Whoever said that you had to go to Napa to get the true wine experience?
Tucked off along Highway 99 just north of town, the Delicato Vineyards Visitors Center stands poised to welcome wine enthusiasts and novices alike — a quaint and inviting complex that has been a local family-owned staple for more than a half-century.
And even though the economy is supposed to be keeping people at home, the decline in visitors hasn’t been seen at all during their peak summer tourism season.
When Gaspare Indelicato first came to America from Italy and settled in the rich and fertile land of the San Joaquin Delta, he and his brother-in-law would eventually purchase an old dairy farm that they would use to plant grapes that would eventually become a huge hit for home winemakers on the East coast.
But when prohibition ended, the market for selling grapes off the vine diminished greatly, and the only way to turn a profit from their efforts would be making their own red wine — originally selling 3,451 gallons that they would sell locally.
Little did they know that they had planted the seed for what would become a highly respected winery with both national and international distribution as well as growing estates in several top California regions.
In the last fifty years, Delicato has produced eight different brands ranging from their standard homegrown selections to the wildly popular Gnarly Head — which includes varieties crafted from grapes grown in Napa, Sonoma, Lodi, and Monterey County.
And inside of the beautiful and rustic tasting room on the Highway 99 Frontage Road, an entire world of wine-themed gifts, trinkets, and of course fermented bottles await all who enter.
For those who don’t necessarily have a taste for wine, the tasting room and visitors center also offers a wide array of ornate gifts — some made locally — that range from handcrafted glass items to decorative pieces perfect for a table centerpiece for a garden addition.
Just beyond the wraparound tasting counter, a beautifully decorated Tuscan Villa-themed outdoor porch allows for a quiet and peaceful tasting session away from the hot summer valley sun — an area adorned with decorative waterfalls and plenty of room for a busy afternoon or a lavish party.
Keeping with tradition, the winery still offers a period every year where amateur winemakers can show up with their barrels and purchase different varieties of fresh grape juice straight from the barrels.
And being Manteca’s local community winery also means that there’s no shortage of community support.
Every month there are at least several fundraisers hosted by a variety of groups that help raise money for community events ranging from local sports boosters to assisting the families of residents that have passed away unexpectedly.
The Delicato Vineyards Tasting Room and Visitors Center is located at 12001 S. Highway in Manteca. To get there from downtown, take Highway 99 North and exit at French Camp Road and turn right onto French Camp Road. Take the first left, and after crossing the railroad tracks, turn left again. The complex is on the left-hand side of the road. For more information visit them on the web at www.delicato.com, or call 888-599-4637.