The Indelicato family has been crafting wines in California for almost 100 years. Left to right are Jay Indelicato, chief operating officer; Mike Indelicato, customer service lead; Cheryl Indelicato, family/brand ambassador; Stephen Mathews, fourth generation winemaker; Marie Mathews, director of hospitality and retail sales; and Chris Indelicato, chief executive officer.
MANTECA, Calif. — Ninety-eight years ago, an 18-year-old immigrant from Sicily was looking for land in California that resembled his homeland to grow grapes. He found it in San Joaquin County.
“In 1924, Gaspare Indelicato and his wife, Catherine, purchased a 688-acre dairy ranch and planted small plots of Carignane, Mission, and Zinfandel vines for making their Delicato wine,” said Indelicato family spokesman Brent Dodd.
Today six family members are involved in the wine business. The winery harvests grapes from more than 6,000 acres of estate vineyards in the Napa, Lodi, Monterey and Sonoma regions to craft wines that express the diversity of these appellations.
Delicato’s winemaking team in partnership with its growers manage many varietals including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Sauvignon blanc and Pinot noir.
A lot of the wines are only offered through the winery’s tasting rooms or its wine clubs.
In the last couple of years, Delicato has taken steps to prevent drought damage.
This ranges from installing flow meters on wells and pumps to adding a system that allows Delicato to reclaim 2 million gallons of water a year for landscape and vineyard irrigation.
Because these efforts have worked so well, the winery hasn’t been drastically impacted by the drought.
More changes have also happened in the tasting room, Dodd said.
“We are finding that consumers are more wine savvy now than five years ago, and there is a desire to understand wine in greater depths,” he said. “We see this show up in tastings that are paired with food and experiences that bridge the gap between climate and terroir and how it translates to the glass.
“As a result, we are seeing that consumers are willing to trade up and spend more per bottle than wine drinkers five years ago.”
Consumers of Delicato wines have a variety of brands and wines from which to choose.
Gnarly Head is a value-driven wine label that produces a range of wines from California fruit. The brand was created in 2004 and is best known for its production of Lodi Zinfandel from 35- to 80-year-old head-trained vines.
Delicato Family Wines introduced the Bota Box in 2003, taking inspiration from traditional Spanish wine skins known as “botas,” which were used to carry wine for centuries.
Being one of the fastest-growing wineries in the U.S. with a nearly 100-year pedigree doesn’t come without its challenges. The biggest tests are the cost of energy and natural disasters, Dodd said.
“Water restrictions are becoming tighter and tighter and ... drought-like conditions throughout the Central Valley and North Coast make the probability of wildfires extremely high. For perspective, since 2015 we’ve had only one year when we didn’t have to worry about smoke taint,” he said.
“We just hope to keep producing quality wine for another 100-plus years.”
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