Ed Dietl, of the Rancho Cucamonga Historic Preservation Association, at the historic Virginia Dare Winery on Haven Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
Ed Dietl, of the Rancho Cucamonga Historic Preservation Association, at the historic Virginia Dare Winery on Haven Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. (Photo by Neil Nisperos/Staff)

RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- Edward Dietl, the town's historic preservationist, was eager to enter the tiny doorway leading to the interior of the historic Virginia Dare Winery grape crushing room.

Dietl has been busy with efforts to preserve historical buildings and other city artifacts and had never been inside the grape press room before.

On a recent Thursday, Dietl obtained permission from the building's management to enter the room, which had once smelled sweet with grape juice when it first became operational 100 years ago.

Today the room hums with a buzz of electricity, serving as the electrical and storage room of the Rancho Cucamonga law firm of Chihigoyenetche Grossberg and Clouse. The rest of the firm is housed in an adjoining newer building that appears to have been built sometime in the 1980s.

The cement-pouring work of the exterior, from the 1910s, gives the building an uneven adobe-like texture, providing the look of a miniature Alamo.

The cramped interior is divided into two halves. The first half on the building's northern face is located behind the law firm's office kitchen. It houses electrical, air, and heating machinery.

Dietl was astonished to find the contents of the second half of the building.

Separated by a wooden wall that runs the length of the room, a wooden entrance leads into an interior wooden "set" painted pink. A timeline diorama of the history of the Virgina Dare Winery in Rancho Cucamonga runs the length of the wall.


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Stored at the far end of the walk-through historical display are signs and photograph placards that had once been placed on the diorama.

Among the signs and placards there were photographs of the winery when it first opened in the 1910s, its appearance in the 1960s when it served as a location for the television show "Combat," a model representation of redevelopment plans for the winery, and a sign that reads "prohibition ends."

"I was very excited to find that stuff," Dietl said.

Ed Dietl, of the Rancho Cucamonga Historic Preservation Association, finds historic photographs inside the century-old crushing room of the Virginia Dare
Ed Dietl, of the Rancho Cucamonga Historic Preservation Association, finds historic photographs inside the century-old crushing room of the Virginia Dare Winery. (Photo by Neil Nisperos/Staff)
"I was very excited to see the pictures and memorabilia."

Councilwoman Diane Williams had attended city hall meetings as an audience member in the mid-1980s when the winery was being redeveloped to become the business office complex it is today.

Williams said she remembers city leaders at the time having placed a requirement on the redevelopment for a display to present the history of the winery to the public.

"I think that was part of the stipulation, that if they were going to do redevelopment, they had to create this historic time capsule visual so people could know what was there," Williams said.

Dietl said the next step is for him to talk to the principles of the law firm to ask if the materials can be photographed, and to ask the firm if they could possibly allow the space to be used as a small museum.

neil.nisperos@inlandnewspapers.com, 909-483-9356

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