i’ve been on a so cal winery binge, as it were, the past few days. i’ve been on it been before. the last two were old stuff from the vault. this blog is new stuff and will soon be in that same vault. i’ve been wanting to do this blog for a long time. what made it happen was i finally got serious about finding a few more photos to make the blog more complete. plus, when we drove by the winery, or what used to be the winery, on christmas day my 93 year old dad told me a story i hadn’t heard before or more than likely had forgotten.
virginia dare winery was one of the staples in the winery making history of so cal and cucamonga to be specific. it was owned and operated by the garrett and co out of new york city. they were the folks who bought secundo guasti’s winery in guasti as well. garrett and co owned them both for a number of years. they eventually sold out to united fruit co. who sold out to…yeah, the wine business never was a big money maker. not like it is today. well, for a few wineries.
back in the day virgina dare winery was one of those lovely pieces of old california architecture. you can see that from the photos i found. the primary eye catcher was the semi sorta almost church like steeple. today, the old winery is long gone. it was razed back in the late 70’s and/or in the early 80’s to become a shopping center. thankfully, the local pols of cuca had enough sense to incorporate the old steeple in the new design. i wonder if any of the current bunch would have that much sense? but that’s a veer.
before i forget i need to tell my dad’s story about the place. after he got out of the army in 1946 he went to work for garrett and co as a carpenter. he worked in guasti and at the virginia dare winery up in cucamonga. the winery stood on the northwest corner of route 66 and haven ave. in those days the area was nothing but vineyards. it was still nothing but vineyards when i was going to chaffey college back in the late 60’s. more drifting.
my dad had put a new roof on one of the buildings in guasti. the bosses thought he had done a bang up job so they wanted him to put a new roof on the virginia dare steeple. he figured he would have use a ladder to get to the upper windows and then crawl outside one of them somehow and toss a rope over the roof which would have to be anchored to the other side. then he would have to climb the rope to get up on the roof. plus how was he going to get the materials up there safely? he told them he wouldn’t do it. it was to dangerous. he stood his ground and he didn’t do the roof or get fired for not doing it. at any rate, by the middle of the 1950’s virginia dare winery was closed.
the winery’s next claim to fame or at least around these parts occurred in late 1963(?). the old great tv show ‘combat!’ filmed an episode there. one of my all time favorite shows and one of my favorite episodes as well, ‘the hunter’. the episode aired in the second season on 2/25/64. though on another site they claim it aired in the third season. the thing about it is, if it was indeed the second season none of my friends or myself would not have been old enough to drive there and visit the filming. which we did. in the grand scheme of things i guess it really doesn’t matter.
what does matter is one of the sites says the winery was ‘the mission winery’ in cucamonga not virginia dare. they also claim the winery is still in business. like i said, the winery is long gone and the only business going on there now is a small shopping center. the original place is long gone.
at any rate, it was fun going up to the winery after school to stand outside the chain link fence and watch them film that episode of ‘combat!’. one evening after the days filming was done a few of my mates followed vic morrow back to the motel he was staying at here in upland. they just wanted his autograph. he wasn’t very happy or friendly about being tailed and told them all to fuck off. oh, well. as a side light, at one point in time i worked with an ex hollywood stuntman who also did location casting for tv and movie companies. he found the old virginia dare winery for the ‘combat!’ folks. i remember an old b/w photo he showed me of him sitting in a lincoln convertible in the courtyard of the old virgina dare winery.
the other virginia dare winery claim to video/tv fame came in 1967 when the tv show ‘the rat patrol’ used the winery and the area around it for an episode. i’m not sure but i think the episode in question is ‘the fire and brimstone raid’, season 1 episode 31. i can’t find any photos or any info on the net about it other than what’s here. i want to thank my friend, dfr, for reminding me ‘the rat patrol’ filmed an episode at the winery.
by the time “combat!” and ‘the rat patrol’ filmed there the winery was about to fall apart. it was the perfect setting for a winery that had seen better days before living through a world war 2 ravaged europe. in it’s last days virginia dare winery became a place for kids to go and smoke dope and other wise party. which is probably why the city razed the old hauntingly beautiful place. i miss the winery and all of it’s splendor and history of my youth.
an old virginia dare print ad.
virginia dare winery and the steeple.
an aerial photo of the winery. route 66 is the road at the bottom of the picture.
more or less what the place looked like during the tv filming.
a nice shot apparently taken not long after it got it’s new life as a shopping center. the grapes in the foreground are long gone.
virginia dare winery as it is today.