As we near our 80th anniversary of producing fine Santa Cruz Mountains wines, I hope you will visit our historic winery in Soquel (Santa Cruz Co), CA and in the mean time learn more about us by visiting us online at www.bargetto.com.
Paul Wofford - Winemaker
Paul Wofford has been Bargetto Winery's winemaker for 11 years. Under his winemaking prowess, Bargetto wines have won over 200 medals in the wine-trade competitions, and earned countless praise and recognition from wine writers across the country.
Paul, a fourth generation Californian, grew up in the central valley and attended nearby Fresno State University. There he received a degree in Geology and continued his graduate studies in Geology and Enology.
In 1997 Paul landed his first winery position at Clos Du Val in Napa, where he worked as Cellar-master. Having gained thorough knowledge of red wine production at Clos Du Val, he turned his attention to white wines by moving south to Zaca Mesa Winery in Santa Barbara county. In 1982 he jumped at a chance to work as winemaker for one of California's higher profile "boutique” wineries, Martin Ray Vineyards in the Santa Cruz mountains.
His collective experience made him an attractive target for Bargetto Winery, who wooed him away in 1986. At Bargetto, Paul has had free reign to develop and expand the winery's offerings. His efforts have been nationally and internationally recognized for producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer.
Paul met his wife Ann at Bargetto Winery where she is a Wine Counselor. They have two young boys and live in nearby Soquel.
More about The Bargetto Family
The history of Bargetto Winery has truly been a big family affair. Over its sixty-plus year history, the torch has passed from one generation to another, from one family member to another.
Italian vineyard owner Joseppi 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 which 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 ground work 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's, 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 Chaucer's fruit-wine brand manager and is also directing the winery's sales efforts in the Midwest.
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, 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 yet to come to help guide the winery through its next sixty years!