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Break out a bottle of Gnarly Head & toast Manteca, America, & power of immigrants
Gaspare and Maria Indelicato

Start 2024 with a toast.

A toast to the transformative power immigrants had, have — and if we are lucky enough — always will have on the fortunes of the United States of America.

There is no better place to start with the salutations than in our own back — and front — yard.

A young immigrant from Sicily in Italy ended up in Manteca in 1924.

He was seeking a better life for his family.

And he was willing to work hard transforming land he had secured to farm

He started a winery in his barn.

Today, just feet away from where that barn once stood is a massive tank farm that is part of the world’s fifth largest winery.

Delicato Family Wines sells more than 16 million cases of wine worldwide.

Not bad for a young immigrant who started selling wine grape juice to his neighbors that could legally make wine for their personal consumption during the depth of Prohibition.

Gaspare Indelicato was the immigrant.

His three sons — Vince, Anthony, and Frank — built on their father’s hard work.

The third generation — led by Chris and Jay — are providing leadership to keep Gaspare’s legacy growing.

A fourth generation is working by their side, preparing for the day when they will sit at the head of the proverbial table.

And along the way more their success has uplifted countless others, and we’re not just taking wine connoisseurs.

There are now more than 500 people employed by the winery, which started with the planting of a vine cutting a century ago when 2024 rolls around.

Those 500 people support households and other families through the spending of their paychecks.

It’s all interconnected because prosperity does indeed have the strong tendency to begat prosperity.

This is not just some feel-good messaging for a winery.

It is the foundation and transitional story of America.

Not one of us can truly say we are not here as the result of someone in our past immigrating to these shores.

With all due respect to indigenous Americans, if the science of archeologists and geneticists have merit, their ancestors also migrated to what today we call the Americas.

That said, without a doubt they were here first.

Perhaps there are people who haven’t wandered too far from the land their original ancestors walked.

But given how regions we designate as the cradle of civilization have a clockwork tendency every 20 years or so of trying to eradicate their age-old neighbors from the face of the earth, it certainly doesn’t give them a footing above the cesspool of behavior that humanity’s worse tendencies can create.

Enough of the world.

Let’s focus on our own backyard.

We are all immigrants, even if we are a generation or perhaps 15 or so removed from ancestors that first stepped onto soil that is within the boundaries of what we today reference as the United States of America.

The Yokut and Miwok — and counterpart indigenous Americans across the land — go back hundreds upon hundreds of generations.

None of this is meant to dismiss concerns that exist today in the United States over the impact of current immigration trends.

And anyone who doesn’t believe we have real issues that need to be addressed are in denial.

It is true we have always had illegal immigration.

And it is also true, just like with legal immigration, this nation had — and has — serious problems stem from the proverbial huddled masses arriving on these shores, walking across the border, or even landing as ticketed passengers at airports.

But the good has far outweighed the bad, real and perceived.

There has not been one president who wasn’t the descendant of an immigrant even if you exclude those we identify as indigenous Americans from the pool.

The same can almost be said 100 percent of those who are innovators, teach, are CEOs, fill the ranks of the military, serve as doctors and nurses, police our streets — you get the picture.

And many of those professions also have first generation immigrants or those caught in the twilight zone status  being brought to this country illegally as minors and then raised and educated as Americans that the DREAMers Act was proposed to address.

Who knows, maybe an immigrant who arrived here as a 19 year-old from Mexico, couldn’t speak a word of English, and supported himself and his family working on the fields saved the life of someone you know.

We’re talking about Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, considered one of the nation’s leading neurosurgeons.

He spent his early adulthood in San Joaquin County. He worked in the fields and cleaned industrial chemical tanks while learning English.

And then —here’s a plug for the transformative power of a community college in the hands of someone with the focused will to use it —  attended Delta College.

That opened the door to the University of California at Berkeley and then the Harvard School of Medicine.

Granted, Quinones-Hinojosa in the here and now and Gaspare Indelicato as the family trailblazer are high profile examples.

But they are examples of what immigration provides this nation at all levels of society day in and day out.

Most of us, of course, are oblivious to the fact we are an immigrant powered nation when we’re going about our day-to-day business or manning the opposing ramparts in the debate over the viability of our government’s current course in managing the flow of immigrants.

It is almost fitting that arguably the most pivotal moment in 2023 that will impact Manteca for years to come were in negotiations led on one-side by an immigrant and on the other by a third generation American — Manteca Mayor Gary Singh and Delicato Family Wines CEO Chris Indelicato.

Some 40 years ago, Singh was a 3-year-old when he left his grandfather’s farm in India with his mom where they lived in a mud hut to join his father in California. Indelicato was a third generation American attending East Union High.

Between them earlier this year, they brokered a deal accepted unanimously by the City Council and the winery board designed to avoid a potentially divisive referendum by changing the course of development in north Manteca to assure the viability of the winery started by an immigrant from Italy.

Use bubbly, if you must, to usher in the new year.

But at some point before 2024 gets too old, break out a bottle of Gnarly Head.

And toast to Manteca and the fact it is what it is today — just like the rest of America — because of immigrants.

 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at