socal winery jobs part 2

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just like the blog of yesterday this is another re-work of an older blog.  the old one this time around is, ‘crappy jobs  part 3’.  there’s new stuff added to this one as well.  hopefully, you will find it interesting.

before i worked at the winery i wrote about yesterday i had another winery job.  it was at the winery my grandfather worked for many many years.  when the italian half of the family moved from the central valley to socal in 1929 they settled in guasti.  there they started working for secondo guasti.  in later years my grandparents moved from guasti to cucamonga.  my grandfather then got a job with padre winery.  he worked there until he retired.

padre winery was a very old california winery.  it was the first winery in california to be ‘bonded’ by the feds.  that meant the winery was legally able to sell it’s wine to the public.  california’s first bonded winery a rather heady advertising device.  there might be lots of other wineries making better or more expensive stuff but they weren’t california’s first bonded winery. 

as a drift, at one point there used to be some really nice old photos of padre winery on the net.  the place where they used to be has changed and i haven’t a clue as to where the photos have gone.

padre winery still exists.  i doubt anyone would be stupid enough to tear it down.  but there’s plenty of stupid folks out there.  i newed to get some photos of it before anyone does get that stupid.

my grandparents lived in a small home not far from the winery.  at the time the home was surrounded by grape vineyards and peach trees.  i spent lots of time there as a kid.  my grandparents took care of me during the day while the folks were at work.

one of my favorite things to do was walk the several hundred yards from their place to the winery.  in the back of the winery there was the lees pit.  the pit where everything went after everything that could be extracted from the grapes was extracted.  a fairly large pit a few hundred feet across with a dirt berm for sides.  i used to like to climb to the top and walk the edge.  or sit there looking at the san gabriels and surrounding vineyards that stretched for miles.  sitting there imagining all sorts of kid stuff while breathing the in the sour smell from the pit.  i guess i was lucky i didn’t fall in the pit.  all wineries used to have a pit for the lees.    

padre winery is also the setting for a few of the scenes in my, john zen, pi story here in the blog.         

i did various jobs at padre.  the main job was running an antique wine bottle labeling machine.  the thing was ancient but it worked.  you had to constantly tinker with the fucker to get it working just right but it ran ok.  the major problem were the ladies at the end of the bottling line.  always complaining about something or another.  usually that the labels were crooked.  they rarely were but it gave them a break because i had to go find my boss and get him to tell them the labels were ok.  i was just the chump who ran the machine.

that old bottling line was an amazing piece of antique winery machinery at work.  from the filling machine at the beginning to the other end where the wine went into the cases after it was labeled.  actually it wasn’t wine on that line but champagne.  not very good champagne but the bubbly anyways.  or it could either be cold duck or muscat.  equally not one of my favorites.

on a side bar drift.  when the line was humming along with the clinking of the bottles and the clink clank of the machines there was a rhythm to the whole affair that was very nice.  a bit loud but musical in it’s own way.  having been in and out of many a wine bottling area since i was a child i guess the noise/music grew on me.  the closest i can come to it musically would be frank zappa and the mothers tune ‘weasels ripped my flesh’.  most folks hate that tune and the entire lp of the same name.  that would include most zappa heads like myself.  not me though.  ‘weasels ripped my flesh’ is one of my favorites.  the uncanny drone of the tune is the rhythm of a bottling assembly line or probably any other assembly line humming along. 

the winery did make some really good champagne.  the bottle fermented stuff.  really good.  not cheap either.  i dreaded bottling the stuff.   it had to be corked with another antique machine.  a machine that was powered by me.  an odd use of feet, hands and eye co-ordination.  another rhythm deal.  kinda like being a drummer.  only trouble was if you missed a beat you might break the bottle.  it happened a few times every time the stuff got bottled.  once requiring a trip to the emergency room due to glass shards bouncing off my eye ball.   yeah, all this before osha and any sort of safety shit.

the winery’s other claim to fame was some of the best zinfandel ever put into a bottle.  just amazing stuff.  dago red at it’s all time finest.  superb vino.  this got bottled on another line which was a bit newer and easier to operate.  the filling and labeling all done by one machine.  pretty simple but a nasty hand and finger grabbing piece of equipment.  another trip to the emergency room for some stitches on my hand.

when things got slow i’d drive a small panel truck all over socal delivering champagne to hotels and restaurants from downtown los angeles to palm springs.  a piece of shit truck that was so unstable with a load of vino in the back it would almost flip just driving straight down the freeway.  on rain slick streets it was a fight just to keep it on the road and right side up.  especially considering i’d go pick up a friend to keep me company on the driving days and we’d light up the whole time.  yes, i know.  not a sane thing to do but it was a long time ago in a job far far away.

music provided by, the mothers of invention, ‘weasels ripped my flesh’.

jmh

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3 thoughts on “socal winery jobs part 2

    Gino L. Filippi said:
    August 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    John,
    Most interesting story. I know the old winery and the region very well. Thanks!
    Gino

    Gino L. Filippi said:
    August 18, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    John,
    p.s. There is a local Museum in downtown Upland – The Cooper Regional History Museum. There is a lady there named Marilyn Anderson who is the Director. There is an amazing display of old winery artifacts currently. Many old labels from Padre, Vai Bros, etc.

    johnhauge responded:
    August 18, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    gino, thanks for dropping by. i know your work and enjoy it very much. i met marilyn a number of years ago though we’ve as yet been unable to visit the winery display. it’s always something. salute!
    jmh

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