Hardly a Sunday goes by that someone doesn’t pull over when they see Saugus resident Danny Mascari, 62, working in his vineyard.
“Every Sunday I’m out here, somebody pulls in” to ask about growing grapes, he said.
Mascari started his vineyard in Bouquet Canyon in 1994 when he and his wife, Nina, purchased the property. He opened his car stereo business, Soundsations, in Newhall in 1987 and wanted to move his family to Santa Clarita to be closer.
Mascari said it was the first vineyard in the Santa Clarita Valley, though since 1994, several others have been planted.
Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, Mascari’s family always had wine around. His family is Italian, after all.
But it was his father-in-law who got him started making wine.
Now, more than 30 years later, Mascari has about 1,000 vines planted over an acre and a half, calling his production Bouquet Vineyards.
Currently, he has two types of grapes planted: cabernet sauvignon and Sangiovese, which grew from a cutting carried in a suitcase all the way to Saugus from Italy. Everything, he said, started from cuttings planted on little sticks.
His vines have matured now, and he’s producing around 14 barrels of wine – equivalent to 25 cases – per year, give or take. His family goes through about three or four barrels a year.
“Wine’s on the table every night,” he said.
Mascari uses an antique press made in 1905 to crush his grapes in his garage. He got the press from a Greek family in Chicago the same year he planted his first vines; they promised him the press as long as he could get it to California and pledged to use it to continue making wine.
The family who gave him the press said it would “break (their) heart if someone made it into a planter,” Mascari said.
He ages or gives away his other inventory or offers it at the two tastings he participates in a year: the Assistance League’s Sunset in the Vineyard in the fall and the Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival in the spring.
Mascari has tried several different varietals along the way, including merlot and tempranillo.
“You want to experience different wines,” he said. He still cherishes his 2011 merlot, the first merlot he ever made, because everything about it was “just perfect,” he said. Mascari said what he has left of those bottles only come out for special occasions.
Mascari is considering selling some of his wine in the future.
“It may be something I want to do when I grow up,” he said.