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Smoky times for old winery
Citys oldest brick building transformation under way
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A silhouetted Tim Valentine of Valentine Construction surveys his commercial property on Oak Street which includes the old Baccilieri Winery, Manteca’s oldest brick building. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
The old Baccilieri Winery is No. 14 on the list of historical buildings in Manteca.

But it’s actually No. 1 when it comes to historic stature in the Family City.

“It’s the oldest brick building still standing in Manteca,” Ken Hafer of the Manteca Historical Society said of the Oak Street structure that was built in 1909 using building blocks that came from the old Carnegie factory near Tracy whose product was known all over the West Coast during its heyday.

For decades, the erstwhile Baccilieri Winery was one of five buildings owned by the seed-testing company, CelPril on Oak Street between South Main and Vine streets and right next to San Joaquin Lumber on West Yosemite Avenue. Today, the new owner of the 2.17-acre commercial compound now called Valentine Construction plans to recapture Baccilieri’s historic glory complete with a replica of the old water tower.

“We’re going to, in time, create a brick smoker in that building,” along with a bar for beer and wine, said Tim Valentine, the owner of the construction company. He officially took over the five-building compound that straddles the west portion of Oak Street in March.

He has already taken the initial steps of obtaining the proper permits from the city preliminary to establishing a Texas Barbecue House in the old Baccilieri Winery.

“I want to make the Manteca Winery a building for events, a hall that’s available to anybody,” said Valentine who qualified that the food business he has in mind is “not a traditional restaurant” but one where smoked beef, pork and fish will be offered to the public.

“It’s just part and parcel of what we’re doing with the buildings,” he said of the dining plans he has for Manteca’s Historical Building No. 14 which he felt was very symbolic from a personal point of view.

“It was always meant for me,” he said half-jokingly, recalling the first time he learned of the building’s number on the historical-sites list. “After all, the building has my number on it – Valentine’s Day comes on the 14th of February every year.”

What he would really like to do with the 6,044-square-foot Baccilieri building is to also restore the original brick walls that are currently hidden by coats of gray paint. That labor-intensive process, however, would take tens of thousands of dollars which he is not ready to do at this time. But what Valentine plans to do in the meantime is paint over the outside walls of the building to make them look like bricks. The original bricks are still visible inside but they, too, need to be restored.

Even before he closed escrow, Valentine already did his research on the Baccilieri Winery and the water tower at the Manteca Historical Museum and by talking to Hafer and museum director Evelyn Prouty as well as other people in the community.

A. Baccilieri established

Manteca’s 1st water works

Shortly after 1900 and nearly two decades before Manteca was incorporated as a city in 1918, Achille Baccilieri established the first water system in Manteca. According to the history book by Evelyn Prouty, “Manteca: Selected Chapters from Its History,” Baccilieri installed in 1914 “a $50,000-gallon water tank but often there was not enough water to give residents a continuous flow.”

He offered to sell the water system to the Manteca Board of Trade in 1913 for $8,000 but the offer was rejected for two reasons. First, the board said the community would need to incorporate, an idea that was deemed impractical since there were only 200 souls residing here at the time. Then there was the issue over the price which the board thought was just too high.

Finally, in 1928 the Manteca city council voted on May 28 to purchase the water works plus inventory from Baccilieri for $46,000. By then, the town’s population had swelled to 1,750 which prompted the Manteca Bulletin editorial statement: “the time to purchase the water works has come.”

That was not the only historical tidbit about the Baccilieri Winery. Several years after Baccilieri built the winery building, he and three other enterprising men – T. A. Nelson, F. M. Cowell, and Louis Vistica – established the first major industry in the area called the Manteca Canning Company in 1914. Prouty wrote in her book that the men realized a local cannery was needed “to process the fruit and vegetables the farmers were producing on the newly irrigated soil.”

Baccilieri’s winery building was used as storage for the cannery, with an additional 50x90-foot canning room added west of the winery.

A picture taken about 1919 showing the Manteca Canning Company and the Baccilieri Winery building near the Oak and Vine streets intersection is contained in Prouty’s history book of Manteca in Chapter 7, which tells the story of the local canneries. The book also has a photograph of the A. Baccilieri Manteca Winery with the railroad tracks in the foreground along with two horse-drawn carriages.

Copies of the Manteca history book are available for purchase in the gift shop of the Manteca Historical Museum at 600 W. Yosemite Avenue.