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Vine Country: Bargetto is celebrating its 70th anniversary Oct. 11.

Are You Ready For Some Bocce?

It's all in the family at the upcoming Bargetto 70th anniversary bash

By Christina Waters

They came over the ocean from a small town in northern Italy, Phillip and John Bargetto. It was the late 19th century, and the brothers became partners in an apple ranch near the sunny slopes of Zayante in the remote Santa Cruz Mountains.

One thing led to another and the brothers began making wine out of an old barn in 1918 on the present-day Bargetto property at Soquel Creek. Prohibition hit, but the wine--made for grateful friends and family--continued through the enforced public drought of 1919-1933.

The very day prohibition ended, Bargetto Winery was officially founded and the brothers began delivering barrels of their big red wines to local restaurants. John's son Lawrence stepped up the approach and production during the 1960s and '70s by introducing newer technology into the mix, and today a third generation of Bargettos guides the management of the 50-acre Regan Vinyard Estate, as well as the creation of dozen varietals, specializing in the vintages from the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as Central Coast vineyards.

Bargetto has expanded in the past 70 years, and now produces several lines of fine wine, from the flagship La Vita, a robust blend of estate-grown Italian varietals (this year's release is a blend of dolcetto, rofosco, nebbiolo and merlot), the Bargetto label premiums, a Coastal Cellars line and the lovely dessert wines of the Chaucer's series.

John Bargetto spoke to me fresh from the 2003 pinot noir harvest. "The Regan Vineyard is now fully planted and fully productive," he says. "Seven Santa Cruz Mountain wines are coming from that estate, including two pinots and two merlots."

Bargetto, who plays proud host at the winery's public events, is looking forward to a big crowd at the winery for the 70th anniversary and release of the 1999 La Vita.

"We've definitely grown over the years," he says. "In quantity--we're up to 40,000 cases--and in quality."

Bargetto notes that his family's wines are now sold in every state, and as far away as Costa Rica, Singapore and Tokyo. "But we're still very in touch with every wine."

The 70th anniversary feast includes blackened catfish and lemon-grilled chicken breast, salad, roast red potatoes, live jazz, garlic bread and green salad and of course fine wine. Try your hand at bocce ball. Seventy years--something to be proud about.

Bargetto Winery--Oct 11, 2-6pm $29/$26 wine club members. 3535 N. Main St., Soquel; 831.475.2258.

STORRS SOARS: Come sample four of the top greater Bay Area wines--as judged at this year's prestigious California State Fair competition--at Storrs Winery. The "Best of Region" medals went to the 2001 Ben Lomond Mountain Chardonnay from nearby Bonny Doon; the 2000 San Ysidro Merlot; the 1999 BXR, a Bordeaux-blend red wine; and (one of my personal favorites) the 2000 Rusty Ridge Petite Sirah. Winemakers Pamela and Steve Storrs can be justly proud of their 11 medals at this year's state fair--the latest harvest from their original dream of creating memorable wines from Santa Cruz Mountain grapes. The Storrs Winery tasting room is located in the Old Sash Mill in Santa Cruz in space no. 35 and is open to the public, Thursday-Monday, from noon until 5pm.

SCHOOLHOUSE CAPER: Join fans of bold wines and sophisticated cuisine at the Burrell School Vineyards' "Dinner in the Vineyard Series" on Friday, Oct. 3, 2003, at 5:30pm. The event is a great way to come up and soak up the scenic vistas of a historic winegrowing location. The evening, which costs $75 per person, will begin at 5:30pm with a tour through the vineyard at sunset. Then comes dinner created by Lynn Sheehan, the culinary queen of Sand Rock Farm Bed & Breakfast. Sheehan's multicourse array has been planned to accompany each selected wine made by Dave Moulton, winemaker at Burrell School Vineyards. In case you're curious, Lyman J. Burrell settled at the vineyard site in 1853, and the family donated an acre of their land to found a school in the late 1860s. After the inevitable fire, the existing schoolhouse was rebuilt in 1890. Grapes were planted here by Burrell as early as 1854, which seems to make them the earliest grapes cultivated in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Gorgeous location--and this is the perfect excuse to make an autumn visit. For tickets and information 831.479.WINE.

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From the October 1-8, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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