During Escondido's State of the City Address on February 28th Forgotten Barrel and owner Rodger Grove were recognized for his contribution to historic preservation of the former Ferrara Winery.
The Ferrara family began making wine prior to Prohibition, and is recognized as the oldest grape-growing, wine-making family in San Diego County. After the repeal of Prohibition, the Ferrara Winery, located in a residential neighborhood at 1120 W. 15th Ave., re-opened and established itself for the next several decades as a prominent winery specializing in the Muscat varietal that grew especially well on the property. The State of California designated Ferrara Winery, as a state historical point of interest in 1971.
Unfortunately, business and production at the Ferrara Winery declined around the early 2000s, and the winery closed permanently in 2008. Parts of the property were sold off, and the winery fell into disrepair. The property sat vacant for many years, and it was expected that an investor would eventually purchase it to develop into a housing subdivision.
In March of 2016, Rodger Grove, the owner of a winery called Forgotten Barrel with locations in both San Diego, and Napa Valley, purchased the Ferrara Winery property with the purpose of bringing the historic winery back into operation as the new home of Forgotten Barrel Winery.
Mr. Grove has been working on substantial restoration of the property over the past two years and has passionately focused on preserving its historic nature. Forgotten Barrel Winery officially opened in June of 2017, welcoming visitors back into the original Ferrara Winery tasting room that had been dark for many years. All around the property, which includes vintage farm equipment, barns and a chicken coop, visitors, can enjoy artifacts preserved from Ferrara Winery. Chandeliers, old doors, signs and barrels have been repurposed to create an authentic experience. The winery is now a beautiful location to host weddings and other special events.
Forgotten Barrel Winery has become a popular destination in the heart of Escondido. They produced their first wine made on the property in the fall of 2017, and the label proudly touts the historic Escondido property as its home.
Forgotten Barrel Winery intends to continue the Ferrara Winery legacy of making delicious tawny port using a winemaking process called Solera which means each year new wine is blended into prior years wine year over year. To further the historic preservation of the Ferrara legacy, Forgotten Barrel has also brought the original “Muscat of Alexandria” vines on the property back to life. This is the only varietal grown within the City of Escondido, and they will be bottling it this year.
In addition to its winery, Forgotten Barrel is also heavily active in volunteer efforts. They are strong supporters of the Escondido History Center, and have participated in the 2017 Grape Day Festival, the City sponsored Wine Tasting at Cruisin Grand, and dozens of community events.
Forgotten Barrel has quickly established itself as not just a winery, but an important part of Escondido history. Without the Forgotten Barrel’s efforts, the Ferrara Winery property would most likely not have survived, and would have eventually been all but “forgotten”.
Forgotten Barrel now occupies the former Ferrara Winery, which was designated a California historic point of interest in the late 1970’s and a historic site by the city of Escondido in 1989. The winery, was established in 1886 as one of San Diego county and Southern California’s first vineyards. The winery was purchased in 1928 by George Ferrara, banking on the repeal of prohibition by President Roosevelt.
The winery reopened in 1932-33 with the passage of the 21st amendment. During the next 75 years, Ferrara Winery grew to prominence in the California wine industry. It was operated by 3 generations until 2010. Forgotten Barrel restored the historic property and opened the tasting room in 2017 and will continue to tell the story of the Ferrara family and the history of this amazing California landmark.
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