I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

I bet you didn’t know about this place…

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

I say this because it wasn’t until just recently that I learned about it myself. It’s another one of Southern California’s best kept secrets, and it’s called Rancho de Philo Vineyards & Winery.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

Located in Alta Loma, a small foothill community near Rancho Cucamonga, Rancho de Philo does one thing: make delicious, award winning, Triple Cream Sherry. 

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

Rancho de Philo was recently named the Top Micro-Winery in California, an impressive distinction. The boutique winery opens its doors to the public only once a year during the second week in November. They bottle only 350 cases of sweet cream sherry each year. And, it only takes a few days for the winery to completely sell out their annual production. Thus, there is a very small window when lucky visitors can purchase this Spanish style delicacy.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in CoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

On Sunday Brad and I made the 1 hour drive down the mountain and paid them a visit. We met 2nd generation owners, Janine & Alan Tibbetts, who shared with us a tasting of 3 vintages of their delicious sherry.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

We learned that the winery was founded in 1974 by Janine’s father, Philo Biane.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

Having retired as President of Brookside Vineyard Company, Philo was looking for something to do in his retirement. So, after an inspirational trip to Spain where he learned the art of Sherry making, Philo returned to California and started this venture. Now, 57 years later, Rancho de Philo holds the distinction of being one of California’s oldest wineries.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

Still made in the traditional Spanish style, Rancho de Philo Triple Cream Sherry is produced by utilizing 15 barrels of sherry, blending wines aged between 12 to 57 years old. Every bottle they sell is a blend of every vintage ever produced in the history of the winery! This is achieved by way of an aging process called “Solera”.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

In this process the wine from each vintage is fractionally blended in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of all the prior years. The average age gradually increases as the process continues over many years. This method ensures a certain homogeneity of product over different vintages, hopefully insuring a reliable style and quality of wine over time.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

It’s a very labor-intensive process where the wine is transferred from barrel to barrel, top to bottom, from a total of 15 barrels. During our visit we got to view a case containing dusty bottles of every single vintage produced over the course of the winery’s 57 year history.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

Rancho de Philo Sherry is made using Mission style grapes grown on the property. Mission grapes are Southern California’s original grape, brought in by the Spanish Missionaries. After the grapes are pressed the juice produced is allowed to ferment until it reaches 16% alcohol. Next, grape brandy is added to stop the fermentation and it is then transferred to insulated steel tanks where the temperature is set at 120° and the wine “bakes” for several months. It is checked regularly and when the wine starts to turn brown and gets hazy, that’s the beginning of the sherry creation.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

Finally, the Sherry is transferred into 50 gallon oak barrels where it is aged and blended. We came away with bottles of 3 vintages, each Double Gold Metal Winners. We’ll be sharing some of this delicious sweet sherry, a dessert wine, with our family at Thanksgiving.

I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW | Rancho de Philo | A wonderful Sherry Winery in SoCal | www.AfterOrange County.com

If you’d like to visit Rancho de Philo Vineyard & Winery you’ll have to act quickly. The annual Sherry Tasting and Sale takes place only until November 19th. They are open from 9am to 5pm daily or until they sell out.

Rancho de Philo

10050 Wilson Ave.

Alta Loma, CA 91737

So there you have it: I BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Thanks so much for dropping in! 

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All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission. 

Comments

  • Robert C

    Love reading about these secret places you uncover Celia. In fact, I visited Sycamore Ranch Vineyard in Crestline after your post and loved it…and now I am a new member of the wine club there. Rancho de Philo is on the list now. It is sad however that so many of the vineyards in the IE have been turned into subdivisions.

  • Hi Robert. WOW, I’m thrilled to hear you like Sycamore Ranch. We are members there too so please say hi if you attend the upcoming “pick up party.” I hear you when you say it’s sad to see all of the development scooping up the beautiful farm land. That was my very thought when I visited Rancho de Philo. Hope you like that place too!

  • What a fun discovery. Who knew is right! It’s great to read about all the great places hidden here in California. Thanks for discovering it for your readers.