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Durlynn Anema: Meet two Galt area women

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Posted: Sunday, August 6, 2017 10:30 am

Meet Janis Barsetti Gray and Ida Denier — women whose roots go deep into the history of the Galt area. As president and vice president of the Galt Area Historical Society, they are appropriate for the Society’s leadership.

Thursday through Sundays, Janis can be found at the Barsetti Vineyards tasting room on 4th Street in Oldtown Galt. She presides over wine tastings and loves to talk about Galt. Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30-9 p.m. she adds live music with summer evenings enjoyed outside on the patio.

Janis’ grandparents on her father’s side took a circuitous route to live in Herald. Her grandfather arrived in the U.S. from Switzerland in 1903 and eventually came to Marin County. Meanwhile, her grandmother, who he knew in the small Swiss village where they grew up, came to San Francisco in 1909. They reacquainted, married in 1911 and moved to Herald in 1912 to live. He leased a dairy farm along Liberty Road in San Joaquin County because his family were dairy farmers.

Janis’ dad, born in Herald in 1917, wanted to buy land for the family dairy. In 1941 he found the perfect piece on Cherokee Road near Liberty Road and bought 420 acres at $28 an acre.

Janis was born there in 1950. She and her two younger brothers attended Oak View Elementary School and Galt High School. She then went to Sacramento State College. She now lives on 120 acres and grows some of the grapes for Barsetti Wines. Her brothers each have an additional 120 acres apiece and ran the dairy until the early seventies.

After college, Janis worked for Hertz for 36 years. Her first position was at the Stockton Airport. Those were the days when Stockton had three airlines regularly landing — PSA, United and Hughes Air West. (How we wish that was still true!)

Later, she was transferred to the Sacramento International Airport.

Richard Gray was working for United Airlines at the same time at the Stockton Airport.

Janis knew him for years as a good friend but they didn’t start dating until he also was transferred to Sacramento.

Soon after they were married in 1980 Richard was transferred to Seattle. He originally was from Bellingham, Washington so knew the area well. Jan stayed behind at her Hertz job so theirs became a “commuter” marriage.

In 2001, they decided to go into the wine business. When Richard retired he became totally involved with wine making and learned about blending and tasting.

Janis retired in 2008 when she was offered a buy out “I couldn’t refuse.”

Together they gained more wine knowledge and in 2014 decided to open their tasting room in Galt. Richard died in 2015.

Janis has taken on the tasting room as a special project as well as to build up interest in Oldtown Galt.

She has added the live music, a boutique with items including local pottery, unique wine-related merchandise, and specialty vinegars and olive oil.

The latest addition is wine slushies — deeply appreciated on hot days. She also has artists appearing regularly to present floral and painting classes.

You’re always welcome at the Barsetti Vineyards Tasting Room on 4th Street in Oldtown Galt.


Ida’s roots also go back to grandparents. Her father’s parents were from Italy and her mother’s were Swiss/Italian.

She loves to tell the story of how her parents met. Seems her mother was trying to crank up her car in front of the Galt post office. Her father came along to help — and obviously found this young lady totally delightful.

The Denier farm is on Boessow Road east along Dry Creek.

Ida was born at Mason Hospital in Lodi and raised on the farm — a rural life thoroughly enjoyed by her. She went to Galt Elementary School and Galt High School. Then she attended Stockton College for two years before transferring to Sacramento State College and graduating with a teaching credential.

Ida taught every elementary grade except eighth during her teaching career in Galt Elementary School District.

In 1985 she became a roving vice principal, first going to three schools, then to Fairside and Valley Oaks. She completed her career as principal at Valley Oaks Elementary School from 1989 to 2000 when she retired.

She has two children — a son who retired from the Galt Police Department and a daughter who is an elementary teacher at Arcohe School.

Retirement started Ida on a new career — a voluntary position that she thoroughly enjoys. She oversees the “Where History Comes Alive History Education Program” at McFarland Ranch which she started with John Durand.

She also schedules weddings and other events. Ida demonstrates all that can be accomplished after retirement — and enjoys all she does.

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