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Delicato buys Napa Valley estate-style winery
The Black Stallion Winery in Napa Valley. - photo by Photo Contributed
Delicato Family Vineyards is now arguably among the most versatile wineries in California with its acquisition of the Black Stallion Winery in the fabled Napa Valley.

The Manteca-based firm owned by the Indelicato family now has holdings in Monterey County, Napa Valley, Lodi, and Manteca.

“The Black Stallion acquisition fulfills my family’s dream of owning an estate in the Napa Valley,” said Delicato Family Vineyards Chief Executive Officer Chris Indelicato. “My grandfather planted our first vineyards in the 1920s and we began to make wine in the ‘30s. My father and uncles continued to lead the company forward by purchasing vineyards in Lodi and Monterey. The third generation has had an eye on the Napa Valley for some time and my brother Jay and I, along with cousins Cheryl, Mike, Frank Jr. and Marie, are proud to honor the family’s legacy of producing wines from California’s most prestigious growing regions. We look forward to offering estate-bottled Napa Valley wines with the quality that Delicato Family Vineyards is known for.”

Black Stallion Winery is located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, three miles north of the town of Napa along the famed Silverado Trail.  The winery takes its name from an equestrian facility, the Silverado Horseman’s Center, which was located on the grounds many years ago. The original property featured riding trails, stables and an outdoor arena where Francis Ford Coppola filmed the helicopter scene from “Apocalypse Now”. Today the Black Stallion Winery includes estate vineyards, an elegant tasting room and hospitality center as well as two guest cottages.

From two brands in 2000 to 16 today
Delicato wines – even before the family aggressively repositioned itself by offering a wide array of brands and set up their international marketing office in the heart of the Napa Valley – was a smash hit in parts of Europe. Delicato Wines controls 80 percent of the California wine market in Sweden and has beat locally grown wine in competitions in the storied wine regions of France and Italy.

The family’s focus has gone from two brands in 2000 to 16 brands today. Although they have premium wines, they are focused on the $5 to $15 market zeroing the bulk of their attention around the $15 per bottle price point.

“We aim at making a quality wine at a good price,” Indelicato said in a 2008 interview. “There is a difference between a $100 bottle of Napa wine and a $10 bottle of Lodi wine but the taste isn’t that noticeable to most and it certainly isn’t 10 times better to pay $100 for it.”

The DFV Wines philosophy is to produce a “great wine for what you pay.”
That is what has caught the attention of critics as well as rank-and-file wine connoisseurs.

Indelicato’s grandfather planted his first vines in 1924. The first vintage was in 1935 and generated 3,500 barrels. This fall will mark the Indelicato family’s 74th harvest.

That initial vineyard - which still produces – planted the seed for one of California’s largest vineyard empires.
It now includes the fabled San Bernabe Vineyards. It’s 11,000 acres that stretch for nine miles in Monterey. It is the world’s most diverse and largest single-owned vineyard.

There are 110 distinct vineyard blocks farmed individually featuring 20 different grape varietals that flourish in a series of micro climates that start with near sea-level, often fog-enshrouded vineyards and work their way up hills to elevations gaining just under 2,000 feet.

Among the Monterey vineyards comes Pinor Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay.

The other major family vineyard is Clay Station Vineyards, some 1,250 acres on the valley’s edge and in the Sierra foothills east of Lodi. The rich, red clay with stone “cobbles” is considered ideal for drainage critical to sweetening the fruit. There are six varietals in the classic Mediterranean climate featuring sunny dry summers and cooling nighttime breezes from the Delta.

From the Lodi region comes Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Chardonnay.

DFV Wines also focuses on securing Napa’s varietals as well as accessing grapes from their “ultra-premium regions” - Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County.

The Manteca winery established in 1935 has a crushing capacity of 140,000 tons, storage capacity of 42 million gallons, and a warehouse capacity for 600,000 cases. The winery bottles 3 million cases annually.

Delicato Vineyards employs 750 workers
Some 230 of DFV Wines’ 350 year-round employees work in Manteca. They also have another 350 seasonal employees.

The Delicato Monterey Winery was established in 1988 and has a crushing capacity of 30,000 tons. The warehouse capacity is 11,000 barrels while the barrel room capacity is 1.5 million gallons.

DFW Wines has one of the top “winery to winery” services in the United States. They serve the top 30 largest premium wine companies. Their services include exclusive brand development, new product development, buyers own label custom blends, and overseas packaging services.
That portion of the business – credited with establishing Delicato Vineyards as a “winemaker’s winemaker” was the handiwork of Gaspare’s three sons - Vincent, Frank and Anthony.

The third generation – Chris, Jay, Cheryl, Frank Jr., Claude, Mike and Marie – get credit for developing the branded wine business, and establishing a global market for DFV Wines.