Angelo Sciaccaluga was born near Genoa, Italy, in 1840, emigrating to the United States in 1861 or 1862, as a ship stowaway. He first stayed in a settlement with other Italian immigrants, then came to California and worked as a miner. He was naturalized in 1871, and by 1872, purchased land from George Major (Major had acquired the Mull Ranch, east of Coyote Creek, in 1865, and another 320-acre parcel on the Vallecito-Murphys Road. By the mid-1870s he had sold all of his lands in the area and moved away). The General Land Office township plat for that year depicts “Pishons House” and “orchard.” The family were known locally as Pyshon, their village of origin, due to the difficulty in the pronunciation and spelling of their name.
Angelo Sciaccaluga and Nicoletta Vassalo, a native of Genoa, were married sometime in the late 1870s, after Nicoletta emigrated from Genoa in 1877. The family home and winery were located west of Highway 4, where it turns north from Vallecito. In 1877 the family was assessed for a total of 18 acres valued at $60, with improvements of $60, including a house and fence, and personal property including furniture, poultry, a gun, and a dog, valued at $54.
Sciaccaluga’s first taxation for wine was noted in 1880, listed as part of his personal property. The 1880 agricultural census shows him to have a one-quarter-acre vineyard and 150 gallons of wine. By 1889 Sciaccaluga had acquired a total of 38 acres, with a real estate value of $380. The improvements on the land totaled $170, plus a distillery valued at $150. His personal property included $40 in wine and $75 in brandy. In 1893 the family had 20 acres, with a house, barn, fence, wine, and brandy. By 1916 the real estate, distillery, and personal property values had dropped. Angelo Sciaccaluga died the following year, having transferred all of his holdings into his wife’s name in 1898.
In the early 1970s, daughter Lottie Pyshon Stephens described her memory of the winery as having two cellars, one for crushing the grapes and one for wine storage. She noted that her father made table wine and sweet wine. Her son, Raymond Stephens, recalled visiting his grandparents when a small boy, in about 1912. He remembered the winery building but not the wine making. He did, however, recall a large vegetable garden and table grapes. The distillery was torn down after the place was sold in 1921, but the cellar is extant and visible from Highway 4. Apparently the house, garden, orchard, and vineyard were located near the cellar, and were separated from the other property to the south when the present State Route 4 was realigned in the 1950s (the original Murphys-Vallecito Road coursed south down Main Street in Vallecito, where it turned northwest on Angels Road to continue to Angels Camp).
By Judith Marvin
- General Land Office, 1874 Township No. 3 North, Range No. 14 East, Plat Map.
- Peak, Melinda A. 1990 The Sciaccaluga Winery, CA-CAL-1079H, Calaveras County, California. Prepared by Peak & Associates, Sacramento, California. Prepared for Northern California Power Agency, Murphys, California.
- Richards, Wanda, Compiler and Editor. 1973 Vallecito History, a History of Vallecito, California Since 1848. Interviews and Research. Fourth Grade Class, Vallecito School, Calaveras County, California.
- United States Geological Survey. 1948 Columbia, Calif. Quadrangle. 7.5 Minute Series. Photorevised 1973.