Rancho De Philo Winery, Rancho Cucamonga, Ca


Recently, I wrote about our very own Rancho de Philo winery on In my Kitchen, November. I briefly mentioned that the sherry produced there is sold only one weekend a year in November with only 4,000 bottles produced in a year. After our yearly sojourn down the road about two blocks, I was so impressed after talking to vintner Alan Tibbetts (husband of Janine Biane Tibbetts), that I decided to dedicate an entire post, pre Thanksgiving series.

Rancho de Philo began when the current property was purchased in 1962 by local winemaker, Philo Biane, who was retiring as President of Brookside Vineyard Company, one of the oldest wineries in California. Biane was the fifth generation of French winemakers, originating in San Juan Baptista, California. After a winemaker’s tour in Spain detailing the in’s and out’s of storing Spanish-style cream sherry, he decided it would be a good retirement project.

The vineyards were already established by the Russian immigrants who sold the land to Biane and who also owned much of the land here in Alta Loma at the time. Until those vineyards were destroyed in the 90’s by a Sharpshooter (a pest that carries Pierces Disease, a major threat to vineyards), the original vineyard produced the wine used to make the sherry. Although some of the vineyards have been replaced with newer vines, the process of blending and aging the wine made from the Mission grape vineyards on the property, hasn’t changed since Biane began its process in 1964 at Guasti.

The soleras, a pyramid construction of barrels, is used to age the blend of wine on average, for twenty five years. Every year, a portion is siphoned from the top barrel down to the next, ending with the bottom barrel which is then used to produce cream sherry, a dessert wine. Rancho de Philo’s Triple Cream Sherry is the only sherry produced in California which uses this aging process, thereby giving it a smoother, more complex taste than younger sherry.

Rancho de Philo is now run by Janine Biane Tibbetts, daughter of Philo Biane and her husband Alan. Janine is now the sixth generation of French vintners, even though she was told that the winemaking industry was no place for a woman back in the day. After twelve years in the family business, Philo finally decided his daughter was serious enough to continue the wine-making legacy. Janine has earned the respect of not only her knowledgable palate in dessert wines, but the highly prestigious awards bestowed year after year to Rancho de Philo’s Triple Cream Sherry. Her husband proudly gloats about her accomplishments, despite the hard work it takes for both of them to care for their vineyards and run all aspects of selling their sherry every year.

Although my German heritage predetermined that I would be a beer person over a wine connossiur, I can appreciate the incredibly intricate process and devotion it takes to end up with a finished product worthy of such awards as Micro Winery of the Year, 2012 Best Wine of Show, U.S. National Wine Competition, 2011 Best Wine of the Year, San Diego International Wine Competition 2010, to name only a few. More importantly, like anything worthwhile, Rancho de Philo is the culmination of the perfect blend of talent, experience, and relentless dedication.



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Categories: Traditions


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