I first visited Galleano Winery several years ago with friends, and was struck at the time by how much it felt like stepping back decades in time. Earlier this year I met Don Galleano and I took him up on his offer to come visit and share some wine. When we drive down Wineville Rd. to get to the winery, we were struck by how green and serene the setting was. Looking around, we saw a vintage gas pump and several pieces of antique farm equipment. We learned later all of it is operational. From the tasting room, we were directed upstairs, where Don, his son Domenic and friends were enjoying the afternoon and shooting the breeze.
The house we visited in was built in 1897 and Don’s grandfather, Domenic bought it in 1927. It’s called The Historic Galleano Winery for a very good reason. It’s the oldest continuously operated family-owned winery in the Cucamonga Valley. Domenic began making wine in the basement of their home, despite the fact that Prohibition was in full swing. At its peak, there were 45,000 acres planted to wine grapes in the valley. Today, there are perhaps 500 – 600. Zinfandel, Alicante Bouschet, Mission and Grenache are all planted on the property today.
Domenic and his friend who helps him with the winemaking took us on a tour of the facility. Massive oak, redwood and concrete tanks fill the rooms, There are a few deer heads on the wall. On another wall is a faded map of Alaska. Why? Because grandfather Domenic used to hunt and fish there. Domenic pulled out a wine thief, actually a length of rubber tubing, and siphoned sherry from his solera. He says it’s the oldest in the state.
Back in the Cantu-Galleano house, we shared more stories and drank more wine. Don and Domenic were judging a wine competition later in the week, and they invited us the watch some of the judging and join them at the dinner. I suggest you visit this slice of history at your earliest opportunity. I can assure you it will be unlike any other winery visit you’ve ever had. If you stop by on the weekend, they may even fire up the outdoor grill.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.