padre winery, rancho cucamonga, ca w/photos

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there’s a gentle rain this morning and it’s very quiet around here. the cat is on her perch, curled up in a tight little ball and gently snoring. the brown eyed girl has finally fallen asleep after a tough night of whatever it is she is ailing from. this post first appeared here on the front page almost a year ago. for any number of reasons, i think it’s time once again.

the other day i finally got around to making a trip back to my childhood.  specifically, i had been wanting to take some photos of the old padre winery just down the road in rancho cucamonga, ca.  i’ve mentioned the winery in a few blogs and a fiction piece here but there were no photos in any of them.  so, what i thought i’d do was take some photos and stick them up here then sorta run the deal down one more time.

padre winery has been around since the late 1800’s.  and it was the first winery in california bonded by the feds, allowing them to sell wine and brandy.  the original building is still standing.  amazingly enough even after all the semi sorta large earthquakes that have rumbled through the area.  i guess it gives testament to some thing or another.  over the years the winery has been owned and operated by a few different folks.  it has had a few other names as well.  but to us long time cucmongaites it was and always shall be, padre winery.  sadly, it no longer produces wine.  those days are long gone.

my mother’s parents lived in a house a few hundred yards west of the winery.  that old wonderful house with the root cellar, in which my grandfather made wine and vinegar, no longer stands.  my grandfather worked at padre winery up until the time he retired.  he’d been there for many years.  i spent a lot of time with my grandparents when i was a kid.  soaking up old world italy and wineries.  that is up until the time my folks thought i was old enough to manage on my own during the summer.  though soaking up stuff never ended.   

when my grandfather worked at padre it was owned by the vai brothers.  i loved walking over to the winery and wandering around looking at stuff.  perhaps more importantly smelling the wonderful smells that can only come from a winery.

these days the winery is owned by a local family that has long roots in the area.  wine roots.  they gave it a go trying to make it a producing winery over the years but money being what it is things never panned out.  padre winery is for sale.  there are a few businesses where the old redwood wine vats used to be and it’s kind of sad.  especially to me.  i worked at padre winery myself for a year or so back in the early to mid 70’s.  i’ve recounted that tale as here as well. 

i’d been by the winery a number of times over the years.  once even stopping with the brown eyed girl so she could see the place.  old padre winery.  at any rate, i was alone the other day as i wandered about taking these photos.  alone with my thoughts and my youth. 

as you will see there is still a beauty to the winery.  an elegance and charm not seen these days in much of any kind of architecture.  there was something else present as i walked around.  something mystical and wonderful.  or maybe it was just the fact that padre winery has been around for years and years and saw a huge amount of wine in various stages pass through the grounds.  it was a smell.  the smell.  that wine smell.  a sour tart vinegary musty smell now.  but still a wine smell.  the old girl still has it.  a complete package other than the fact the wine itself is long gone.  the elegance and the smell have stuck to her and she wears them well.

i hope the old lady remains standing.  standing as a monument to old california and old cucamonga.  not swept into some re-development black hole and razed.  re-development.  the good old boy deal where the pols and hucksters make money hand over fist and we the people lose our history and magic that comes with the old things.  old wonderful places like padre winery.

padre winery and the old tasting room.


the old cellars.

the still where the lees and muck were processed into 180 proof alcohol.

the old girl is still looking good.



7 thoughts on “padre winery, rancho cucamonga, ca w/photos

    Gino L. Filippi said:
    November 12, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Excellent story.
    Hope to talk with you soon.


    johnhauge responded:
    November 12, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    thanks, gino.

    flashy Mc loop said:
    December 3, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    defeniately bookmarked

    Bill J said:
    June 28, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Great story and pix. I’ve been trying to find pix of old CA wineries without much luck so I can build a model. Do you have any other shots of the wood portions or of the overall layout? Thanks!!

    johnhauge responded:
    June 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

    thanks for reading and the comment. no, that’s all the photos i have of the winery.

    Eric Olson said:
    March 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Im thrilled to come across this story. At one time a friend of mine and I tried to buy the Padre winery out of bankruptcy but failed. I loved that place and often wish we’d succeeded. I know exactly how it smells in there. I may have known your grandfather – was he the winemaker? If so he was a genius and could make charmat bulk process champagne that was pretty good, even if he had to use thompson grape juice for part of it. Please let me know the current name and anything else that help me locate it again. Who knows maybe I’ll end up buying it after all! eric.olson.mail(at) Thanks for a great story!

    johnhauge responded:
    March 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    eric, thanks for the nice comment. no, my grandfather wasn’t the winemaker. he was just one of the workers there. the champagne was pretty good but the bottle fermented stuff was even better. the winery is still in the same place just west of hermosa ave on 8th st in rancho cucamonga. if i’m not mistaken the biane family still owns it. thanks, again.

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