Over the holidays, there are all kinds of gatherings that bring local people together.
However, the one that happened at the historic Delta Farms ranch near Los Banos was truly special.
Owners Aldo and Virginia Sansoni invited old Merced school buddies, longtime friends and noted guests to enjoy a day at their famed ranch that is steeped in significant local, state and even national history.
The origins of the ranch can be traced back to the early days of California’s most elaborate, and massive, ranch-farm enterprise owned by Henry Miller and Charles Lux of the late 1800s and turn-of-the-century era. The Delta was part of an agricultural “kingdom” that covered 750,000 acres in 19 different counties in California, and some 250,000 acres in Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.
The Delta was eventually purchased by Italian immigrant Pasquale Bisignani, a relative of the Sansoni family in 1926, and longtime worker for Miller-Lux.
In modern times, the Sansonis have gone to great lengths to preserve the history of the Delta Ranch, and also incorporate their own family history into structures and adornments.
Buildings and barns of the Miller and Lux era are still intact on the property. Other materials and artifacts have been repurposed to create wonderful new attractions. They renovated a stud barn to create the Delta Party Barn that can be rented out for special events. The only Miller-Lux “Double-H” brand known to exist is presently in the Delta Party Barn, along with many early California rancho branding irons.
Another stable barn was transformed into a chapel that today is used for weddings and special services.
Aldo Sansoni told his guests he wanted to share his pride and joy with them, and also thank them for being friends through the good times and difficult periods. He revealed his family almost lost it all in the 1980s when a national salmonella scare wiped out the melon market. Sansoni said they made it through this tough time and others through the support of the local community and longtime friends.
The day was complete when everybody enjoyed a first-class meal inside the Delta Party Barn, and a tour of the Delta Ranch facilities led by Aldo Sansoni.
Special guests included: E.J. ‘Almo’ Lorenzi, R.J. Lorenzi, Jim Rosa, Chuck Meyer, Ralph Busby, Mary Jo Reding Stavros, John and Nada Pazin, Jose Degadillo, Zibby (Hayes) Jones, Shirley Brandon, Kay Stahl, Nini Freitas, Lydia Lobdell, Sandra Fisher, Dennis Riskey, Janet Conover, Gail Flanagan, Frank Muratore, Jeanne Melcher, Ezio Sansoni, Marlene Beiswanger, Nettie Descalso, Jeff Negrete, Dominic Giampietro, Kathleen Crookham, and Fr. Thomas Thippabathini, among others.