When you hear the word Cucamonga used in a song or a joke it implies it’s a far off distant land that really does not exist. It’s like referring to something as residing in the “The North 40.” Where is this place?
The Cucamonga Valley does exist, about 45 miles east of Los Angeles where Vineyards were planted in 1838. As far back as the 1940s the area hosted 60 wineries with over 35,000 acres of vineyards. Today, according to AppellationAmerica.com, 1,000 of those acres exist today because of urbanization. Homes and businesses now cover much of the former vineyards. It was declared an appellation (AVA) in 1995.
We visited one of the remaining wineries in Rancho Cucamonga to explore this AVA’s flavor, to see what it had to offer. We found some nice wines, especially their Ports (ok, ok….. their ‘Port Like’ wines, because Ports only come from Portugal!)
They offered us a menu of 30 wines!
Everything from Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, sparkling wine, rosé, a white Mourvedre, Alicante Rosato, Muscat, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Merlot and Petite Sirah. Whew!
Their tastings are $5 for five wines, some interesting points:
-A very nice price point and a great opportunity to explore some interesting wines.
-They take their money in advance.
-There is no refund or discount of your tasting fee if you choose to purchase.
-They also sell wine by the glass
There was so much to choose from, but of course we started with the Reds and put down $10 for 10 tastes for the two of us. Here is what we tasted.
- 2008 Sangiovese Cucamonga Valley Hippard Vineyard 13.4% Alcohol $14.95/$5 -✰
- 2009 Zinfandel Cucamonga Valley W. Valley Vineyard 16.5% Alcohol $12.95/$4-✰
- 2008 Mourvedre Cucamonga Valley Hippard Vineyard 13.8% Alcohol $14.95/$5 ✰+
- 2008 Five Estates Cucamonga Valley Blend 15.2% Alcohol $19.95/$7 ✰
(Blended with Petite Sirah, Syrah, Mourvedre, Zinfandel & Greneche Noir)
- 2008 Petite Sirah Cucamonga Valley Hippard Vineyard 15% Alcohol $26.95/$9 ✰+
- 2008 Nocturnal Zinfandel Cucamonga Valley Clark Vineyard $27.95/$9 ✰
- Crème De La Crème Cucamonga Valley Sherry Style $19.95/$5 ✰
- Zinfandel Celestiale Cucamonga Valley Port Style $16.95/$5 -✰
- Ruby Ruby, Cucamonga Valley Port Style 19.4% Alcohol $14/$4 ✰
(Zin, blended with Alicante, Grenache, Sultanina)
- Alicante Bouschet Cucamonga Valley Port Style 18.7% Alcohol $18.95/$5 ✰
(Aged in used whiskey barrels)
- Fondante Ciello Port Style 18.3% Alcohol $18.95/$5 ✰++
(The same blend as Ruby Ruby (Grenache & Sultaninia added) without Zin)
- 2008 Petit Sarah Temecula Port Style 18.5% Alcohol $21.95/$5 ✰
As we expected, we tasted wines from a very hot environment, Zinfandel wine played a prominent role in many of their blends. With 100° summertime temperatures we expected wines with concentrations of fruit that were jammy and earthy and that’s exactly what we sampled. There were some wines we classified as green (you can see our ratings above.) But there also many wines that were very drinkable, and very good.
Their port style wines stood out, and we purchased the Fondante Ciello Port Style, and their 2008 Petite Sirah. It stood out like a bouquet of flowers at a wedding. Seriously, the nose was as powerful as a large bouquet of flower with a taste to match.
This wine might be too powerful for many people, but we did purchase it because we are looking for interesting wines, not just the greatest wines in the world. We’ll see how it holds up when we open it up for a meal. It is not a sipping wine.
The winery is located at 12467 Base Line Road, Rancho Cucamonga. You may visit their web site at josephfilippiwinery.com
You may also purchase some of their wine at Total Wine. We could not find any listed with BevMo. Here’s what their website shows. Normally Total Wine sells at a discount. Some of the wines I quote here are actually more expensive than the winery. How often does that happen?
Mourvedre Rancho Cucamonga $14.99
Syrah Rancho Cucamonga $14.99
Almond Sparkling Wine (Champagne) $10.99
Fondante Ciello Port, $11.99
Big Joe Red Blend $39.99
Zinfandel Port Celestial $17.99