by Fred McMillin
for January 6, 1999


A Neat Petite

1908—The U.S.A. pays a lot of attention to the introduction of the first electric toaster ($1.45 by G.E.) and the first Model T Ford ($85O.5O). But it pays little attention to a new miner in New Mexico, just arrived from a winemaking-family in Piedmont, Italy. His name is Emilio Guglielmo (the second "g" is silent).

1925—With his wife Emilia, Emilio has moved to San Francisco, saves his money while working in a tannery, and purchases land in the nearby Santa Clara Valley. Among the vines he plants is the Petite Sirah. with prohibition in effect, the couple haul their grapes to San Francisco for crushing and production of legal, sacramental wines.

1938—Delivering his wine directly to San Francisco homes for $1.50 a gallon (son George soon took over the route), the former miner was now gaining some attention with his "Cavalcade Burgundy," one of the best wine buys in town.

1955—Son George's reds are drawing critical acclaim. During the following years they become the favorite house wine of many San Francisco restaurants.

Guglielmo Winery 1990—The three G's (grandsons Gary, Gene, and George Jr.) are now running the show. Production has grown to 100,000 cases, some of which are going to Canada, Japan and even Europe. One of its winners is made from Emilio's 1925 Petite Sirah vines. Prof. John Baxevanis praised the 1991... "inky in color, complex nose, superb legs, full-bodied, will improve over next four years, an excellent value." The 1995 is today's wine.

The Wine

1995 Private Reserve Petite Sirah, Santa Clara Vly.
Guglielmo Winery
Composition—100% Petite
Production—Hurry. Only 565 cases.
Aging potential—10 years.
Food Affinities—A robust wine for robust fare... well-seasoned pasta, beef, game, etc.
Phone—(408) 779-2145
Price—$13 range


Petite Sirah in California originally was made in a very heavy style for adding backbone to lighter blends. In fact, just 30 years ago an outstanding author who shall remain unnamed wrote that bottling it alone as a varietal wine was a "lunatic fringe idea." My panel must be part of the fringe, because they gave the Guglielmo a rousing HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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