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A true family of wines

Manteca-based Delicato markets 12 wine brands


Finding a bottle of Delicato wine on the shelf even in Manteca stores and restaurants 15 years ago wasn’t an easy thing to do.

It didn’t matter that the family owned and operated Manteca winery stayed true to roots planted in 1924 by Silcian immigrant Gaspare Indelicato or that it ranks as the sixth largest winery in the United States.

Even today, you might still be a bit hard pressed to find a “Delicato” label but you won’t have that tough of a time finding the family wine. It’s everywhere: Gnarly Head. Twisted. Noble Vines Bota Box. HandCraft Artsian Collection. Irony. Black Stallion. Brazin. Domino. Massimo. Fog Head. Frusion Wine.

The premium portfolio brands are bottled and marketed as Delicato Family Vineyards or DFV Wines. You’ll find DFV Wine marked on all of the bottles.

Delicato wines — even before the family aggressively repositioned itself by offering a wide array of brands and set up their international marketing office in the heart of the Napa Valley — was a smash hit in parts of Europe. Delicato Wines controls 80 percent of the California wine market in Sweden and has beat locally grown wine in competitions in the storied wine regions France and Italy.

The family’s focus has gone from two brands in 2000 to 12 brands today.

Gaspare Indelicato planted his first vines in 1924. The first vintage was in 1935 and generated 3,500 barrels. This fall marks the Indelicato family’s 78th harvest.

That initial vineyard — which still produces — planted the seed for one of California’s largest vineyard empires.

It now includes the fabled San Bernabe Vineyards. Its 11,000 acres that stretch for nine miles in Monterey. It is the world’s most diverse and largest single-owned vineyard.

There are 110 distinct vineyard blocks farmed individually featuring 20 different grape varietals that flourish in a series of micro climates that start with near sea-level, often fog-enshrouded vineyards and work their way up hills to elevations gaining just under 2,000 feet.

Among the Monterey vineyards comes Pinor Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay.

The other major family vineyard is Clay Station Vineyards, some 1,250 acres on the valley’s edge and in the Sierra foothills east of Lodi. The rich, red clay with stone “cobbles” is considered ideal for drainage critical to sweetening the fruit. There are six varietals in the classic Mediterranean climate featuring sunny dry summers and cooling nighttime breezes from the Delta.

DFV Wines also focuses on securing Napa’s varietals as well as accessing grapes from their “ultra-premium regions” —Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County.

The Manteca winery established in 1935 has a crushing capacity of 140,000 tons, storage capacity of 42 million gallons, and a warehouse capacity for 600,000 cases. The winery bottles 3 million cases annually.

Some 230 of DFV Wines’ 350 year-round employees work in Manteca. They also have another 350 seasonal employees.

DFW Wines has one of the top “winery to winery”services in the United States. They serve the top 30 largest premium wine companies. Their services include exclusive brand development, new product development, buyers own label custom blends, and overseas packaging services.

That portion of the business — credited with establishing Delicato Vineyards as a “winemaker’s winemaker” was the handiwork of Gaspare’s three sons — Vincent, Frank and Anthony.

The third generation — Chris, Jay, Cheryl, Frank Jr., Claude, Mike and Marie — get credit for developing the branded wine business, and establishing a global market for DFV Wines.

The family tasting room at the Manteca winery is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is located at Highway 99 and French Camp Road north of Manteca. Call (209) 824-3500 for more information.