Images Courtesy of Getty Images and The Library of Congress
In the early 1900s, an area on the fringe of Los Angeles was the epicenter of the American winemaking industry. Known as the Cucamonga Valley, this region was one of the largest wine-growing areas on the entire planet. With more than 20,000 acres of vines spread across the region, which runs along the base of the San Gabriel Mountain range, the landmass was significantly larger than the entire borough of Manhattan. At its height, the region was home to ten major grape-growing areas.
But, for the majority of the past century, Rancho Cucamonga has been known for its shopping malls, industrial parks and low-quality jug wines more than anything else. Now, a winemaking renaissance is underway with well-respected vintners from Napa, Sonoma and the Central Coast producing high-quality wines from the area’s grapes, sourced from some of the earliest vineyards on the West Coast.
These esteemed winemakers include Abe Schoener (LA River Wine Company and Scholium Project), Rajat Parr (Phelan Farms, Sandhi and more), Carol Shelton (Carol Shelton Wines), Mikey and Gina Giugni (Scar of the Sea) and others. Their wines made with Cucamonga grapes have garnered high praise within the industry, a key piece in the growing movement to restore Southern California’s winemaking heritage.