(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Cella family in the California wine industry : oral history transcript / 1984"

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 



The Wine Spectator California Winemer. ural History Series 



John B. Cella II 
THE CELLA FAMILY IN THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 



With an Introduction by 
Maynard A. Amerine 



An Interview Conducted by 

Ruth Teiser 

in 1984 



Vol. >o- I 



Copyright 7 1986 by The Regents of the University of California 



All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal 
agreement between the University of California and 
John B. Cella II, dated July 29, 1986. The manuscript 
is thereby made available for research purposes. All 
literary rights in the manuscript, including the right 
to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the 
University of California at Berkeley. No part of the 
manuscript may be quoted for publication without the 
written permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library 
of the University of California at Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication 
should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 
486 Library, and should include identification of the 
specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the 
passages, and identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with John B. Cella II requires that he be 
notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which 
to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited 
as follows : 

John B. Cella II, "The Cella Family in the California 
Wine Industry," an oral history conducted in 1985 by 
Ruth Teiser, Regional Oral History Office, The 
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 
1986. 



Copy No. 



San Francisco Chronicle 
May 20, 1998 



John B. Cello II 

John B. Cella II, a longtime 
leader in the California wine in 
dustry, died of heart failure at 
Queen of the Valley Hospital in Na- 
pa on Saturday at age 79. 

Mr. Cella was born in New York 
City and started his work in Cali 
fornia's wine business when he 
was only 16. He later moved West 
for good, eventually dividing his 
time between homes in San Fran 
cisco and Napa. 

His first winery jobs brought 
him to Fresno, where he spent 
summers working at the family- 
owned Roma Wine Co. Roma was 
the state's leading winery during 
the post-Prohibition era, and by 
1937 was the world's largest, ac 
cording to the Cella family. 

In 1939, Mr. Cella graduated 
from the University of Notre 
Dame with a bachelor's degree in 
commerce. He enlisted in the U.S. 
Army during World War n, serv 
ing first as a private, and was later 
commissioned a second lieutenant 
in the Finance Department and in 
the South Pacific. At the end of the 
war, he had reached the rank of 
major and was honorably dis 
charged from the service. 

Just before America's entry in 
to World War n, his family had 
sold Roma. At the end of the war, 
the family opened new wine busi 
nesses. Mr. Cella returned from 
the war in 1945 to serve as vice 
president of the new ventures, Cel 
la Vineyards in Reedley and Napa 
Wine Co. in Oakville. He was 
named president in 1960. 

The next year, he sold the win 
eries to United Vintners and was 
named the company's vice presi 
dent for operations. In 1964, Mr. 
Cella moved to San Francisco with 
his family. 

In 1969, Mr. Cella was appoint 
ed vice chairman and vice presi 
dent of United Vintners, and 
stayed with the company until tak 
ing a vice president's job with. 
Guild Wineries in 1981. He retired 
in 1991. 



During his career, Mr. Cella 
was active in the California Wine 
Institute, and also served on a 
number of civic boards, including 
the boards of the San Francisco 
Opera and the San Francisco Boys 
and Girls Club. He also served on 
the boards of several Fresno orga 
nizations. 

Mr. Cella was a member of the 
San Francisco Rotary Club and 
Chamber of Commerce, as well as 
the Bohemian Club, the Pacific- 
Union Club, the Silverado Country 
Club and Villa Taverna. 

He also held memberships in 
The Family, a fraternal club; the 
Olympic Club; the St. Francis 
Yacht Club; and the World Trade 
Club, where he served as a board 
member and vice president. He 
was honored as a Knight of St. 
Gregory and a Knight in the Sover 
eign Military Order of Malta. 

He is survived by his wife of 52 
years, Tina Parachini Cella; his 
daughter, Barbara Cella Wilsey, 
and son-in-law, Michael Wilsey, of 
Atherton; his son, John L. Cella, 
and daughter-in-law, Sally Barry 
Cella, of Hillsborough; and his son, 
Peter Cella, and daughter-in-law, 
Laura Regan Cella, of Woodside. 
He also leaves 10 grandchildren, 
three step-grandchildren and two 
great-grandchildren. 

Services will be private. Dona 
tions may be made to the San Fran 
cisco Boys and Girls Club, the 
American Heart Association or the 
San Francisco Opera. 




JOHN B. CELLA II 



Photograph by Vano Photography 
San Francisco 



TABLE OF CONTENTS John B. Cella II 

PREFACE i 

INTRODUCTION, by Maynard A. Amerine v 

INTERVIEW HISTORY vi 

BRIEF BIOGRAPHY vii 

I ROMA WINE COMPANY 1 

J. B. and Lorenzo Cella 1 

The Cella Wine Company and the Petri Family 2 

The Roma Wine Company, 1924-1933 5 

Concrete Tanks and Bank Financing 9 

John B. Cella II, Early Years and Career Beginning 12 

The Growth of Roma, 1933-1941 15 

Innovative Promotion 23 

The Sale of Roma to Schenley, 1941 25 

The Cella Family 28 

II CELLA VINEYARDS 32 

The 1946 Market Boom and Bust 36 

Cella Labels and Wines 37 

Betsy Ross Grape Juice 42 

The Sale of Wineries and Wines to United Vintners 44 

III CORPORATE CHANGES SINCE 1961 47 

John B. Cella II, Vice President, United Vintners, 1962-1969 47 

Allied Grape Growers and United Vintners 50 

The Sale of United Vintners to Heublein, 1969 and 1978 58 

Heublein's Sale of Major California Properties, 1983 62 

The Sale of the Cella Properties, 1961 and 1971 64 

John B. Cella II, Vice President, Guild Wineries, Since 1981 66 

An Overview of the Wine Industry 68 

TAPE GUIDE 70 

APPENDIX - Response of Louis R. Gomberg to inquiry regarding 

his recollection of how the sale of United Vintners, 

Inc., to Heublein, Inc., came about. 71 

INDEX 72 



i 



PREFACE 



The California wine industry oral history series, a project of the 
Regional Oral History Office, was initiated in 1969 through the action and 
with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, a state marketing order 
organization which ceased operation in 1975. In 1983 it was reinstituted as 
The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral History Series with donations from 
The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. The selection of those to be 
interviewed is made by a committee consisting of James D. Hart, director of 
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; John A. De Luca, 
president of the Wine Institute, the statewide winery organization; Maynard 
A. Amerine, Emeritus Professor of Viticulture and Enology, University of 
California, Davis; Jack L. Davicc, the 1985 chairman of the board of directors 
of the Wine Institute; Ruth Teiser, series project director; and Marvin R. 
Shanken, trustee of The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. 

The purpose of the series is to record and preserve information on 
California grape growing and wine making that has existed only in the memories 
of wine men. In some cases their recollections go back to the early years of 
this century, before Prohibition. These recollections are of particular value 
because the Prohibition period saw the disruption of not only the industry 
itself but also the orderly recording and preservation of records of its 
activities. Little has been written about the industry from late in the last 
century until Repeal. There is a real paucity of information on the 
Prohibition years (1920-1933) , although some commercial wine making did 
continue under supervision of the Prohibition Department. The material in 
this series on that period, as well as the discussion of the remarkable 
development of the wine industry in subsequent years (as yet treated 
analytically in few writings) will be of aid to historians. Of particular 
value is the fact that frequently several individuals have discussed the same 
subjects and events or expressed opinions on the same ideas, each from his 
own point of view. 

Research underlying the interviews has been conducted principally in 
the University libraries at Berkeley and Davis, the California State Library, 
and in the library of the Wine Institute, which has made its collection of in 
many cases unique materials readily available for the purpose. 

Three master indices for the entire series are being prepared, one of 
general subjects, one of wines, one of grapes by variety. These will be 
available to researchers at the conclusion of the series in the Regional Oral 
History Office and at the library of the Wine Institute. 



ii 



The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record 
autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed significantly 
to recent California history. The office is headed by Willa K. Baum and is 
under the administrative supervision of James D. Hart, the director of 
The Bancroft Library. 



Ruth Teiser 
Project Director 
The Wine Spectator California 
Winemen Oral History Series 



10 September 1984 
Regional Oral History Office 
486 The Bancroft Library 
University of California, Berkeley 



ill 

CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY INTERVIEWS 
Interviews Completed by 1986 

Leon D. Adams, REVITALIZING THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 1974 

Maynard A. Amerine, THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AND THE STATE'S WINE 
INDUSTRY 1971 

Philo Biane, WINE MAKING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND RECOLLECTIONS OF FRUIT 
INDUSTRIES, INC. 1972 

John B. Cella, THE CELLA FAMILY IN THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 1986 

Burke H. Critchfield, Carl F. Wente, and Andrew G. Frericks, THE 

CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY DURING THE DEPRESSION 1972 

William V. Cruess, A HALF CENTURY OF FOOD AND WINE TECHNOLOGY 1967 

William A. Dieppe, ALMADEN IS MY LIFE 1985 

Alfred Fromm, MARKETING CALIFORNIA WINE AND BRANDY 1984 

Joseph E. Heitz, CREATING A WINERY IN THE NAPA VALLEY 1986 

Maynard A. Joslyn, A TECHNOLOGIST VIEWS THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 1974 

Horace 0. Lanza and Harry Baccigaluppi, CALIFORNIA GRAPE PRODUCTS AND OTHER 
WINE ENTERPRISES 1971 

Louis M. Martini and Louis P. Martini, WINEMAKERS OF THE NAPA VALLEY 1973 
Louis P. Martini, A FAMILY WINERY AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 1984 
Otto E. Meyer, CALIFORNIA PREMIUM WINES AND BRANDY 1973 

Norbert C. and Edmund A. Mirassou, THE EVOLUTION OF A SANTA CLARA VALLEY 
WINERY 1986 

Robert Mondavi, CREATIVITY IN THE WINE INDUSTRY 1985 

Harold P. Olmo, PLANT GENETICS AND NEW GRAPE VARIETIES 1976 

Antonio Perelli-Minetti, A LIFE IN WINE MAKING 1975 

Louis A. Petri, THE PETRI FAMILY IN THE WINE INDUSTRY 1971 

Jefferson E. Peyser, THE LAW AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 1974 

Lucius Powers, THE FRESNO AREA AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE INDUSTRY 1974 

Victor Repetto and Sydney J. Block, PERSPECTIVES ON CALIFORNIA WINES 1976 

Edmund A. Rossi, ITALIAN SWISS COLONY AND THE WINE INDUSTRY 1971 



iv 



A. Setrakian, A LEADER OF THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY GRAPE INDUSTRY 1977 

Andre' Tchelistcheff, GRAPES, WINE, AND ECOLOGY 1983 

Brother Timothy, THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AS WINEMAKERS 1974 

Ernest A. Wente, WINE MAKING IN THE LIVERMORE VALLEY 1971 

Albert J. Winkler, VITICULTURAL RESEARCH AT UC DAVIS (1921-1971) 1973 



INTRODUCTION 



John B. Cella's father and uncle were involved in the California grape 
and wine industry from before Prohibition until their deaths in 1960 and 1959 
respectively. John Cella started working in their Lodi winery in 1939 and 
joined them after World War II. Since he is still active, one has a very 
personal picture of the Cella family's involvement in the California industry 
since World War II and, by memory and some research on his part, back to his 
uncle's and father's start. During much of this time they were friends, 
associates and related by marriage to the Petri family. Their close and often 
complicated business relationships are covered in this interview, which adds 
to its interest considerably. 

Historians will delight in the account of the many corporate changes of 
the family interests over the years. Dozens of small and large business 
transactions are noted, in many cases, together with reasons why they were 
made. Occasionally, as in the sale of Roma, there is a touch of regret. What 
would have happened if the Cellas had not sold Roma? 

John Cella's personal role in the California wine industry is examined in 
some detail, particularly from Cella Vineyards to United Vintners, Allied 
Growers to Guild Wineries where he is currently employed. 

This is a valuable historical document on the California grape and wine 
industry. It relates huge financial transactions in California vineyards and 
wineries. In the text there are comments on varieties of grapes and wines, 
concrete tanks, Reitz disintegrators (possibly overly generous), screw cap 
bottles, new grapeareas (Snelling) , individuals (from the Gallos to Ted Kite, 
Bert Turner and dozens of others, some comments cautious), early radio adver 
tising, grape juice, Heublein, Allied Grape Growers and Guild Wineries. 

The strong family influence of their wine operations is emphasized, 
especially their work ethic. His uncle was, from this account, obviously a 
man of great business ability. He credits his father as being a master wine 
salesman. 

John Cella emerges as a faithful and tactful recorder of his family's 
and his part in the California grape and wine industry since Prohibition's 
repeal. It is a history worth having. 

Maynard A. Amerine 
8 September 1986 



vi 



INTERVIEW HISTORY John B. Cella II 



This interview with John B. Cella II fulfills an aim long held by the 
Regional Oral History Office to record the history of the Roma Wine Company 
and the Cella family that propelled it to the position of California's 
leading winery of the post-Prohibition period. 

John B. Cella II is the son of Lorenzo Cella, one of the two brothers 
who led the enterprise, and the nephew of the other, John Battista Cella. His 
entire career except for World War II service has been spent in the California 
wine industry, first as a conscientious member and then leader in his family's 
Roma Winery and Cella Vineyards, then successively in United Vintners and 
Heublein, Inc., and Guild Wineries and Distilleries. A man of equable mind, 
he has given here a remarkably fair and balanced account that covers a wide 
range of aspects of California's large wineries. 

The interviews were held in Mr. Cella 's apartment in San Francisco on 
the crest of Russian Hill. He spoke thoughtfully. When he reviewed the 
transcript he made few corrections . 



Ruth Teiser 
Interviewer /Editor 



17 September 1986 

Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 



Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 

vii 

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION 
(Please print or write clearly) 

Your full name ^AcVvrv V^ .^ <= \to ^~ 

Date of birth M.^/ ^XS \^V? Place of birth 

f 



Father's full na^ WQ^^ x\-? ,, d 
Birthplace Q 



Occupation WAV^V^ Cjy^ 



Mother's full name GL vo^TT'xH A VNvg \LH'\ 

\ r ^. ^ \ ' 

Birthplace .^AMv^ Vr- v vj %.~ y yx \ , Ji_ -\ p. 

Occupation _V\(, 



Where did you grow up 



Present community "'^ -Cy\\"V<r C^v.^L^\e V, 



Education Hs ^J> . \>rw ^ c.\^v^<raC < \3s^^^Kv\ v a | V)-^^^ V 

"*" "V" 



Occupation (s] 



V io e* \ v^^s.> x^v^ v\A.\VJ voi-evxv^^ A VvSTu^vtx-? ^ 



Special interests or activities vONCi^B. . Vj\^^-x. c> ^-VT.cA) 

^ T 



viii 



JOHN B. CELLA II 

945 Green Street 
San Francisco, CA 94133 



BORN: May 29, 1918 - New York City, NY 

EDUCATION: University of Notre Dame - B.S. in Commerce, 1939 

MILITARY: U.S. Army 1941-1945; Service South Pacific, Honorable 
Discharge, Rank Major 



1939-1941 Roma Wine Company - Owned by family, Purchasing & Sales 
1945-1971 Cella Vineyards - Family owned winery and vineyards 

V.P. 1945-1960 
Pres 1960-1971 

1961-1981 United Vintners, Inc. 

V. P. Operations, 1961-1969 
Vice-Chairman & V.P. 1969-1981 

During period - Commodity Sales 

Control State Sales 

Grower & Industry Relations 



1981- 
Present 



ACTIVITIES: 



HOBBIES: 
CLUBS: 

MARRIED: 



August 15, 



Guild Wineries & Distilleries 
V.P. Commodity Sales 

; Past V.P. Wine Institute 

Board Member - San Francisco Opera 
Board Member - San Francisco Boys Club 
Past V.P. & Board Member - World Trade Club 
Past President - Villa Taverna 

Golf 

Bohemian Club, Pacific Union, St. Francis Yacht Club, 
Rotary, World Trade Club 

Wife - Tina 

Children: Barbara Wilsey 

John L. Cella 

Peter M. Cella 

Grandchildren: 7 
1984 









I ROMA WINE COMPANY 

[Interview 1: November 18, 1985] ## 

J.B. and Lorenzo Cella 






Teiser: Let me begin by asking where and when you were born. 
Cella: I was born in New York City, May 29, 1918. 
Teiser: And your parents 's names? 

Cella: My father was Lorenzo, and my mother's name was Giustina Belloni, 
both of whom were born in Italy, migrated here as young people to 
New York City. They did not know each other in Italy. They met in 
New York. They were married in New York City. I am one of two 
children. I have a sister who still lives in New York. 

Teiser: What is her name? 

Cella: Her name is Bianca Marchini. 

Teiser: When did your father come to this country? 



Cella: I'm not sure of the exact year. He came shortly after my uncle, 

J.B. Cella,* came. My uncle came in 1898 when Admiral Dewey returned 
from the Phillipines. My father came a couple of years later. So 
it would be about 1900 or 1901. 



##This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 70. 

*John Battista Cella, always known as J.B. Lorenzo Cella, was 
usually called "Lori." 



Teiser: How did your uncle happen to come? 

Cella: Like many Europeans looking for a better life, he left home in 

Italy and went first to London. He worked in London as a cook and 
a chef, and then came to the United States because his older sister 
had already come here. The rest of the family came in different 
stages. My father came after my uncle. And then there were several 
sisters and brothers that came later. And their mother and the 
father eventually came. The whole family left a little village up 
in the mountains called Bardi, which is near Parma, in northern 
Italy. 

Teiser: It's a pattern, isn't it, for children to come one-by-one and then 
the parents to come? 

Cella: Particularly where they had the elder children, and they couldn't 
all come at one time, or they couldn't afford to come at one time. 
They had a little grape growing and wine business over there, nothing 
of any consequence. But they were making a living out of it. That's 
why eventually they did get back into the wine business here. 

Teiser: When your uncle and father, then, first came to this country, they 
came to New York? 

Cella: Yes. 

Teiser: And what did they do there? 

Cella: Well, they were looking for some kind of work to do. They did what 
little they knew at that time. In the case of my uncle, he had been 
working in the hotels in London, so that he had a little background 
to go into some hotels and work as a cook and then worked up to a 
chef. My father, on the other hand, didn't have that background. 
He was a busboy in the hotels. They both worked at the Astor Hotel 
in New York at that time, then eventually got into the Waldorf- 
Astoria Hotel. That wasn't for a long period of time, because 
eventually they started getting back into the wine business. By 
back into the wine business I mean that they would be buying wine, 
and then they would go around to the neighborhood and sell wine in 
jugs. That was really the start of getting back into the wine 
business . 



The Cella Wine Company and the Petri Family 



Teiser: They bought their wine from Europe? 






' 







00 

c 



O T3 



OS -H 

iH 3 



U W 



l-i O 
O 



2 O 

cu -u 

!3 CO 

>-i 

cu cu 

c a 

cu 3 



T3 

c c 

O -H 

a 

cu c 

03 ^ 

O 

OO 43 

O 

a\ to 
rt 



o M 

u M 

CU CO 

C iH 

H pH 

& CU 



PQ 
G 

O 

1-1 






Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 



No, they bought California wine, 
like the Petris.* 

From the beginning? 



And 



bought wine from people 



Right from the beginning. They had met and known each other almost 
from the time he had come to the United States. They would buy wine 
from the Petris. They would ship it in barrels. And then they 
would fill gallon jugs and peddle them along the streets of New York. 

About when did they start this? 

This would have been about 1915. They had what they called then the 
Cella Wine Company. I've got a picture down the hall here I'll 
show you later, of a little wagon with a horse and the family stand 
ing around the wagon. For a brief period of time before that, my 
uncle and my uncle by marriage, who married one of my uncle's 
sisters, had a company called Cella and Broglio. That was something 
that they did for a couple of years together, doing the same thing 
as they were doing afterwards, buying wine and then reselling it. 
But eventually this uncle (Broglio), he and his family left and went 
to Cleveland and established a restaurant. After that, the Cella 
Wine Company started. 

When Prohibition came, my uncle went to California and really 
started to buy the wine. My father stayed in New York to sell the 
wine, rather than both of them come out here to California. They 
continued that until eventually they bought a little company called 
the Weston Wine Company, which was a winery in Manteca. 

I thought there was a story about your uncle coming here to see the 
1915 exposition. 

He could have. I don't recall. I don't remember hearing that. But 
I don't think he came here at that time to permanently establish 
himself. I think that was right after Prohibition began. 

The Petris were associated with the Weston Wine Company? 

Yes, [Angelo] Petri and a man by the name of Dante Foresti had the 
Weston Wine Company. You've heard of that name? 



*For an account of the Petri family in winemaking, see Louis A. Petri, 
The Petri Family in the Wine Industry, an oral history interview 
conducted in 1969, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley, 1971. 



Teiser: Yes, I interviewed him.* 

Cella: The Petris were very, very close personal friends. But then my 
uncle bought the winery outright, and had that winery, which was 
really the start. It was later in 1924 that they bought the Roma 
Wine Company. They started to establish it at Lodi. 

Teiser: Isn't the winery at Manteca still there? 

Cella: There are a few buildings left there. And there's a tower. But 
it's no longer a winery. I think there's a construction company. 
That water tower became quite a landmark during the thirties, 
particularly for the airlines. At that time there were DC-2's 
flying in California. That was one of the beacons they had to 
identify to know where they were. 

Teiser: Did your uncle and your father buy the winery, or did they buy a 
share of it? 

Cella: Initially they bought a share of it. Then they bought the winery. 
Even during that period of time, if you look into the oral history 
on Louis Petri, you'll see where the Cellas also bought an interest 
in the Petri Cigar Company, which became the Petri Wine Company. 
We were very close with the Petris at that time. As you may recall, 
my uncle's youngest daughter, Flori, married Louis Petri. And so 
the family had even a closer association. 

Teiser: Did your family continue to operate the Weston winery in conjunction 
with the Roma Winery at Lodi? 

Cella: Yes. When we had the Roma Wine Company, we also had the Weston Wine 
Company, which became part of the Roma Wine Company, another one of 
the wineries. And then eventually in '35, to my recollection, they 
bought the Santa Lucia Winery in Fresno. That was the largest winery 
of all. Then our headquarters was changed from Lodi to Fresno. 

Teiser: Let me go back a little bit here and ask you some further details 

about the New York aspect of the business, the Cella company there. 

I assume that it progressed from peddling jugs to larger merchandising? 

Cella: Not really. It never became a major recognized brand as we recognize 
a brand today. It certainly didn't reach the recognition or the 
prominence, whatever you want to call it, that the Roma brand did 
before Repeal, and certainly after Repeal. It was basically a family- 
oriented type of sale to the neighborhood areas that got larger and 
larger. But it never was a large operation. It didn't compare to 
some of the brands that were established at that time. 






*A summary is included in the interview with Louis A. Petri, op. cit. 



f 1 



o 

rH 
ON 



o 

N 

c 



7, 







o 

cfl 

ca 

4J 
CO 

H 
4-1 
4-1 

pq 

C 
O 



Teiser: It didn't supply retailers then? 

Cella: Just local retailers. It was under the Cella brand at that time. 

Teiser: There was a label? 

Cella: There was a label, oh yes. I'm trying to say that it wasn't a 

brand that was distributed in that same sense as a brand, for instance 
at that time, like Italian Swiss Colony, or Virginia Dare. Those 
were recognized established brands at that time. 

The Roma Wine Company 1924-1933 



Teiser: The family interest went fairly directly then, from a rather small 
operation in New York to a larger one in California, is that right? 

Cella: The break came after they purchased the Weston, and particularly 
after they purchased the Roma Wine Company. Not that Roma was an 
established brand of any consequence at that time. But that was the 
impetus that gave them the growth that you have heard about. But 
this was during Prohibition. Most of the business was in shipment 
of fresh grapes and the sale of grape concentrates at that time. We 
went through, like many of the people did, grape concentrate; they 
used to produce "grape bricks." And then there was the medicinal 
and sacramental wines. Italian Swiss and Virginia Dare were the 
established brands for bottled wines out here, in contrast to what 
was shipped in bulk to New York where my father would be selling it 
in bulk or rebottling into gallon jugs. 

That went on about two or three years before Prohibition was 
repealed. When Repeal came, we already had some established brands, 
both the Cella and the Roma brands. 

Teiser: I came across in the Chancery Archives here a letter from your uncle 
to the archbishop in San Francisco asking for 

Cella: approbation 

Teiser: Yes, for supplying wines to the church. It sounded as if the firm 
hadn't been distributing wines in this diocese. 

Cella: That's probably true, because, particularly at that time, you had to 
have approval of each diocese, not just approval here that allowed 
you to go to any other diocese with it. That's very likely that that 
was the case. 



1 i. CCLLA. riitiomr 
L. CCILA. tlCC-riHIDfilT 




tSTA 



iao" 



5a 



EA^ A 7 
OMA WIN 




] 



I J' NGf I', 



HOME ornce 

* M o N s wOUi noc 

l.OOl. CALIFORNIA 



LODI 10MOCD WINERY 
NO. lilt 

LOO! lONOtO 
DISTILLERY MO. 4S 

ARTEC* BONDED 
WINERY NO. 1237 

ANTICA BONDED 
DISTILLERY NO. 431 

NEW YOU IONDED 

WINERY NO. 132 

LOS ANSELU BONDED 

WINERY NO. lit* 



December 21, 1935 



Reverend Thomas Connolly 
Chancery Office 
1100 Franklin Street 
San Francisco, Calif 

Most Reverend Sir: 

We are hereby making application for 
your approval, to sc-11 altar v<ines. 

Our wines zn. v-^ry sound, made fron 
pure gripes and contain no foreign substances. 
Our dry wines run btt^ecn 12 to 14$ alcohol and 
our sweet wines are arounu 18 % alcohol. Mr. John 
Lunardi, a very devout catholic has been head 
winemaker for our firm for the past thirty five 
years. 

Vve have ^uite a demaxid for altar wines 
and being a Catholic firm we would appreciate it 
very much if you could make it possible for us to 
supply this trade. 

For references we refer you to Bishop 
Armstrong of Sacramento, Father O'Connor of Niles 
and Father Hardemau of Lodi. 

We would be very pleased to submit sam 
ples if you so desire. Thanking you we remain 

Respectfully yours, 



RCUA V.INE COMPANY 







Reproduced with permission of the Chancery Archives, Archdiocese of 
San Francisco . 



Teiser: Did they have any kind of monitoring system for wines for liturgical 



Cellar 



Teiser: 



Cellar 



Teiser: 



Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 

Teiser: 

Cella: 

Teiser: 

Cella: 



I don't think they did, no. It was a matter of honor. I couldn't 
visualize any company putting out a sacramental wine for church use 
without having the approval of that particular religious group, 
whether it was Catholic or Jewish or Episcopalian. 

Louis P. Martini said they had a rabbi living at the Kingsburg winery 
who kept an eye on their kosher wines. 

That was very likely. In fact, we used to produce wines, which we 
haven't done now I say "we" whether it's the Cella family or the 
company I've been with we've produced many gallons of kosher products, 
wines as well as grape concentrate. During that time that we were 
doing it, we always had a rabbi present during the production, 
because you had to adhere to certain rabbinical procedures in making 
it. 



Louis said they weren't supposed to use sulfur, 
did. 



but he thought they 



I think they all did at that time. It was the only means really of 
preserving the wines; otherwise they would end up with vinegar. I 
wish we could have had the equipment and so forth. And then, of 
course I 'm not too sure what the words are when you have the 
Orthodox Jew, which adheres very precisely to the doctrine, and then 
you have the more liberal 

Reform. 

Reform Jews, who look at it differently than the Orthodox. So 
there is some liberal thinking in the procedures, yes. 

Maybe they think differently about sulfur? 

Even to the extent of clarifications and sterilization. 

When your family shipped grapes, did they ship to auctions, or did 
they ship to specific customers? 

Most of it we shipped to auction. I remember as a young boy, my 
father taking me down to the yards in New York and New Jersey where 
the trains would arrive. There would be loads of cars, loaded with 
these various boxes of grapes in there. You would have people come 
there and buy directly. For instance, when I lived not right in the 
city, but out on Long Island, which is part of New York City (as you 
know, New York has various boroughs) we would go in these neighbor 
hoods, particularly the European neighborhoods. And the little 



Cellar grocery stores would have piles of these boxes. They would go to 
the track and buy boxes of grapes and then bring them to their own 
little grocery store. Or they would go to the auction. That would 
go through a house like Di Giorgio, which was very, very big in 
handling most of the auctioning in the East, particularly in New 
York. Chicago was another big place, Cleveland was another big 
place. There you had the ethnic groups, the Europeans, Germans, 
Italians, and whatever they were. 

A lot of the grapes that they shipped at that time, of course, 
were the Alicante [Bouschet] . That was one of the famous varieties 
that they would ship; also Muscats and whites. 

Teiser: Do you know how they got them? Did your uncle have vineyards here? 

Cella: We had very little vineyards at that time. We would buy the grapes 
from different growers. We would buy them on the vine. Then you 
would have them packed by one of the packers and shipped. 

Teiser: You were mentioning the varieties that they shipped during Prohibi 
tion, Alicante and Muscats. Do you recall any others? 

Cella: Zinfandel. Carignane was another one. And there was Petite Sirah. 

There was very little of what we now consider to be the top varietal 
grapes. I'm not sure that this is the case, but I don't remember any 
Cabernet Sauvignon, or Chardonnay, or Chenin blanc, any of those types 
of grapes. Zinfandel was a very popular grape that was shipped. 

Teiser: I suppose it was grown a good deal in the Lodi area then. 

Cella: Oh, yes it was. It was in the Lodi area and all the way down into 
the central San Joaquin Valley. All the way down into the southern 
San Joaquin Valley. Di Giorgio himself was a very big shipper. He 
had grapes of all those varieties at that time.* 

Teiser: The concentrate, was there anything special about the technique? 
Was that developed during Prohibition? 

Cella: I really can't technically answer that. I don't think it was 

developed during Prohibition. I think it was certainly improved 
during that period of time because of the equipment. That's basically 



*See Robert and J. A. Di Giorgio, The Di Giorgios: From Fruit Merchants 
to Corporate Innovators, an oral history interview conducted in 1983, 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, 1986. 



8 



Cella: a very simple process of applying heat to fresh juice, and through 
evaporation within a closed c vainer have the steam go over and 
remove the water content that there was in juice. All juice has 
whether it's orange juice, grape juice, or grapefruit juice has 
water as probably the largest content. It becomes concentrated. 
Instead of a liquid juice with twenty or twenty-two degrees of sugar, 
which is the original sugar of a grape (that isn't to say that 
they're all that they go from sixteen, seventeen, all the way up to 
twenty-four sugar or more) , the water is removed to a point where 
the concentration is someplace between sixty-five and seventy degrees. 
Today practically all concentrate produced in California is at about 
sixty-eight degrees. Going over sixty-eight degrees, you get a 
little sugaring, where the crystals appear rather than have it a 
syrupy type of concentrate like a maple syrup that you're familiar 
with, or that most people are familiar with. It is a very syrupy, 
thick fluid. 



The thing that has improved greatly since those days is that 
the method of concentration keeps and retains the flavor and color 
of the grape. In those days it was very difficult because the equip 
ment wasn't that refined and the product that was produced had a 
kind of a burned taste to it . It was a brownish color instead of a 
nice deep purple. On the other hand, people who were buying concen 
trate during Prohibition were buying it for the sugar content more 
than they were for anything else, because sugar is what converts 
into alcohol. And they were producing wines from this concentrate 
that they would buy. And of course, they were doing it legally, 
because even during Prohibition you could produce wine for your own 
consumption at home. There was a limit as to the gallons that you 
could produce, but you could produce it. 

Teiser: Was it shipped in small quantities? 

Cella: My recollection was that most of it was shipped in large quantities. 
When I say large, in a fifty-gallon barrel as compared to a quarter 
of a gallon. 

Teiser: It was sold to consumers mostly in gallons? 

Cella: Yes, when it got to the other end, then it would be refilled into a 
smaller container. 

Teiser: I assume that your uncle and your father together were banking on the 
repeal of Prohibition. 

Cella: Oh, yes. Of course, they went into the business before Prohibition 
came. But they stayed in the business during Prohibition. I know 
that they both thought that eventually it was going to be repealed. 



Cella: But they had no crystal ball to know that it was going to happen in 
1933, or 1931, or '36, or what year it was going to happen. But the 
mood of the country was such that you could see it coming on. Prior 
to Repeal, the Roma Wine Company in Lodi, particularly, was expanded 
in anticipation of this thing happening. It was to the credit of 
them, particularly my uncle, who was very aggressive in his thinking 
all the time. 



Concrete Tanks and Bank Financing 



Cella: He was really one of the pioneers in developing what at that time 
was something new, new for the United States, the concrete tanks. 
He was probably one of the first people to build concrete tanks. 
Today, of course, nobody wants concrete tanks anymore. Everybody 
wants stainless steel. That's the cycle that they went through. 

When Prohibition was repealed, we were probably in as good if 
not better position than almost anybody in California to meet the 
demand that came suddenly. We had wines that were not just produced 
that year. They had been produced in anticipation of it for at 
least a couple of years before that time. That was quite an advantage 
that they had. 

Teiser: How did they get enough capital to do all that during Prohibition? 

Cella: That little organization called the Bank of America. Mr. A. P. 

Giannini, he had a way of operating and faith in certain people. Why 
he loaned them the money [laughs] you never questioned why he did. 
He did it because our past history and dealings with him had always 
been that he had never been concerned about getting repaid. He was 
always repaid. I can recall going later, as I got involved with the 
business more, and meeting him and going with my uncle, not only to 
A. P., but also to Mario. He would say, "Hey, Battista, what do you 
need now?" He would tell him what he was going to do; that he wanted 
to build these tanks, he needed the money, and that Prohibition was 
going out. They would start chatting about almost anything, and 
then he said, "Okay, you got it." And that was it. It was as simple 
as that. It was a different world of banking at that time. The same 
thing happened after his son Mario took over. 


Teiser: You were saying this was not unique. 

Cella: It wasn't unique with my family. I know for sure that the Petris did 
the same. And other people like the Rossis of Italian Swiss Colony, 
and Louis Martini.* All those people were dealing with the bank. I 
don't know if they refused anybody. I'm sure they must have. But 
they also had an informal dealing as we did. 



*Louis M. Martini. 



10 



Teiser: 



Cella: 



Teiser; 



Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 

Teiser; 
Cella: 



You hear about all the successes, 
times that he guessed wrong. 



I wonder about the failures, the 



There were failures. You know in the thirties, there were a consider 
able amount of failures. I won't try to analyze what caused the 
failures, whether it was the management of the wineries themselves, 
or the people who were running those wineries, or they were trying 
to expand too fast before they really had the business that they were 
hoping for. 

I remember reading about a celebration in honor of a new addition to 
the Roma winery in Lodi. It must have been in 1932, before Prohibition 
actually ended, to dedicate this new facility. I believe that one 
of Mr. J.B. Cella 's daughter's, who is now Mrs. Yoder, sang. 

Yes, Alma. His daughter Alma I wouldn't say she was a professional 
opera singer, but she was very much involved with the opera and used 
to do a great deal of singing and had a beautiful voice. She never 
pursued the career as such, although she did do certain performing 
not only locally, but also here in San Francisco. My aunt was Alma's 
mother. The two of them, and even Ebe,* her sister, always had a 
background of music. A lot of their friends were people in the opera, 
particularly. I can remember in New York, when I was just a young 
boy, and my aunt and uncle had Gigli come by the house and stop in 
to see us, which was a big event for us, particularly being of Italian 
extraction. It was quite a thrill. 

The description of the Lodi celebration made it sound as if they were 
really ready for Repeal. 



They were sure it was coming . 
was, as the saying goes. 



They put their money where their mouth 



You were speaking of concrete tanks. Were they lined? 

No. They were not really lined. What they did is that the initial 
use of the tanks was for juice that was going to be fermented. That 
gave it a lining. Under today's scheme of things you wouldn't even 
think of doing it that way. You would put an epoxy lining in there 
and have it like glass lined. After several fermentations, those 
tanks had really a smooth coating; what it really amounted to was a 
tartar that kept the wine from first being absorbed into the concrete, 
or the concrete taste coming into the wine. 

All of that wine, of course, had to be treated. When I say 
treated, it had to go through the usual wine procedure of finishing 
and cleaning and filtering which made it more of a stable type of 
product, bearing in mind also that at that time we were talking about 



*Ebe Cella, later Turner. 



11 



Cella: the wine industry that was at least seventy percent dessert wines, 
in contrast to what we know today as the table wine business, which 
is now just the reverse: at least seventy percent [table wines], 
and maybe ten percent dessert wines, and the rest are sparkling 
wines and other types of wine. The wines that were produced, mainly 
dessert wines, were good wines and adequate wines. But the table 
wines, except on a very small scale, were different then than they 
are today. 

Teiser: The basis of this is that wines with higher alcohol content are 
less fussy? 

Cella: That's right. They will survive rougher treatment than a fine, 

delicate white wine, particularly, or even a standard red wine that 
has lower alcohol . 

Teiser: The concrete tanks had some insulating quality, did they not? 

Cella: Oh, yes. That was, of course, one of the benefits of the tanks, 

that they did have that. In the valley it gets reasonably cold in 
the winter. I don't mean it gets down to twenty-eight degrees or 
something like that. But you get down into frost conditions of cold. 
The cellar will remain cool for the whole winter and into a good 
part of the spring. 

Teiser: I remember Ed Rossi said that when he as a young man went traveling 
with his father, they were in North Africa and saw concrete tanks 
there . * 

Cella: I was going to say that the original, as far as I'm aware of, concrete 
tanks of any great extent in size came from Algeria. They were one 
of the first to get into that. That's where we got our idea from, 
from the Africans and the Europeans who had already also gone into 
the concrete tanks. We were slow in getting into them. We were slow 
because we had Prohibition here. The wine business was not growing 
and booming enough to put in those kind of facilities. We did, only 
when we came to the belief that Prohibition was going to be out 
pretty soon. 



*Edmund A. Rossi, Italian Swiss Colony and the Wine Industry, an oral 
history interview conducted in 1969, Regional Oral History Office, 
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1971. 






12 



Teiser: Are there concrete tanks still in use now? 

ella: Yes. They are in the central valley particularly. I don't know 

that there are any left anymore in the north coast, Napa, Sonoma and 
Mendocino, unless you get into one of the old, old wineries, who may 
still have some. That's because the north coast was practically all 
table wines. They were all making lots of small volume. Even the 
fermenting tanks were made of wood. 

[phone interrupts] 
Teiser: What was the Alba Wine Company? 

Cella: I can tell you very little about that. I knew nothing about it. It 
was part of that Weston Winery in Manteca, in which the Petris, 
Forestis, and the Cellas had an interest. It never operated as an 
ongoing company like the other ones did. I really can't tell you 
other than the fact that the interest was with those three people. 
It seemed to me that it was a means of marketing their products 
together. It was primarily the operation out of the Escalon winery 
and one of the brands of grapes and wine . 



John B. Cella II: Early Years and Career Beginning 



Teiser; 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



At the time of Repeal were you out here? 

What I used to do is when I was still going to school, I was living 
in New York with my mother and father. And then in the summers I 
would come out here, starting particularly about 1935. I came out 
and worked in the winery during the summer. Then after I got out of 
college, which was in 1939, I came out here and stayed, and lived 
with my aunt and uncle. 



You grew up on Long Island, did you say? 



I was born in New York City, in Manhattan. Then we moved to a part 
of New York City called East Elmhurst, which is in the borough of 
Queens. As you know, New York has five boroughs that are all part of 
the city. That's where I grew up as a young boy. It's right where 
La Guardia Airport is now. 



I went into the service. I came back from the service, 
time my parents had moved out of there. 



By that 



13 



Teiser: Where did you go to school? 

Cella: I went to school at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. 

Teiser: What did you study? 

Cella: Business administration. I came out in '39 and came to California. 

Looking back now, so many things that I wish I had done. But 
like most young people at that time, we were anxious to get out of 
school and go to work. Looking back, if I had known what I know 
now, I certainly would have liked to have gone for something at 
Davis and gotten some real background rather than the hard knocks 
of going through the winery and learning it that way. I don't know 
whether that's good or bad. I always thought that instead of rush 
ing out, I should have gone to graduate school or gone to law 
school. Not that I have any regrets. 

Teiser: When was your first trip to California? 
Cella: My first trip to California was 1934. 
Teiser: What did you think of it? 

Cella: I was fascinated with it. I had visions of what it was going to be 
like, partly because every time my uncle and aunt would come to 
New York they would always be bringing something like a box of dates 
and so forth like that. I always figured it was palm trees all over 
the place and things like that. I was totally impressed with 
California. I loved Lodi. I thought it was a great city, and just 
a joy living there as a young person. We had a lot of fun and a lot 
of hard work. It's total dedication. We lived right there at the 
winery. The house was located right on the winery property. We 
would always eat together, go out together, do things together. 
There were a lot of younger people there, and cousins. And they had 
cousins on their side and on my side of the family. We did a lot of 
things together. It was a very enjoyable period of our life. 

Teiser: Your cousins were three girls? 

Cella: Three girls, yes. The youngest was Flori.* 



*See also page 4 . 



14 



Teiser: What was your first job? 

Cella: When I first came out in the summers I would just work in the 
winery, cleaning tanks, doing regular manual work and so forth 
like that. The first year I came out after college, I was in the 
winery during the crushing season, working in the fermenting room. 
That was an all-day and all-night job. At that time we used to go 
and take the readings on the tanks for sugars and temperature. We 
used to shovel out the pomace and do regular labor work. 

Teiser: Was that your first real knowledge of winemaking? 

Cella: Yes, yes. I would go there in the evenings, and the winemakers 
would be there working at night. I would try to learn from them 
whatever I could, and learn from the manager of the winery, just 
about anything and everything . 

Teiser: Who was the winery manager at that time? 

Cella: It was my uncle's brother-in-law, a man by the name of Lawrence 
Moroni . The winemaker at that time was a man by the name of 
[W.E.] Ted Kite. You probably have heard of Ted Kite. He's got a 
long history in the wine business. Ted was our winemaker and chemist 
in Lodi at that time. At that time we didn't have titles of wine- 
maker. He was our chemist. The winemaker was my uncle. He was 
the winemaker . 

Teiser: Your uncle was very innovative in many ways, wasn't he? 

Cella: He was really something. He was always two steps ahead of everybody.* 
He had ideas of doing things, not only in the production, but also 
in marketing, sales. In the production end of it, he really had 
some good ideas. For instance, he had a tamper-proof cap on the old 
Roma bottle. It had a plastic cap. It had a rim around it, and you 
couldn't open it without breaking that rim. 

Teiser: That was the first one? 

Cella: That was really the first tamper-proof. I think about these kind of 
things when you read about these crazy people with the Tylenol, and 
how they're doing things to those packagings. Here was a very 
simple device. You couldn't open it without breaking that ring. 



*See also pages 29-30. 



15 



Cella: For our sherry he had these glass-lined pipes on the roof of the 

building. He would have the wine go through there. We marketed a 
wine called "solarized." [laughs] It was a marketing device. It 
really didn't add any vitamins I'm sure, but it certainly gave him 
a selling point. 



The Growth of Roma, 1933-1941 



Cella: I'm trying to think of some of the things that he did. Of course, 
we were very, very big in radio at that time, particularly in New 
York. My father had quite a big radio advertising program. He 
had people who came and worked with and for us. We had Jack Earle. 
I don't know if you remember that name. He was the world's tallest 
man. We had him going all over the country. We bought him an 
automobile, a white Pontiac, if I recall rightly. We had to have 
it built specially for him, because he couldn't sit in the front of 
a regular automobile . 

Teiser: How tall was he? 

Cella: He was eight feet, six and a half inches. He had a calling card 
that was six inches by ten inches, you know. And, of course, he 
would walk into a retail store and the man didn't need anything. 
He's so impressed with this man walking in there, he'd always 
come out with an order. 

Teiser: I think I once got into an elevator in the Palace Hotel with him. 

Cella: He used to stay there. He was a very kind and gentle man, too. A 
very nice person. 

Teiser: What sort of promotions did he do then? 

Cella: Mostly calling on our wholesalers. And then he would go out with 

the wholesalers' salesmen, and they would call on the retail trade. 

[phone interrupts] 

Teiser: I have notes on some other innovations here. I remember reading 

that your uncle installed commercial laundry equipment to wash the filte 
cloths. Were there other things like that? 






* 7> 

CALIFORNIA 



CALIFORNIA 



ALCOHOL 207. 
BY VOLUM E 




Roma label design, 1937, for 1936 vintage "solarized" muscatel 



16 



Cellar 



Teiser: 
Cellar 



Teiser: 
Cellar 

Teiser: 
Cellar 



Teiser: 
Cellar 

Teiser: 
Cellar 
Teiser: 
Cellar 



Well, I never took too much time to think about that. I can't think 
of anything specific at this time. I might be able to rack my 
memory and see if I can come up with things. We had automatic 
lines, bottle washers and so forth. Those lines were available to 
anybody and everybody. Bit it was a matter of your size and whether 
you needed anything to that extent. And because of our size we were 
one of the first to install automatic lines. 

[phone interrupts] 
Conveyers? 

Yes. He didn't originate these things. They were available and 
just because we were large we probably were one of the first to 
use those kinds of things. The same with case sealers and other 
equipment. 

You also had a yeast laboratory. 

The yeast laboratory, particularly on the champagne making, was 
probably one of the original and unique in California. We were 
producing then, also, wines naturally fermented "in this bottle." 

Methode champenoise? 

Yes. We were doing Charmat process, but we also had the other 
process, which was kind of unique. We had a man by the name of 
Joseph Grasso. He was one of the pioneers in "naturally fermented" 
in a particular bottle. 

Did you develop your own yeast, did you propagate your own yeast? 

My recollection was that they originally had gotten it from the 
University of California and then from there, we developed and 
propigated our own. 

That would have been from Maynard Joslyn. 
Yes. 



And Julius Fessler of the Berkeley Yeast Laboratory? 






Yes. That's right. In fact, Fessler is a name that I associate 
with that more than the others. 

I think we probably were prouder of our sherries than we were 
any of the dessert wines that we did produce. And we did have the 
old slow sherry -baking tanks. You'd go into these rooms and it would 



17 



Cellar be just permeating with the smell of this wine cooking away like 

almonds. That was really one of the better things that we produced 
at that time. And of course then we also got into doing some of 
these specialty things. Originally we called one "Sherry and Egg," 
and then it became Creme di Roma. 

Teiser: What was it? 

Cella: Sherry and egg. And it had the most beautiful sweet taste to it. 

It was very, very smooth. It had the taste of the sherry, obviously, 
but also with an egg smoothness to it. 

Teiser: Like Marsala? 

Cella: Yes, but different taste than Marsala. But eventually because of 

the government regulations, unless we had half as much eggs you had 
to have half eggs and half sherry to call it Sherry and Egg. We 
couldn't do that, so we changed it to Creme di Roma. It was bottled 
in a Benedictine type of bottle, a liqueur type of bottle. I don't 
have any around anymore. Guild* still makes a product similar in 
taste to it . 

Teiser: I should think those products would be on the way back now. 

Cella: Yes, strangely enough a lot of the young people are drinking those 
types of products. 

One of the things that we used to make quite a bit of, also, 
was what we call heavy-bodied blending sherry. This was a very, very 
sweet, dark, syrupy type of product that was used by the distillers. 
Under the tax laws they could add this to their bourbons, and not 
have to pay the tax for that portion of it. So it was a savings to 
them, and they used to use quite a bit of that type of product. All 
the big distillers like Schenley, Seagrams and National Distillers 
used it. They all had wineries who produced mostly for them. We 
produced for two of these three, Seagrams and Schenley. 

Teiser: Did you make other things to go into other products? 

Cella: Not at Roma. Later on in the Cella Vineyards, one of the innovations 
that my uncle tried to do for the wine industry and the grape 
industry as you'll recall we had all these surplus grapes then as 
we do now he was trying to find outlets to utilize these grapes. 
So we came out with a California grape juice, bottled grape juice 
Betsy Ross. And we were doing reasonably well. It was a different 
type of product than the usual Concord grape juice that we're all 
familiar with. And the sales got up to, oh, over 350,000 cases a 
year, which is not too bad, starting at that time. 



*Guild Wineries and Distilleries. 



18 



Teiser: I'm going to ask you about that later.* I'm sorry you stopped 
making it, because I liked it. 

Cella: [laughs] So did all my children. 

Teiser: Roma grew then quite fast, just after Prohibition was repealed, 
didn't it? Almost immediately, it seems to me, its marketing 
position took the lead over Fruit Industries. 

Cella: Oh yes, I'd say a year later, within a year. 

ff 

Teiser: You said that Roma pulled ahead of Fruit Industries about a year 
after. 

Cella: Let's see. By 1935 Roma was the number one brand. Roma, Fruit 
Industries, Italian Swiss Colony. 

Teiser: In that order? 

Cella: Yes, so maybe Italian Swiss or Fruit Industries one of the two 
was number two. Roma became number one. 

Teiser: Roma, then, had the wineries at Lodi and . 

Cella: It had the Lodi, it had the Manteca and it had the Fresno wineries. 

Teiser: What was the Prima Vista in Healdsburg? 

Cella: Oh, Prima Vista was a table producing winery that they had up there. 
Very, very small. 

All the bottling was done at Fresno. Well, first it was done 
at Lodi. And then when we moved the headquarters to Fresno, the 
bottling moved down there also. 

Teiser: Do you know anything about the purchase of Prima Vista? 

Cella: No, I don't. I can't recall anything on that, and I've asked my 

cousin [Ebe Cella Turner] whether she didn't remember anything and 
she couldn't remember anything either. Other than the fact that it 
was just a small, little, dry wine producing winery up there, just 
to have some north coast wines that they used to blend in with some 
of their wines at that time. 



*See pages 30 and 42-44. 



19 






Teiser: 

Cella: 

Teiser: 

Cella: 

Teiser: 

Cella: 

Teiser: 

Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Did you not own it very long? 

I think they bought it in the mid-thirties. 

Did you keep it until you sold Roma to Schenley? 

No, it had been sold before that time. So it was sold before '41. 






And what was the United States Winery? 
The United States Winery? 

Some place along the line Roma was said to have bought the United 
States Winery and the Monarch Wine Company. 

The Monarch Wine Company we had a little building in Lodi, next to 
our Lodi winery. And the Monarch Wine Company was the Monarch Wine 
Company in Brooklyn. In order to be able to put "produced by 
Monarch Wine Company," they had to have a winery in California. So 
this was an accoranodation for them. No, we never owned the Monarch 
Wine Company, and I don't even remember anything about the United 
States Wine Company. I have a feeling that that might have been 
a similar arrangement. 

Can you account for Roma's early, very fast growth? 

[laughs] I like to think that it was a result of two people my 
uncle and my father. I think they did the right things at the right 
time and they anticipated certain things and did them. They were 
innovative for the times, oh, particularly on spots on the radio, 
jingles. I think their pricing philosophy was such that they had 
a very, very aggressive sales force. You know, we used to bottle 
in New York; we shipped tank cars back there. They would bottle 
the wine there. Most of it, as I said before, was dessert wines. 
My father had one of the largest sales forces in the whole metro 
politan area back there. 

Did you own your bottling plant? 

We leased space in the Starrett-Lehigh building. In fact there 
were three wineries in that building. We were there, K. Arakelian 
was there, which was Mission Bell, and Cribari was there. The three 
of us were in the same building. It was a multi-storied, large, 
west-side warehouse, with a railroad track coming right into the 
building and that type of thing. 

The three of us used to have the wine come in in tank cars. 
We would empty the wines into tanks. Then we had filtrations and 
automatic bottling lines, and it was a regular warehouse. 




John Battista and Lorenzo Cella at the Lodi wine cellar, ca . 1937, 



20 



Teiser: I wonder if the fact that your father was in New York and could 
exer: personal surveillance and control 

Cellar I think that had a great deal to do with it. His aggressiveness 

there as well as my uncle's innovativeness out here in California. 
They were just an ideal combination. One was in the east and one 
was in the west, and they each did their own thing. There wasn't 
any conflict in the family about anything. Each did what he thought 
was right to do. 

You see firms in later years who aggressively went ahead, while 
others either stumbled or went into bankruptcy. And why? Well, we 
could all come up with reasons why one is successful and the other 
one isn't. But basically it's the leadership and the management of 
the people doing it. 

Louis Petri's company grew because of Louie's innovation and 

aggressiveness. His buying of wineries at the right time and brands 

at the right time. Gallo, gosh, that's a history in itself, what 
he's done. It's tremendous. 

Teiser: I see parallels between Roma and Gallo. 

Cella: I like to think that there are parallels. One was at a different 

time and a different era and I wouldn't know what to say if somebody 
were to ask, "What if you had stayed in the business?" Those kinds 
of things you can speculate on. We know that when we sold, it was 
the largest winery in the country or the world, whatever you want 
to call it. And yet we were small in comparison to the large ones 
of today. But for the period, for the time, in total consumption, 
we dominated it. So, it's an interesting parallel. 

And also the parallel of two brothers, one in production and 
one in sales. Basically, that was the situation with my father and 
uncle, and it certainly is with the Gallos. 

Teiser: What if you had stayed in? 

Cella: Who knows? I'd like to think that we would be real great competitors 
of Ernest and Julio. It's hard to know because, you know, we did 
come back into the business* after we had sold, and then we sold out 
again. The winery was a pretty sizable winery at that time. 

Teiser: I know there's a lot of discussion of estate taxes in connection with 
the Gallos these days; I don't know how much of a factor that was 
in your sale to Schenley. But I imagine family companies have to 
think about the future. 



*With Cella Vineyards . 



21 



Cella: They do indeed. They have to think about the family, they have to 

think about the remaining part of the family after any or all of the 
original group pass on. Those are part of the considerations. 

And the other factor, of course, that entered into it at that 
time, was that we were coming into war time. In fact we were at 
war. So that became a very serious consideration in view of the 
fact that we knew that there were restrictions on grapes and use of 
grapes. We were producing a product in facilities that could be 
turned into alcohol production for the government. All of those 
kinds of things. And here you have a family totally involved with 
one operation. So I'm sure that weighed very heavily on both of 
them in their decision to sell.* 

Teiser: Your main label was Roma. What were the others? 

Cella: Oh, La Boheme was one of the big, big labels, particularly in the 
east coast. That's spelled just the same as the opera La Boheme. 
That was a big, big brand. Then they had another one called 
Romanette, which was a small take-off of the word Roma. 

We also had Cella, but Cella never was as large as Roma. And 
a decision was made to pursue Roma rather than Cella because at 
that time the major method of advertising was on radio. At least 
it was for us. We did have, of course, the printed word in news 
papers and billboards. But people would look at it, and they would 
see "Sella" and not "Chella." And even today, I always have to 
spell my name, most of the times anyway. So Cella was not our 
number one brand, but we did also have that. 

The J.B. Cella was the big brandy brand that we had. That and 
A.R. Morrow were the two leading brandies at that time. Christian 
Brothers was just beginning to come up. 

Teiser: Was your brandy made at Lodi? 

Cella: The brandy was made at Lodi and later on in Fresno. And then also 
at Manteca. 

Teiser: It seems to me that part of the success of Gallo was said to have 
come from the fact that it promoted only one label for many years. 



*See also pages 24-26. 



22 



Cella: Well, the man who could tell yi the reason for success is Mr. 
[Ernest] Gallo himself. I'd have to be speculating as to 
my own thoughts on why they we^ successful. Certainly, I think 
they were successful for a number of reasons. First of all, both 
Gallos are extremely hard-working people. If there's twenty-five 
hours in a day, they'll work twenty-five hours a day. And when 
Ernest Gallo goes out on the road and visits markets, even today 
he stops and sees his product in stores no matter where they are. 
And if it's not there he wants to know why it's not there. So 
what I'm saying is, first you have to have the dedication of the 
people, and they both are that way. 

Secondly, they had one operation at that time, concentrated in 
one place, which is always easier to operate than when you have two 
or three or four. And then, the fact that they were selling one 
brand, I think, certainly gave them the impetus to succeed, more 
so than if they were trying to sell several brands, as we were. I 
think the prime example was Coca-Cola at one time. Although Coca- 
Cola, like Gallo now, consists of many brands. 

They also took advantage of certain situations and certain 
markets. They were not national at one time. They went into the 
New York market, if I remember correctly, right toward the end of 
World War II. And they went into the New York market at a time 
when everybody else was saying, "Now the war is over, we're going 
to raise our prices, no more price control," and everything else 
like that. They went in there and said, "We're not going to raise 
our price until the end of the year," and this was sometime like 
in April or May. And, by golly they didn't. Everybody else starts 
to raise their prices, and they went in there and they captured a 
good part of that market. They did about the same thing again 
when they went into Chicago. 

And then they did a little acquisition, but not too much 
acquisition. The major acquisition that they did was in Pennsylvania, 
which is a control state, and you have to get listings of brands. 
They bought out a company called Pio. Pio was a big brand in 
Pennsylvania. From that, they became Pio-Gallo, Gallo-Pio, Gallo- 
Gallo. But I'm not the one to tell you about Gallo. Of course, 
that's been written already; that's been done already. 

Teiser: But it's interesting from the point of view of somebody who has 

seen another company grow. I asked you about it because I know that 
there was a good deal of controversy about Fruit Industries' decline. 
Some people thought it was because they scattered among too many 
labels instead of concentrating upon one or two. I guess Eleven 
Cellars was the last attempt to establish one. 



23 



Cellar Yes. 

Teiser: I'm sure there were other factors too, 

Cella: Oh, I'm sure that there are. 

Innovative Promotion 






Teiser: Your radio and other advertising was done through agencies, I 
assume? 

Cella: Yes. Here in California we had a one-man company called Renzo 

Cezano, I think that's the way you spell it. He was a very unusual 
person, very exuberant, and you couldn't talk to him without feeling 
a sense of effervescence bubbling all over the place. He would 
always have something he was the one who really set up our adver 
tising. One of the big things that we did do was during the World's 
Fair here on Treasure Island. We hired Art Linkletter for the first 
time. He had this World's Fair party. And that was one of the 
big, big shows that really, I think, was a major move to put Roma 
well ahead. I see Art every once in a while and he has some 
recollections of all that. 

Teiser: Would you describe what that was? 

Cella: It was typical of what he did later on in years. He was interviewing 
people there at the World's Fair. What do you call it? A talk 
show. 

Teiser: It went on the air? 

Cella: It went on the air, and it was held on Treasure Island. They had 
all these people in this big, big room there. He would be talking 
to Mrs. So-and-so from Kansas City, and So-and-so from New Orleans, 
and it was a talk show. 

Teiser: Was it daily? 

Cella: Yes, except on the weekends. Then in the east nothing unusual like 
that, but we did a lot of sports things, a lot of news things. One 
of the big brands that we had was Aroma di California. Aroma di 
California was an Italian-style wine, if you want to call it that. 
It was red and white. And that was very heavily advertised in the 
Italian newspapers, Italian radio in New York. And we went national 
on that one. In fact we had two beautiful young ladies, one blond 



2 LULTI 









n) 
o 



o 

c 

CO 

0) 

(-1 



(II 
d 

H 



cfl 

O 

PS 



n) 



ao 



1-1 

O 

D. 

60 
H 
1/1 



24 



Cellar and one redhead, to represent the white wine and the red wine. 

[laughs] Then of course, there was also the Vino Rosso, w- _ch was 
a big, big item at that time, in table wines. 

Teiser: You had a lot of fun. 

Cella: Oh yes, it was a lot of fun. [laughs] 

Teiser: I don't see that spirit in advertising these days. 

Cella: No, everything's so subtle. They're more concerned about the 

production effect than they are giving the message. I always had 
a very simple philosophy about what you should be saying when you're 
trying to sell something. You should tell people what it is, why 
they should buy it or use it, and how much does it cost. That may 
be simplifying it a little more than actuality, but it's still a 
pretty good philosophy. 

[phone interrupts] 

Teiser: I assume that by the time you sold the company to Schenley the 
sales had been increasing every year. 

Cella: Oh yes. It was still growing very rapidly. It had not just 

plateaued out. The industry was growing, and we were growing with 
it. 

Teiser: And you were still the leader? 

Cella: Yes. Italian Swiss, when they sold, which was a month later, they 
were the number two winery then. The second largest. 

Teiser: By then Fruit Industries was way down. 

Cella: Yes. 

Teiser: Was it the winery at Manteca that you sold first? 

Cella: Yes. We sold that to Schenley. 

Teiser: How did you happen to do that? 

Cella: Well, they made an offer. We had the facilities at both Lodi and 
Fresno. Manteca wasn't really needed. 

Teiser: I have 1938 as the date of that sale. 
Cella: Yes. 



25 



The Sale of Roma to Schenley, 1941 



Teiser : 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Would you tell about the sale of Roma to Schenley as you remember it? 

My recollection was that they had approached my uncle at least six 
months before the final papers, if you want to call it that, were 
signed in December, 1941. I was in the Army stationed in Indiana 
polis. I was supposed to fly out that night, but a snow storm 
prevented the plane from even landing; it just flew over. So I 
never did make it here. But it was a series of meetings between Mr. 
[Lewis R.] Rosenstiel and Milton Nauheim, who were the two people 
representing Schenley, with others of course many attorneys and 
many other people involved. But those were the two. 

Mr. Rosenstiel was the head of Schenley. He was a one-man 
operation and ran it just like the Bronfmans ran Seagrams. But 
Nauheim was one of his close, close advisors and associates. They 
started to hammer out the deal, talked about price, talked about 
brands, you know, what it all would include. And then my father 



started to get involved with it, also, as it progressed, 
like any other business deal. 



It was just 



We had to first convince ourselves that we wanted to sell. 
How did you do that? 

Well, being of Italian stock, if your father says you want to do 
something, the rest of the family more or less falls in place. Not 
that everybody in the family wanted to sell. But, when the time 
came, everybody was in agreement that we should be selling. The 
reasons were, as we mentioned before, we had come to a point where 
most of what we owned was wrapped up in this one business and here 
we were in the war, and the government maybe tomorrow would put us 
in such a position that we couldn't survive. 

The other thing was, here were two men that came over with a 
penny in their pocket, reached perhaps a point of success in their 
lives and the life of the wine industry equal to anybody and surpassed 
by nobody. In this Italian family this isn't only Italian, I'm not 
saying Italian because I'm Italian there's a great concern about 
family and the caring for the family. And here they probably saw 
this as an opportunity to assure that the family forever more, unless 
they threw everything away, would be well off in the future. 

Probably the biggest reason, though, that they came to sell was 
that the war was such that they didn't know where they would end up 
or how they would end up. I think probably there was some concern 



26 



Cellar over the fact that, you know, Italy was on the other side in the 
war. That made it even more difficult.* 

Teiser: You read the Fortune article describing the sale.** Did it ring 
true to you? 



Cella: 



Teiser: 



Cella: 



Yes, I think that basically it is. I wasn't there, so I can't say 
whether my uncle said, I reads] "I played poker once and I picked up 
the pot before the last hand was done. I'm not taking up that check 
until the deal is closed." I don't know if he said that or not. 
[laughs] If he didn't it makes good reading. If he did, it 
wouldn't surprise me. 

You know, we were one of the first also at that time to produce 
for a Safeway private label. Safeway had two brands. One was 
Fidelis and the other one was Monte Cristo. Fidelis was bottled by 
Petri and Monte Cristo was bottled by us. Monte Cristo was a higher 
priced wine. But the Petris had one part of it and we had the other 
part. 

** 



Were you the first to go into supermarkets do you think? 
Petri? 



You and 



No, I wouldn't say that. You know there were a lot of brands at that 
time which don't even exist anymore. For instance, there was a brand 
called Padre. You might remember that. It's in this [Fortune] 
article; they made an agreement with McKesson to give them national 
distribution for five years, and through McKesson they got into a 
lot of markets. 

Plus, supermarkets they existed at that time, but not to the 
extent that they do now. And in the supermarkets at that time, you 
have to remember that the wine section was a very small part of the 
business compared to what it is today. Then again, we get down to 
that dessert wines were the big items at that time, and most people 
would go into the regular liquor store to buy rather than go into a 
grocery store. 



*See also pages 30-31. 

**"The Big Wine Deal," Fortune, October 1943, pp. 125-128, 248-256, 



27 



Teiser: This reminds me of an article I came across somewhere about a 
"wineteria" opening in Lodi. I laughs] 

Cella: This was recently? 
Teiser: No, in the 1930s. 

Cella: Oh yes, well you know, at that time a lot of the outlets we used to 
put up barrels of wine, and deliver barrels to the retail stores. 
We would have a cardboard, what amounted to a label, that would 
cover the whole head of the barrel. You know you would have "Roma," 
"Sherry," "California's finest," and an opening where the spigot 
would come through. Then people would go there with a jug and that 
was a wineteria. 



Teiser: No, this was self-service, but I'm glad you mentioned that. 



Cella: 

Teiser; 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 



I'd like to go back to ask you something I forgot. 
Lucia winery, which your family bought in 1935 



The Santa 



That was the name of the winery in Fresno that we bought . The Santa 
Lucia winery at that time was what the name was, and it was owned by 
a man by the name of [N.D.] Naman and a man by the name of Krum.* 

How did they happen to build it? 

How did they happen to build it? Oh, that winery was there for a 
long, long time during Prohibition. It was an older, established 
winery there. 

Oh, I thought it had just been recently built, in 1933. 

Oh, no. No, no, no, no. Well, you could hardly find the old part of 
it after we got through building down there, but no, there was an 
old brick building there, and there was a semblance of a winery there, 
It wasn't we didn't go in there and start from scratch and just 
build a new winery at that time, no. It existed. Small, but it did. 
Looking back, industry people wanted to know, "Why did you buy it? 
Why didn't you just go and build a new one?" 



*According to an article in the Fresno Bee of November 14, 1942, the 
group that sold the Santa Lucia winery to Roma included John A. 
Arakelian, president, N.D. Naman, A.C. Adams, K. Arakelian, Charles 
Smith, and Earl Smith. 



28 



Teiser: So it wasn't then what it became later, the world's largest ? 

Cella: No, at that time it -v.-..s a very small winery. Fresno had many 

wineries, you know. There were literally dozens of wineries in 
that area that eventually just went out of business, either pushed 
out because of housing development or they had gone into bankruptcy 
and closed up. 

Teiser: When I visited it a few years ago, I was shown its stills 

Cella: Now we call it the Cribari winery. And it's got one of the finest 

distilling facilities in the state. Those were built after Schenley 
bought it. We had stills when we were there, but they went in and 
built a whole new complex with distilleries, and of course they knew 
distilleries. 

Teiser: Yes. 

. 

Cella: That's our main production of brandy now. 
Teiser: For Guild? 
Cella: For Guild. 



The Cella Family//// 

[Interview 2: January 15, 1986] 






Teiser: I'd like to ask about your cousin, Ebe, and also about Burton B. 

Turner, and their functions in Roma. And then their later functions 
in Cella Vineyards. 

Cella: Ebe was J.B.'s daughter, one of three daughters. The oldest was 

Alma who pursued an operatic career. She never got too involved in 
it but she did pursue it. And the other, youngest sister Ebe was the 
second of the three girls the youngest sister was Flori Petri. And 
she married Louis Petri. Ebe married a man from the Lodi area, by 
the name of Burton Turner. Burton's affiliation with us was as Ebe's 
husband. He was given a position in the company, and had the title 
of general manager for Roma Wine Company. 

Teiser: How did he happen to achieve that position? 

Cella: He had a very outgoing personality; he was a very presentable person. 
The fact that he married the boss's daughter, if I might use that 
expression, certainly didn't hurt him in his advancement. But 
basically he married Ebe and he fitted in very well at that time. 



29 



Teiser: She must have been and must still be, I'm sure, a woman of considerable 
ability. 

Cellar She always was the one who was involved with the business even during 
those early days there. We often joked about that fact that she 
should have been a man, she should have been a boy, because of her 
interest in business. This was before women were very active in 
business. She was always very active in helping her father, particu 
larly. As the years went by, she took a less active role, and 
particularly after the birth of her children. Burt Turner became 
more involved with the company. At the time, as you know, of the 
selling of the Roma Wine Company, she was not as active as she was 
at the beginning. 

Then later on, when we acquired Cella Vineyards, she was not 
active in that operation until after her father and my father died, 
and then there were the two of us. She was more active than she had 
been before. By that time she had divorced Mr. Turner and he was no 
longer active with the Cella Vineyards. 

Teiser: Was she important in Roma? 

Cella: She wasn't on an ongoing, daily, everyday basis. She didn't have a 

position that spelled out what she was doing, no. Her importance was 
of her interest in the company and helping and assisting her father 
wherever the need was. But it wasn't formalized, daily work that she 
was doing. 

Teiser: What was her father like? 

Cella: He was, in my opinion, one of the really outstanding men that I have 
ever met, and my privilege to have, really, lived with him, because 
I lived with him at the house, and worked with him during my formative 
years. I always visualized that if he were not in the wine business, 
if he had been in the army, he would have been a general. He was 
that type of a person. Not that he was overbearing or anything like 
that, or very aggressive outwardly. But he was a very intelligent 
man. He was always thinking about things to do, ways to not only 
improve our company and to go ahead with the company and build up the 
company but also trying to find ways to alleviate the problems that 
the wine and the grape industry were going through. 

Teiser: As a whole? 

Cella: As a whole. As you know, those were days when we have the same 

situation now, in a sense, where we had surplus grapes looks like 
this is something that we've lived with ever since we've been in this 
business. He was always attempting to do something to take care of 
this grape situation and also develop the wine business. 



30 



Cella: In later years when we had Cella Vineyards, it was his thought and 
idea that got us into doing this Betsy Ross grapo juice as another 
outlet for grapes, and also as an opportunity for ourselves to do 
something to try to build up the company. 

Teiser: Was he a cordial man? 

Cella: Yes, yes, he was cordial. He was not as cordial as my father. My 

father was more of a relaxed man, an easier man to sit down and talk 
to. He would enjoy people more than my uncle would, and would be 
more jovial, if that's the word. 

Teiser: Yes. I'd like you to characterize your father. 

Cella: My father was more of a salesman. I could say my uncle was the 
administrator, the planner. My father was the salesman type of 
person, even though he didn't have any education of any kind, or very 
little. He spoke with an accent. But he was perhaps one of the best 
salesmen that I have ever come across. He could sell anything. He 
had that kind of personality. He would meet people very well. He 
would be able to discuss things with them, businesswise. He was a 
salesman; my uncle was more not an introvert by any means but was 
not the hale and hardy, meet-you type of person like my father was. 

Teiser: Did your uncle have an accent or did he manage to get rid of it? 

Cella: No, he had a slight accent also. Not to the extent that my father 

did. And neither one of them had what you might characterize as the 
old Italian accent. They had a natural, cultured accent. As I have 
retained part of my New York accent. [laughs] 

Teiser: When the company was sold, then, did that free up a lot of cash? 

Cella: Well, it freed up a lot of cash, number one. Number two, people say, 
"Why did you sell?" If I have to give a very short answer (and I 
don't know if there is a short or a long answer) I say, here are two 
men who came over as immigrants with nothing, and slowly through hard 
work, really built up what at that time was the largest winery in the 
country. And here they saw war, the country's in war, here they were 
Italians * 

Teiser: Were they naturalized? 

Cella: Oh yes. There was no fear of that you know. The company was owned 
by people who came from Italy, but they were naturalized, as were my 
mother and my aunt . But their concern was what was going to happen 



*See also pages 25-26. 



31 



Cella: to the company. And the company had the name of Roma! Which was 

the capitol of Italy! {laughs] There were things, like the emblem 
on the label and on the stationary the Roman symbol with the ax on 
the top and the round, like a pillow you know that the old soldiers 
would carry. Well, that typified the old Roman empire. They took 
that off the stationary and off the labels, and things like that. 

So I'm saying that there was a concern as to what would happen 
to the company if the war goes on and on and on, and particularly if 
grapes were to be allocated to a point where they couldn't get 
sufficient grapes, or any grapes. Thompsons [Thompson Seedless] were 
taken out of the market; you couldn't buy any Thompsons. They went 
to raisins and for food and for making alcohol. 

And the wine grapes our business at that time was, and the 
industry was over 70% dessert wines. They weren't table wines. You 
weren't buying Zinfandels and Carignane and so forth to make port 
and sherry and muscatel. Those grapes like the Muscats and the 
Thompsons were used for alcohol production for the government and for 
raisins and for fresh shipping. So that was a concern to them. These 
are my recollections of the main reason for their even thinking about 
selling out at that time. And so they did. The old expression, you 
know, "Make 'em an offer that they can't refuse." And at that time 
what they were offered was a very outstanding thing. Nobody had 
ever heard of anything like that. 

So, the decision was made. All the family owned stock; that is, 
my uncle and my aunt, his three children, my father and my mother and 
my father's two children myself and my sister. Of course I don't 
know what would have happened if one of us had said, "No, we're not 
going to sell," [laughs] but I surmised, coming from an Italian family, 
that they would have convinced us to sell. [laughs] 

Teiser: The Fresno Bee said the selling price was $6,400,000. Is that correct 
according to your recollection? 

Cella: Yes. I was in the service when that happened. Stationed in Indiana 
polis. I was supposed to catch a plane to come to California for the 
signing and so forth, and there was a big snow storm in Indianapolis 
at that time and the plane never even stopped so I never made it. 

After the company was sold, my uncle went with Schenley and 
became a member of the board of Schenley. My father went with Schenley 
also, but remained for maybe only two years. He was not really 
adaptable to work for somebody and under somebody, as was my uncle. 
My uncle was more politically astute than my father in that regard. 
So he stayed there. 



32 



II CELLA VINEYARDS 



Cella: In 1944 we bought the winery and the vineyard out at Reedley, which 
was called at that time Wahtoke. (It's an old Indian name. I'm 
sorry to say I can't remember what the translation of the word is.)* 
When we bought that, from [Louis] Rusconi, we also bought what at 
that time was considered a pretty large vineyard, over 1,400 acres. 
Rusconi was a big shipper, and we bought a shipping shed at that 
time also. We would pack and ship ourselves. 

Teiser: That was as Cella Vineyards? 
Cella: That was as Cella Vineyards. 

Teiser: Let me go back a minute and ask you, if I may, a question about the 

sale to Schenley. Often when companies are bought, they put 

restrictions on the people: they can't go back into the same 
business, or they can't use the name. 

Cella: There was nothing like that. 

Teiser: There was nothing at all? 

Cella : No . 

Teiser: Do you think they intended at the time of the sale 

Cella: To go back into business? 

Teiser: to go back into business? 

Cella: No, I don't think that that was a consideration, or they had thought 
about doing it. If they did, I was never aware of it. 



*Apparently based upon the Yokut Indian word for "pine nut." 
(Erwin G. Gudde, California Place Names, University of California 
Press, 1962.) 



33 



Teiser: But they just went ahead and did. 

Cellar Well, in 1944 they decided to go buy this vineyard, and with the 
vineyard there was a winery. They wanted to stay in the grape 
business, and Rusconi had some good shipping grapes there. We used 
to ship grapes during Prohibition, as you recall my telling you. And 
my father was the one who in the east would do the selling of the 
grapes. So this was an opportunity to get what was considered one 
of the good wine grape vineyards. When I say wine grape the prime 
grape there was Alicante [Bouschet] , and of course today we don't look 
at an Alicante as a good wine grape, but it was the popular shipping 
wine grape at that time with most of the ethnic people in the east and 
particularly the Italians for home winemaking that they did. 

Now, this winery was just a small winery then. In that first 
year we didn't even operate it. That was in 1944. I came back in 
'45 and then my father and I started to operate that winery. In '45. 
My uncle was still with Schenley at that time. We continued for about 
three years, after which my uncle then decided to leave also. So 
then he came and the three of us were operating Cella Vineyards. 

My uncle had bought for himself a vineyard east of Merced, in 
the foothills, called Snelling. He started to develop that vineyard. 
That was about 1943-44. 

Teiser: I see. 

Cella: It was very difficult to develop that vineyard, particularly at that 
time. Drip irrigation was not even known. Here we were planting 
vineyards on hills and trying to irrigate by a check system, with 
some success. We did a lot of experimenting there, including use of 
geese to keep the weeds down. We'd fence in the whole ranch and add 
all these thousands of geese going all over the place. [laughs] And 
they did a pretty good job. But the production was small. The grapes 
were fine. They were practically all wine varieties. The Grenache 
we used to make the wine for Almaden at that time, and they would 
insist that it had to come from that vineyard. 

Teiser: What did they label it? 

Cella: Grenache Rose. When they started to plant their own vineyards over 

at Paicines and that area there, all those original cuttings came from 
the Snelling ranch. 

Teiser: Oh they did? 

Cella: They did. And my uncle and I used to go over there and there was a 
man by the name of Goulet . 







U-l 

cfl 

O 
C 
cfl 

C 
O 

H 

u 

H 
J3 
H 
JS 
O 



60 

C 



in 

0) 



60 



o 

CO 

3 
O 



cfl 
O 
H 



O 

u 



H 

a. 
a. 
H 



M 

O 

u-i 



0) 
XI 



TD 
01 







34 



Teiser: Ollie Goulet? 

Cella: Ollie Gouiet.* And we'd go out there to the vineyards and they had 
a little eld shack there and they had this ranch foreman, I've 
forgotten his name, but we'd have a great luncheon there, you know, 
with all kinds of breads and cheeses and salamis and so forth. They 
used to call it the Palace Hotel. [laughs] 

Teiser: This was south of Hollister? 

Cella: Yes. And then they planted other varietal grapes there. We never 
had any Cabernet Sauvignon to my recollection but we had the 
Chardonnay, we had the Semillon, we had Barbeia, Zinfandel. 

Teiser: Did you make that into wine yourself? 

Cella: All of it. We never sold them the grapes. We always sold Almade'n 
the wine. And other people also. 

Teiser: Where did you make that wine, then? 

Cella: We brought it down to the main winery at Reedley. Cella Vineyards, 
Reedley. Then during a period of time there we bought the Napa Wine 
Company . 

Teiser: I have August 1947 for that. 

Cella: That is correct. 

Teiser: How did you happen to do that? 

Cella: Well, my uncle wanted to get into some of the table wine business and 
we were buying table wines that we were using ourselves in our own 
production down there. So he decided he should start getting into 
that. So we bought that from Louis Stralla. 

Teiser: I read that it was the largest producer in the Napa Valley at that 
time. 

Cella: Yes, it was the largest winery; it really was. Larger than Christian 
Brothers was at that time. And it was, to my recollection, one of the 
few, if not the only, at that time, winery that had a distillery, which 
was rather unique for that area. 



*0liver Goulet . 



35 



Teiser: Did it have a label? 

Cellar Napa Wine Company. That was the brand and that was the name. We 

really didn't handle that as well as we could have, because there was 
always concern about "What's the brand? Napa Wine Company is the 
company, but what's the brand?" We would always say, "Napa Wine 
Company is the brand." And then we started to discuss, well maybe we 
ought to call it the N-W-C, or something like that. Well, we didn't 
see far enough ahead; we could have done that like BV did. [laughs] 

But I think the mistake we made was that we didn't bottle up 
there. We took all those wines that we produced up there, brought 
them down to Reedley and then bottled in Reedley. And here we were 
talking about the Napa Wine Company Charbono and we and Inglenook 
I think were the only Charbono producers "produced and bottled by 
the Napa Wine Company, Reedley, California." It should have been 
Oakville, Napa County, California. 

Teiser: Is that winery still in use? 

Cella: Oh yes, that's the production winery now for Inglenook. At the Oakville 
Crossing road. At the corner was Bartolucci. When I was at United 
Vintners, I negotiated the purchase of the Bartolucci winery* for 
Heublein. They had already owned the Napa Wine Company, which was 
right adjacent to it, and needed that for expansion of space. We only 
had so many acres there, and the people surrounding us didn't want to 
sell. So, eventually, we did get the Bartolucci winery in the 1970s, 
And that is the wine production winery for Inglenook. 

Inglenook doesn't produce any wines at Rutherford. They bottle 
there. They bottle their estate wines there, and their cask wines. 
But the production is there, at Oakville; that's the old Napa Wine 
Company. 

Teiser: How long did you keep that then? 

Cella: Oh, we kept that as part of Cella Vineyards. That was a separate 

corporation of Cella Vineyards. And then when we sold Cella Vineyards 
in 1961 to Louis Petri and United Vintners, they bought all our wine, 
all our inventory and all our wineries. They acquired both the Napa 
Wine Company and the Reedley winery. 

Teiser: I wanted to ask you about the Arvin Winery. You bought it in 1946. 

Cella: We really had nothing to do with that. It was bought by Turner and a 
man by the name of [Carroll H.] Craig. Craig was in charge of our 
cellar in Lodi when we had Roma way back there. And Burt and he were 
relatively good friends. So they decided that they were going to buy 
this wine business. So they bought it. But it didn't turn out to be 



*The Andres Bartolucci winery, d.b.a. Madonna Winery, 



36 



Cellar what they had hoped for. And as a gesture, if you want to call it 
that, my uncle and my cousin arranged for us to buy the winery, and 
we bought the winery. 

Teiser: There was a problem about some illegal distilling? 

Cellar There were some problems with the Bureau of Alcohol. That had 
nothing to do with us. 

Teiser r Yes, that was before you bought it. 

Cellar That's before we bought. And when we bought it, oh I think we kept it 
and operated maybe for a year or so, strictly making alcohol, high- 
proof down there. And then we sold it. We sold it to Johnny Kovacovich. 
It's an old family down in that area. They used to be big grape 
shippers. 

Teiser r The purchase of the Turner-Craig vineyards, was that involved in that 
same transaction? 



Cellar Yes. 

Teiser r I wanted to ask you about the 1946-1947 grape supply situation. I 

believe Schenley, under Rosensteil, tried to buy up all the grapes in 
California in 1946 



The 1946 Market Boom and Bust 



Cella: And all the wine. Yes. This was one of the few times I can remember 
my uncle and father disagreeing. My uncle wanted to hold on, and 
"don't sell, don't sell." My father insisted that if they think that 
they want to buy all the wine in California at the price that they're 
offering, let's sell it; you know, he was the salesman. Fortunately 
we did go ahead and sell it, because, as you know, the big bust came. 
It was Schenley with the wine that they paid over a dollar a gallon 
for $1.25, $1.50, any price. Which at that time was a tremendous 
price. We're talking a drop down to thirty cents a gallon after that. 
Only Schenley could have survived anything like that. But we didn't 
sell them any grapes, because we were making the wine. We sold them 
the wine, as did a lot of other people. 

Teiser r I believe they lost several million dollars. 

Cella: Oh, God knows how much they lost. They had to have lost more than a 
million. I don't know how many gallons of wine they bought, but they 
must have bought in excess of five million gallons, maybe up to ten 
million gallons. You take a dollar a gallon, which was what the loss 
was the following year, and that's what they lost. 



37 



Teiser: 

Cella: 

Teiser: 

Cella: 



My word. 

Oh, it was tremendous. 






I remember some people whom I've talked to have thought it served 
Rosensteil right. [laughs] 

Well, he was an individual in his own right. And I'm certainly not 
the one to talk about him. But talk about a leader and a forceful 
individual . He was unique in himself . 



Teiser: I came across an ad from the Fresno Bee of June 25, 1947. [reads] 

"Wine wanted by Cella Vineyards." Had you sold everything and needed 
to refill your tanks? 

Cella: Well, this is really something. Sales were a lot more than we had 

inventory, and we had the know-how and the means of selling bulk wine. 

Teiser: But that was 1947, when there was that big surplus! 
Cella: Yes, this was just before the break. 
Teiser: Oh, just before! 

Cella: Just before the break. And fortunately, we didn't get too much from 
that ad. [laughs] 



Cella Labels and Wines 



Cella: But it was also about that time that we started to try to develop 
[reads] I see you have here [on the interview outline] "Bravo label 
introduced in 1947." 

Teiser: Yes. 

Cella: We were looking to get back into a brand. We had the Parma Wine 

Company, and this advertising agency, whose name I don't recall now, 
came up with this brand name. It was a very unusual label. I don't 
know if you've ever seen one, and I don't know that I've got a copy. 
I don't have one right handy. If I went through the files I'd probably 
find it. It was a rectangular label but with a design that was like a 
rounded-top window, and the background of the label was black, so it 
blended into a dark green bottle and it gave an impression of being 
not a rectangular label but a label like the old Christian Brothers 
label that was shaped like a monastary window, if you want to call it 
that. It was something like that except that it was very plain. 



38 



Cella: We came out with advertising on radio and billboards and newspapers 
with what was perhaps one of the major advertising campaigns that's 
ever been done within a short period of time. You couldn't pick up a 
newspaper in California without seeing this ad. Unfortunately, it 
happened just before the big bust in the wine business. Here we were 
out there as if the business was growing and we just got caught in 
this terrible trap. Of course everything was committed. You don't 
buy newspaper advertising or anything like that the day before. There 
were billboards also. And we just took an absolute licking on that. 
The brand became known, but we just couldn't sell any wine. Business 
was a disaster. But the advertising was unique. 

Teiser: There were pairs of billboards. What was that? 

Cella: This was never done before. It was two billboards in a row: the 

first would have, oh, as an example, two people, a young lady and a 
young gentleman, each holding a full glass of wine. Just kind of 
looking, no expression. The next billboard, which was right down from 
it, the two were sitting next to each other, their glasses empty, and 
the two people smiling. This was Bravo Wine. It was telling a story, 
a message, without any words. Oh, it had a number of things like that: 
a bullfighter being chased by a bull, and the next billboard, he's 
chasing the bull . 

The same in the newspapers. We took a whole page, and rather 
than print on the whole page, there would be either just a small 
bottle of Bravo right in the middle or, "The nicest thing that ever 
happened to a grape Bravo Wine." Period. And that was it. 

And then we had a series of columns talking about wine when there 
was no such thing as a food editor writing about wine at that time. 
And we were doing that. They were doing a lot of innovative things, 
[laughs] Unfortunately it was just at the wrong time and we spent a 
considerable amount of money trying to promote that. That was the 
Bravo label. 

Teiser: Did you then just drop the whole label? 

Cella: No, no. We stayed with the business and we continued right until the 
end when we sold the company to Allied United Vintners. You know we 
had the Parma brand, we had the Bravo brand, we had the Napa Wine 
Company brand. Those were the three major brands that we had. We did 
a lot of private label business for different major supermarket chains 
and stores like Long's, Thrifty 's and those people. 

Teiser: Where did the wine stand in the general price structure? 

Cella: Well, we're talking 80% of sales being dessert wines, and most dessert 
wines were in the middle area. There were some premium dessert wines; 
maybe Inglenook had a little sherry or something like that. Christian 
Brothers had dessert wines that were higher priced. But our pricing 



39 



Cella: was the same price as Roma was, as Petri was, as Mission Bell was. 
We were priced the same as the popular priced advertised dessert 
wines. We were above the cheap I say cheap, it wasn't much cheaper 
but it was at that time pint business that was sold in the lower 
income areas. We didn't get into that. We were never in that price 
category. Those were usually by bottlers who used second-hand glass 
and things like that. So, we were in dessert wine pricing of the 
branded goods at that time . 

Teiser: But you made some table wines? 

Cella: Oh yes. Particularly what we made was what we called Vino Rosso. 
What used to be the Italian style, like Guild had Vino da Tavola. 
Cribari had a Vino, Petri had a Vino, California Wine Association had 
a Vino, all of us had a Vino. We were mostly in that category. 

Teiser: What grapes went into those? 

Cella: In our case, most of them were made from Cariganes and from Alicantes, 
We did make Zinfandel, and that was made from Zinfandel obviously. 

Teiser: I've been wondering if at the Reedley plant your closed system was 
a Rietz disintegrator. 

Cella: Yes. 

Teiser: How did you happen to install it? 

Cella: Well, here again, my uncle was always looking for advanced things to 
do, whether it was in production or whether it was in label designs, 
things of that type. He had heard about it, he had talked to some 
people who were aware of it . 

[Interruption] 

Cella: Stainless steel conveyors to the crushers was one of the early things 
that we had put in. Also temperature controls in fermenting tanks. 
Coils. From copper tubing to stainless steel tubing. We constructed 
steel-coated tanks in a refrigerated room for juice storage. 

Really, the interest my uncle had in grape juice also prompted 
him to get into a lot of these things too. Because the grape juice 
people had advanced equipment. They were primarily in the east, in 
New York state. They were more advanced in one aspect than we were, 
particularly in sanitation building, floors, tanks. They were going 
through things that we weren't to the same extent. First, we weren't 
required to, and secondly, our concern was not like theirs. They ran 
the risk of contamination. We were far ahead of them as far as 
crushing. They never did crush; they always pressed their grapes in 
batches, which is a much slower process than we were doing. 



40 



Cella: But the equipment that they had, particularly disintegrators and their 
vacuum pans for concentrating those were something that we got into 
at an early stage, before most of the wineries did. One of our major 
parts of our business was the production and selling of grape concen 
trate. We were one of the first California producers, where heretofore 
most of the concentrate or the grape juice was all Concord produced 
in the East and Northwest. 

Then they started to blend in California concentrate, still 
retaining Concord flavors, but finding a more economically priced 
product than the Concord. Because the Concord was a lot more expensive, 

Teiser: You're speaking of California concentrate supplied by Cella Vineyards 
now? 

Cella: Yes. This is all Cella vineyards. 

Teiser: Did you continue using the Rietz disintegrator? 

Cella: Oh sure. 

Teiser: Would you use one today? 

Cella: For certain operations, yes. 

Teiser: What were the disadvantages? 

Cella: They weren't big enough to handle the tonnage that we were handling. 

Teiser: Was the flavor better? I remember Rietz thought that the flavor was 
preserved. 

Cella: I don't know that it was. I wouldn't say that the flavor was better, 
no. 

Teiser: What was the advantage? 

Cella: Well, what you did do was thorough and quick and gave an opportunity 
for the grape to get into fermentation really quickly. 

Teiser: In 1949 the officers of the company were moved to the Hotel Californian 

in Fresno . 

, 

Cella: [ laughs J I don't know whose idea it was. I guess we were just 

sitting around at one time and thinking that instead of driving out to 
Reedley every day all of us lived in Fresno why don't we set up an 
office in Fresno? So here was the Hotel Californian, which was at that 
time the meeting place of wine people. Every morning I was there for 
breakfast. And all the wine people I shouldn't say all the wine 



41 



Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 
Teiser; 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 



people at least a half a dozen wine people would be there. And 
anybody coming to Fresno from the east, they would all stay at the 
Calif ornian Hotel. So, this was a gathering place. You'd see 
Schenley over there talking with one customer, Cribari over there 
talking with another customer, and I'd be over here talking to 
somebody else. Maybe the three, four, or five of us of Cella 
Vineyards would have breakfast together too. 

And 93 we thought if we're going to have our office in Fresno, 
let's have it right in the Calif ornian Hotel. So that's what we did. 
[laughs] It really didn't make any sense to have it there. We stayed 
there a couple of years, and then finally gave it up. 

I remember Setrakian* kept a room there, didn't he? 



Oh absolutely. He had a room there. 
And he'd be there for breakfast too. 



He was there the whole time. 



Teiser: 



It was a place where deals were made, I gather. 

Oh yes, many a deal was made in that place. 

I've often thought you could set a play in that lobby. 

You certainly could. It would be an interesting thing if you could 
have had one of those tape machines under the table or behind a couch 
some place. 

Did you use your Thompson Seedless for high-proof? 

Oh, we used it for high-proof, but we also used it for making white 
wines too. Because at that time we didn't really recognize and 
realize the difference. We weren't making varietal wines, and the 
market didn't require the grapes that we do now. You're not going to 
make chablis out of Thompson now. At least we [Guild] don't, and I 
don't think many major wineries do. I'm sure a lot of them use them 
in blending with other wines, because all of the Thompson grapes that 
are crushed by the wineries certainly don't go into brandy and high- 
proof . 

Just after Repeal, as I remember, the ordinary white wine was called 
sauterne. Was it any different from what we call chablis? 



*See Arpaxat Setrakian, A Leader of the San Joaquin Valley Grape 
Industry, an oral history interview conducted 1971-1976, Regional 
Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, 
Berkeley, 1977. 



42 



Cellar No, no, basically that's what it was. Of course we all became more 
knowledgable, the public particularly. [French] Sauternes, as you 
know, is not like Chablis. It's a sweet, very distinctive wine of 
itself. 

Teiser: Was the generic sauterne that they made here then a sweeter wine than 
the chablis we make now? 

Cella: No, if anything it was drier. It was a dry white wine. And burgundy 
was a dry red wine . 

* 

Teiser: Was the name "claret" used? 

Cella: We used to use "claret" quite often. And I still feel and I'm trying 
to convince our people that we should come out with claret. Outside 
of burgundy, claret was the other red wine. 

Teiser: Was there any difference between burgundy and claret? 

Cella: In our case, we always made the claret lighter than the burgundy. 

Teiser: I remember the joke about Italian Swiss Colony that had people bottling 
claret on one line and burgundy on the other and the story was that 
they would both come out of the same pipe 

Cella: I don't know. [laughs] Well, I'm sure that in many cases, that was 
the case. 

Italian Swiss Colony, they had a product that was absolutely 
unique; that was Tipo. It's a shame that that wasn't continued by all 
the owners of that company, because they had something that nobody 
else had. We had the same wine, but nobody else could call it Tipo. 
And Tipo was a classic name that's another story. 



Betsy Ross Grape Juice 



Teiser: I want to ask you about Betsy Ross grape juice. 

Cella: Well, here again, as I mentioned earlier*, this was my uncle's doing, 
really to try to find an outlet for surplus grapes in California, 
and at the same time perhaps build up something for our company that 



*See also pages 17-18 and 30, 



43 



Cella: 



Teiser : 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 
Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



was not competitive with the other wineries. So Betsy Ross was born. 
We originally started out with strictly what should I say? standard 
California grapes. And the product was fairly good, relatively good, 
but it didn't have any distinction or substance to it. So what we 
did eventually was to add a natural Concord flavor to it, not to have 
it taste like a Concord grape juice but to give it some little 
semblance of a flavor. Because California grapes with the exception 
of Muscats are not a very distinctive flavorful grape compared to 
a Concord or a Catawba or a number of the eastern grapes. True, those 
of us in the business would recognize a varietal grape today, but by 
and large the public would not know if they were drinking a Chenin 
Blanc or a Pinot Chardonnay juice, if you had a juice of one or the 
other. Maybe they would, but I don't think that most people would. 

So this then really gave a boost to this grape juice. Plus one 
of the things that we did which was unique in itself we built a cold 
storage refrigeration room with ten 100,000 gallon tanks where this 
juice was stored, and it was stored at freezing temperature. So we 
had the juice available for bottling when we needed it. 

We put in a new bottling line. And of course we had to have 
bottle washers, sterilized bottles and we had to have coolers to cool 
the bottles after pasteurization. We built this up to about 350,000 
cases. 






Did you use ultra-violet? 



Well, we had the ultra-violet along the line there, as an added plus 
to help in inhibiting bacterial growth. 

In the bottling line? 

Yes. 

Did you have trouble ? 

Fortunately we didn't have any trouble because if you have trouble 
then you've lost that juice and you have to make wine out of it. 
[laughs] But we had sufficient controls that we didn't have that 
problem. 



I thought it was good. I regret that 






My family keeps telling me why don't you make it again. And the thing 
about it was that it was a product that you could drink a whole glass 
and you felt refreshed, compared to Concord grape juice, which has a 
gnawing, sweet taste to it. .But Heublein was not interested in 
continuing it. We continued it with United Vintners, but we didn't 
continue it after United Vintners sold the company to Heublein. 



44 



Cellar I got very much involved with that. In all the years that I 

traveled, I never traveled so much as I did for the grape juice, 
because we had brokers all over the country, and I'd go to see the 
brokers. I'd go to Chicago to the National Canners Convention. 
That's the biggest convention held in the United States. It's always 
in Chicago. 

Teiser: You did can 

Cella: And then we got into canning, a little six-ounce can. 

Teiser: How did that ? 

Cella: That didn't do as well as the glass, but we really didn't put too 
much effort behind it. I think if we had stayed with it, we could 
have all built up something because today, cans are a very popular 
item, and it could have been at that time too. In fact we even 
canned some wine at that time. Not in the small can, in the ten- 
ounce can. 

I see you have Ohanesian here [on the interview outline] . 
That's Aram Ohanesian. He was our chemist. My father hired him. 
He was a food technologist out of the University of California. Very 
good man. He's retired now. 






The Sale of Wineries and Wines to United Vintners 



Cella: J.B. [Cella] died in 1959, and a year later my father died. My uncle 
died on April 19th and my father on April 9th. 

Teiser: Were their deaths entirely unexpected? 

Cella: No, both had been ill. My father's was unexpected to the extent that 
he wasn't bedridden and he wasn't going down slowly. He had an 
operation and was relatively well. I got a call from my mother. My 
father had just died. 

Teiser: Were you somewhat prepared for their deaths in a business sense? 

Cella: Oh, yes. My uncle had died the year before so my father and I had 

gone through a lot of preparation and anticipation, and how the business 
was going, what we were going to do. In fact we were already into 
discussions with Louis Petri about merging with them. We were nowhere 
near close to culminating it when my father died, but I knew how my 
father had felt about it and I was involved with the discussions, as 
was my cousin, Ebe. 



45 



Cella: So after he died, I became president and Ebe became executive vice- 
president. She was not going to the office every day or anything 
like that, but she was very active in it and was a great help to me. 
I was running the company; all aspects of it. The vineyards, 
everything. Then finally, she and I and Louis Petri got together and 
we did sell them the winery and the wines and our labels, in 1961. 
We kept Cella Vineyards. The corporation stayed intact. We just 
sold those assets: the winery, bricks and mortar, the inventory. 
And we kept the vineyard. We kept that as a separate operation, and 
we signed our grapes into Allied Grape Growers, a cooperative. We 
sold the wineries and the inventory to United Vintners. United 
Vintners was a separate corporation. 

Teiser: You already had part ownership in United Vintners before you sold 
to them? 

Cella: [indicates yes] 
Teiser: When did that start? 

Cella: That was an offshoot of the Petri Wine Company and the Petri Cigar 

Company. When Louis Petri formed Allied Grape Growers as a separate 
cooperative, he then created this United Vintners that owned Italian 
Swiss Colony, Mission Bell, and Petri. And we as part owners of the 
Petri deal became part owners of the United Vintners deal. And that's 
how we were part of that. 



Teiser: So then 

Cella: Well, we sold the assets except the vineyards. I wanted to keep Napa 
Wine Company out. I was thinking of using that as the base for the 
family again. But Louis was insistent that one of the things is that 
"we buy everything and that you come with the company." So that is 
how that happened. I stayed in Fresno maybe a year, and then I finally 
got to San Francisco and worked for United Vintners. 

Teiser: And when you finished what did you own? 

Cella: The vineyards. The grapes. We didn't sell the land. We didn't sell 
our vineyards. We kept that. 

Teiser: You just became members of Allied Grape Growers? 

Cella: Just like Joe Blow who owns twenty acres of grapes and was a member of 
Allied. We had a couple of thousand acres and we were a member of 
Allied, as a grower. It was a family corporation, the Cella Vineyards. 
We kept that corporation intact and sold those other assets. 



46 



Teiser: You remained as president of Cella Vineyards? 

Cella: Yes, remained until we eventually sold all the land and so forth 
and then we dissolved the company.* 

Teiser: And then did Mrs. Turner continue as an executive? 
Cella: Yes, she and I continued, the same we had before. 






*See pages 50 and 65-66. 



47 






III CORPORATE CHANGES SINCE 1961 



John B. Cella II, Vice President, United Vintners, 1962-1969 



Teiser: Mr. Petri announced in 1962 that you were to be appointed vice- 
president in charge of operations at United Vintners. What were your 
duties then? 

Cella: I was in charge of overseeing the operations of all the wineries. I 

used to go to all the wineries that United Vintners had which included 
the big Fresno winery that they had by the airport, the Escalon winery 
which was the old Petri winery, the two wineries in Lodi, the Asti 
[Italian Swiss Colony] winery. And eventually when we bought 
Inglenook that included Inglenook. 

Teiser: You didn't continue in sales at that time? 

Cella: I did that also. I did the bulk operations, and the sales in the bulk. 
In fact, one of the things that Louis and I did when we sold the 
company to United was that he wanted to take a trip with me to meet 
our key eastern buyers to assure them that I was still going to handle 
it, and we were still going to provide the wines that they had been 
buying before. So, we did do that. 

I did not continue the overseeing of any of the case goods, 
branded goods, any of the Parma, Bravo or the Betsy Ross grape juice. 
Our sales people in brands, they did that. Our brand managers did 
that. But I continued with the bulk. 

Teiser: I see why he wanted you in the organization. 
[Interview 3: February 11, 1986] 

Teiser: Let me put on the tape the fact that you have just read over an article 
that appeared in the August 1983 Wines and Vines about United Vintners 
and Allied. 

Cella: This is written after Louis Petri died. 



A7a 



Louis Petri conceived Allied 
Grape Growers and United Vintners 



RUTH TEISER 



ALLIED Grape Growers was the brain 
child of the late Louis A. Petri, perhaps the 
most innovative businessman ever to appear 
in the California wine industry. He con 
ceived the idea for this growers' co-operative 
in 1951. His family-owned Petri Wine Com 
pany had just grown from medium-size to 
big through the acquisition of several 
wineries including Mission Bell in Madera. 
It found itself crushing more than 100,000 
tons of grapes each autumn. 

As Louis Petri recalled in a 1969 inter 
view with the Regional Oral History Office, 
U.C. Berkeley*, "this was when we began 
to run out of money. It wasn't so much what 
we paid for the plants, but every ton of 
grapes that we bought had to be paid for, 
and then we had to age the wine. The turn 
over of our money was slow. It was because 
of this that we got the bright idea of form 
ing Allied Grape Growers. But that had a 
very peculiar start. It started very bad [for 
us], but ended up the greatest deal that we 
ever made." 

In 1949, Petri recalled, "I got a group of 
large Thompson Seedless growers in the 
Madera area together. There had always 
been a problem of getting enough Thomp 
son Seedless grapes at the beginning of the 
season, and getting them in fast enough so 
that you could make a stockpile of high- 
proof alcohol to have available to fortify 
wine grapes that came in later in the season. 



So to get people to give us the Thompson 
Seedless grapes, I made a three-year con 
tract on about 20,000 tons of grapes. We 
agreed to pay the grower on a 4-to-l for 
mula. That is, on a fresh basis one fourth 
of the price that they got for their raisins. 
Well, as it turned out, the raisin market got 
extremely hot during that period . . . The 
growers were really getting rich on us. So 
at the end of the second year of the deal, 
I proposed to the 4-to-l growers that they 
form Allied Grape Growers, a co-operative, 
and through a very complex formula we 
converted their contracts to Allied Grape 
Growers." Other growers signed up, and the 
initial sign-up was "for about 30,000-35,000 
tons." How it worked was that "the grower 
gave title to his grapes to Allied, who in turn 
gave us the grapes to make into wine . . . 
We paid Allied on a deferred basis over 18 
months." 

It was a profit-sharing plan. Part of the 
deal, however, was the purchase by Allied 
of Petri's two major wineries, in Escalon 
and Madera, which Petri continued to 
operate, making the wine and selling it 
under its labels. Money was withheld from 
the growers to pay for the plarg over a near 
ly seven-year period, and, as Louis Petri 
recalled, "It turned out great. They received 
enough money over market to buy the plans 
for free." 

In 1953 Petri bought Italian Swiss Col- 




Louis Petri (seated center) and members of Allied Grape Growers signing the papers for 
the sale of United Vintners to Allied in 1959. Standing are Tilden Genzoli, Walter Vin 
cent, and Buddy Iwata. Seated next to Petri is Robert Mclnturf , then and now president 
of Allied. The salef apparently continued to please Petri as much as it did initially, for 
he kept this picture hanging on his office wall. 



ony, about doubling the size of his wine- 
making operations, "and then I worked like 
hell to enlarge the co-op because we need 
ed more grapes." Allied then leased the two 
biggest Italian Swiss wineries, at Fresno and 
Lodi, from Petri, who made wine for 
Allied in them. 

Meanwhile Petri had created another 
organization, United Vinters, Inc., as a sub 
sidiary of the family wine business. United 
Vintners then, however, proceeded to 
swallow its parent and, under Louis Petri's 
leadership, it took over as operator of all the 
Allied wineries, which in 1953 crushed 
about 300,000 tons of grapes. 

By 1959 the growth of the business and 
a number of other factors (including such 
a predictable one as unpredictable weather) 
had, however, made the original profit- 
sharing plan increasingly difficult to figure 
out. Petri and Allied's representatives met 
at the Sun Dial Motel in Modesto that year 
to try to find a satisfactory formula. They 
struggled and struggled. Finally Petri said, 
according to his recollections, "You know, 
gentlemen, there's only one answer to all of 
this. Either we've got to buy out all of your 
vineyards, or you've got to buy out our com 
pany " (United Vintners). He was astonish 
ed at their response. 

"In unison, that executive committee 
said, 'How much?" " 

So Petri sold United to Allied for $24 
million, to be paid over a ten-year period. 
It was all paid before the eighth year, just 
shortly after Louis Petri's contract with 
Allied to manage United Vintners ran out. 
The sale included all of the Italian Swiss 
properties (among them the original winery 
and vineyards at Asti) , the Inglenook winery 
which Petri had bought in 1964, and the 
famous wine tanker the S.S. Angela Petri. 

United Vintners itself became a co 
operativea co-operative with one 
member, Allied Grape Growers, which in 
turn controlled all its assets so that it was 
in effect a subsidiary of Allied. 

Heublein, Inc., entered the picture 10 
years later. In 1969 it bought controlling in 
terest, 82 % , in United Vintners from Allied 
for about $33 million, and nine years after, 
the remaining 18% for $10 million more. 
The acquisition was a rare (possibly unique) 
instance of a private corporation buying a 
co-operative. The purchase included the 
properties Heublein has now announced it 
is selling back to Allied Grape Growers. 

In October 1980 the Federal Trade Com 
mission, which had challenged Heublein's 
purchase of United Vintners as a violation 
of the Clayton Anti-trust Act, dropped its 
charges and upheld Heublein's opinion that 
the acquisition had actually increased rather 
than decreased competition in the wine in 
dustry. That was just six months after the 
death of Louis A. Petri, who had not only 
conceived the original organizations but also 
helped put together the deal with Heublein. 

Louis A. Petri, The Petri Family in the 
Wine Industry. Quotations courtesy of The 
Bancroft Library. 

WINES & VINES 
August 1983 



48 



Teiser: Yes, he had died, and it was written at the time of the sale of 

Italian Swiss Colony back to Allied. Is it accurate so far as you 
know? 

Cella: Yes. 

Teiser: Then let me ask you about some of the things that connect with that. 
You became vice-president of United Vintners, as you explained last 
time, in 1961. In your autobiographical data sheet here, you have 
[reads] "commodity sales, control state sales, grower and industry 
relations." And those, I gather, were in addition to your being in 
charge of the actual manufacturing? 

Cella: Well, the manufacturing part of it while I was vice-president in 

charge of operations, there were other people more directly involved 
with each of the wineries. Of course each of them had a manager. 
And then we had our production vice-president, who oversaw the total 
wine production more directly than I did. He was mostly responsible 
and mostly reported to me on the operations, and then we jointly 
would be involved with the operations. But these other things were 
in addition to that, so you can see that I was rather busy, and I 
was away quite a bit of the time. 

Teiser: Commodity sales. What is the definition of that? 

Cella: Well, it's a nice way of just saying bulk products. In other words, 
anything that was not sold under a brand or in case goods, anything 
that was sold in barrels, tank cars, tank trucks, whether it was wine, 
whether it was brandy, whether it was grape concentrate or even grape 
juice. 

Teiser: What about grower and industry relations? 



Cella: I was quite active in the Wine Institute. In fact, when Heublein 

resigned from the Wine Institute, I was first vice-president and would 
have, next year, become chairman of the board of the Wine Institute. 
Which I never did because Heublein resigned and took United Vintners 
out of the Wine Institute. So my industry relations were through the 
Wine Institute, through the committee which dealt with trade barriers. 
It also dealt with visits to Sacramento, seeing various legislators 
re various bills that pertained to the wine industry. 

In the control states, that related to sales to the control 
states. That was the only branded goods that I was involved with. 
Then I was called in as our representative to get the listings and to 
do what was necessary to sell, whether advertising, marketing, so 
forth. 






49 



Cella: When anything came up in these control states politically, that meant 
going into those states to try to express our view and working through 
the NABCA which was the National Alcot. 'lie Beverage Control 
Association. All the control states belonged to that association. 

Teiser: When you sell to a control state you have to sell to a state board 
or something of the sort? 

Cella: [indicates yes] You have a state board who serves as the buyer 

within that state. And of course you can only sell if they approve 
and give you a listing for whatever items you're attempting to sell 
to them. 

Teiser: Is it harder to sell to a control state than to anyplace else? 

Cella: It's an entirely different type of sale. While they're the buyer 
and you can look at them as really being the wholesaler for their 
state they're not concerned really whether your product sells or 
doesn't sell. You have first to overcome whatever objections that 
they may have for even giving you a listing and buying anything. 
They judge that on various things. If an item is going very well in 
the open states, then they want it in their state. Or, one of their 
objections mostly is that they've got so many items they don't need 
another item. Why should they buy XYZ brand of burgundy or port when 
they've got five other ones in the state already? A great deal of 
it is dependent on what you think you can do and convince them that 
you can do so much business in that state, whether through advertising 
or marketing. Of course, you didn't have the marketing, even at that 
time, that you do in the open states. Your types of advertising can 
be limited. 

Teiser: Limited by the state? 
Cella: Yes. 

Your relations in calling on the state stores is entirely 
different. The operators of the state stores, the store managers, 
have nothing to say about what they have and what they sell. They're 
just there with all the items on the wall, and you as the consumer 
walk in there and say you want such-and-such, and he takes it off the 
shelf and gives it to you. Unlike in an open state where you can have 

displays and have stacks and point-of-sale pieces. 



Today, of course, even the control states are getting more and 
more into doing that, and they do do that now. 

Teiser: Is there an advantage selling to a control state in that you just have 
to make one big sale? 



50 



Cella: Well, that advantage once you've got the listing and once you've got 
the sale, then it's up to you how much you can put into that state, 
and it depends really upon the way it's advertised more than anything 
else as to how that item will move. It's like having a captive 
business in a sense, unlike in the open states. 

Of course this is a big issue that's been going on since 
Repeal control states versus open states. There are arguments on 
both sides. We know this, that when control states have gone open, 
or partly open like there are states now, for instance, Washington 
is an example, which was totally closed now you have Washington with 
open portions and still going through state stores for the same item. 
We have seen, in a state like that and other states who have done 
that, where wine sales have increased dramatically. The industry, I 
would say, generally believes that they can do more to increase sales 
of wine in the open states. 

The argument that is often put up on the other side is that 
through the control state, they're able to more control, if I can use 
that word, the sale of the wine to the betterment of alcohol flowing 
within that state. Yet it's readily available in the controlled states, 
so I don't know how that really does affect, let's say, temperance 
in the controlled states. I don't know that there's more temperance in the 
controlled state than there is in an open state. 

Teiser: Is Oregon still controlled? 

Cella: Oregon is controlled for spirits but it's not for wine. 

Teiser: Well, thank you for discussing that. 



Allied Grape Growers and United Vintners 



Teiser: I have here a January 1961 press release from Allied Grape Growers. 

Cella: That's when we sold our company to Allied. We sold Cella Vineyards 
to Allied in 1961. 

Teiser: Yes, that would have been just when you joined it. And I wondered if 
there are a lot of people listed here that we don't really have much 
data on. I wondered if I could ask you if you could comment upon some 
of them. Robert C. Mclnturf do you remember him from then? 

Cella: Oh sure. He was the chairman of the board of Allied and still is 
chairman of the board of Allied. 



51 



Teiser: 



Cellar 



Teiser: 
Cellar 

Teiser: 
Cellar 



Teiser: 
Cellar 

Teiser: 
Cellar 



He was president and director, it says, in January 1961. 
has had a long career. 



He certainly 



My recollection is that he came from Indiana, was stationed out 
during World War II in the Air Force. I'm not too sure where it was, 
whether it was Castle Field or some other airfield near Fresno. There 
was an Air Force base near Fresno. My recollection of what I can 
remember is that he had met a young lady, Rosalie, from the west side 
of Fresno whose father was a farmer, and my recollection was that his 
name was Hanson. He was quite a prominent farmer, I think he was 
very active in Sun-Maid. I say farmer; he was a grape grower. And 
I don't know what else he grew. And Bob, he married this young lady 
and remained here and became active in the activities of the family 
and was one of the people that Louis Petri had contacted in the 
formation of Allied. 

So he was one of the original people to join. Bob was not the 
first chairman of Allied.* There was another gentleman whose name 
escapes me for the moment . 

[phone rings] 



You said that he wasn't the first chairman. 









No, he wasn't. I think he was the second and he's been the only one 
since then. 

Must be a good businessman:. 






Well, he's a good businessman and he's also, and I use this in the 
best sense, a good politician. You know when you're a head of an 
organization with literally 1,500 bosses because that's what a 
cooperative is, every grower is your boss, it's the same as the 
manager of a trade association you've got to have some talent to 
deal with people. 

Tilden E. Genzoli 

He was a vice-president at that time and remained a vice-president 
for many, many years. He's in that picture there in that Wines and 
Vines, as is Mclnturf . 

How do you pronounce his name? 
Tilden "Jen-zoli." 



*He was first elected chairman in 1956. 



52 



Teiser: He was a grower? 

Cella: He's a grower. Everybody in Allied were growers except for the two 
or three members of the board who were representatives of United 
Vintners . 

Teiser: Clarence Holland. 

Cella: Clarence Holland was another grower. Also one of the original large 
growers involved from the Madera area. 

Teiser: And Buddy Iwata. 

Cella: Buddy Iwata. He's in this picture. He was a secretary or the 
treasurer of Allied, I've forgotten which one. I think it was 
secretary of Allied. 

Teiser: Secretary and director, it says here. 

Cella: He represented a cooperative in the Livingston area. And he was a 
member for many, many years, even up until four or five years ago. 
He's not a director now, as far as I know; he's still a member 
though. Or the organization is still a member. 

Teiser: Among the then directors-at-large were Louis Petri and L.N. Bianchini. 
Cella: Those were the two directors from United Vintners. 
Teiser: Can you comment upon Mr. Bianchini? 

Cella: Bianchini is Louis Petri 's first cousin. Louis' father and Bianchini 's 
mother were brother and sister. And Bianchini 's still living. He 
was really the operational man for Louis Petri, particularly during 
this time of getting growers to sign. He was the man who was out in 
the field all the time, signing up grapes every year when they used 
to buy the grapes and then sign them up into Allied. And he was in 
charge of their operation of the old Petri winery in Escalon. Alba 
owned the place at one time. 

Teiser: The general manager was Paul H. Huber. 

Cella: Huber, that was right. He was a hired employee to run the organization, 
as you would have, for instance, in a trade association. In other 
words, Bob Mclnturf did not do the day-to-day work of Allied. He had 
his own vineyards and so forth, he was the chief officer, but the day- 
to-day running of the organization was Huber at that time. 

Teiser: These are the officers of United Vintners: Mclnturf, Petri, Mortara, 
and F.W. Schumacher. I remember meeting Benny Mortara. 



53 



Cella: He's still around and he's still relatively well, and I see him from 
time to time. 



Teiser: What was his position? 

Cella: Well, he goes back to the old Petri Cigar Company. He was one of 
their first clerks in their office with Louis' father, Angelo. He 
was an accountant. He was with the company all the time and grew 
with the company and remained Louis' right-hand financial man. 

Frank Schumacher was an employee hired as an accountant. He was 
more technically an accountant than Benny was. Benny did more of the 
corporate affairs, and corporate things, while Frank ran the office, 
the accounting department. And with Allied, of course, then he was 
very much involved with the accountability between the companies. 
Keeping records and all the necessary data. 

Teiser: Then the directors of United and Allied were almost the same. 

Cella: They were the same. They would have a meeting and when that meeting 
was over, the same people stayed right there for the next meeting for 
the other board. 

I later became a member; when Cella Vineyards joined we were the 
largest grower. 

Teiser: In January 1961 United Vintners had the same ones except B.C. Solari. 

Cella: Okay, well, you see United Vintners, which was the operating company, 
had separate officers. In other words, we had the sales managers, we 
had the other regional vice-presidents and those types of people. And 
Solari would have been on that. 

Teiser: We had hoped to interview Mr. Solari, but he was not well and then 
died. I'm sorry that we were not able to. Can you speak a little 
about him? 

Cella: I knew Larry, or I knew of him, but I also knew him before I joined 

the company, because he was very active in the wine business in sales. 
He was not active in the early sixties as far as industry was concerned. 
Prior to coming to United Vintners he was with Guild Wineries, the 
company I'm with now. And he was also with California Wine Association. 
The old CWA. 

Then I think he came with Italian Swiss Colony. When Louis bought 
Italian Swiss Colony, that's how Larry came there. He eventually 
became national sales manager in charge of all the sales of United 
Vintners, and remained in that position 



54 



Teiser: He had joined Italian Swiss Colony under National Distillers? 

Cella: National Distillers, right. And then came when Louis Petri bought it. 
I think he remained in that position until Louis retired, and then he 
became president. And then chief executive officer of United Vintners. 

Teiser: Then he went to Heublein? 

Cella: And then, it was under his direction he was president and I was 
vice-president that he and I and Frank Schumacher went back to 
Heublein and initiated talks with Heublein. And then continued those 
talks. That started in the summer of 1968. We had been approached 
by Lou [Louis R.] Gomberg. 

Teiser: In behalf of Heublein? 

Cella: [indicates yes] 

Teiser: Heublein had gone to him to ask you? 

Cella: To look for a winery, I guess, in California. 

Teiser: And so he went to you? 

Cella: [indicates yes] He went to Larry Solari. 

Teiser: It only took one year of talks? 

Cella: That's enough. 

Teiser: So that's how it was initiated.* 

Cella: I think maybe it was started in the spring or early summer. That's 
about all I know about Larry, other than the fact that he and Louis 
one time had vineyards up in Napa together, and Louis sold his 
interest to Larry. After that, Larry stayed on for a number of years, 
three or four years, and then Heublein started to bring in other people 
to replace Larry when he was going to retire. He had an employment 
contract and when that contract expired, he left. 

#1 

Cella: Larry Solari was a grape grower and he used to deliver his grapes to 
Allied and Allied into United Vintners. After his retirement, then 
he devoted himself to his own vineyards and continued to deliver his 



*For further discussion of the sale to Heublein, see pages 58-61 
and Appendix by Louis R. Gomberg. 



55 



Cella: grapes. And then he became ill after a number of years and, as you 
know, he has since passed away.* 

Teiser: Were the vineyards extensive? 

Cella: Well, for Napa they were. They were, I believe, 700 acres, which is 
a pretty big acreage in Napa. Total acreage, I really don't know 
what it was. 

Teiser: He continued after Mr. Petri's death to operate the vineyards? 

Cella: Oh yes, and his wife, as far as I know, still owns the vineyards, or 
the family still owns the vineyards, and his wife still lives in 
the house where they were living, on the ranch. 

Teiser: James McManus was manager of the Marine Division. 

Cella: Well, if you recall, Louis did something which was unheard of, and that 
is he had this ship put together to carry wine. He named it the 
S.S. Angelo Petri. And he had a winery in New Jersey, in Newark; 
and another bottling and unloading facility in Houston. That ship 
used to go from Stockton, where we built some tanks there for storing 
the wine the ship would come in, load up, go down through the canal 
to Houston, unload part there, and then go on to Newark and finish the 
unloading over there. 

From Houston the wine used to go up on barges up to Chicago, where 
we had a bottling winery. This had a tremendous effect in reducing 
freight rates by the railroads, because there was competition.** 
McManus was the man that Louis had hired to run that one ship in this 
Marine Division. But you know it was a very technical operation that 
nobody else knew anything about . Jim had that background . And I 
really can't tell you what his background was, but I know he had a 
marine background. Whether it was in parts, shipyards, or some 
shipping company, I really don't know. He has since passed away too.*** 

Teiser: Has he? 

Cella: Oh, you're thinking of the one that was on the Brandy Advisory Board, 
J im McManus . 



*He died April 5, 1984. 
**See also Petri, op cit. 
***0n November 22, 1972. 






56 



Teiser: 
Cellar 
Teiser: 
Cellar 



That's another person? 

That's another person. Two different people. No relation, either. 

In charge of production at this time was Robert D. Rossi, Jr. 

Yes, Bob was the production man. He succeeded Bianchini. Bob was 
the one who worked with me, and Bob has a long background in the wine 
industry also, going back to when he was a young man, when he got out 
of the service. He was in Fresno for a while. He worked for Italian 
Swiss Colony, at the Tarpey Winery by the airport there. And from 
there came up to San Francisco. 

He's a San Francisco-born person. His family has been in San 
Francisco for generations and is a very prominent wine family. 

Teiserr Well, that exhausts my list here of people mentioned. 

Let me take you back to the actual formation of Allied in 1951, 
which Mr. Petri did describe in his interview, dramatically. You knew 
him then, of course. 

Cellar Oh yes. Louis's parents and my father and uncle were long-time friends 
going back to the days of prohibition. While my uncle was out here, 
my father I think I told you lived in New York City. And I can 
recall, as a young boy, when the Petris would be coming back or going 
on a trip to Italy, they would stop and we would see them for a while. 
And Louis eventually met my cousin Flori, who was my uncle's daughter, 
and they were married, if I can remember, in 1935. I was in the 
wedding party. 

But our family, in the 1920s, had bought stock in the Petri Cigar 
Company and we were a shareholder of the Petri Cigar Company. Oh, I've 
forgotten what the percentage was, 27%, 24, 25. And, as these things 
developed, including the formation of United Vintners, we all, as 
individual stockholders, also received a part of the sale to Allied, 
and all received our payments, same as the Petris did and the other 
members of that corporation. People like Bianchini, they were stock 
holders, and there were some old friends that were still stockholders. 
But Louis and his family, of course, were the major ones. 

Teiserr That was when United Vintners was sold to Allied in 1959? 

Cellar [indicates yes] But we were all part of that corporation well before 
that. Going back into Prohibition days. 



Teiserr Do you remember anything about the formation of Allied in 1951? 



57 



Cella: I really don't you see, I was then not part of that operating group. 
I was with our own family wineries, with Cella Vineyards. So anything 
that I heard, or knew of, was the same thing in fact as anybody else 
would have heard, I mean the conversations that the family had. together 
about what was going on. But it came about at a time when the wine 
industry was in such terrible condition that the surplus pf grapes 
you'd go out and buy grapes and no matter what you had paid for them 
you never knew whether you were going to still be able to sell the 
wine at a price that you could recover your costs. 

And Louis one time said, "Well, look, if I'm going to have to do 
this every year, I'm going to try to find another way to do it." And 
the other way to do it was to say, "Okay, you growers, you want me to 
crush your grapes, you bring the grapes in and I'll sell them for you 
and then we'll share the profit." That was really what he had in the 
back of his mind. And it developed that way. And then finally, I 
think some place along the way even in that [Wines and Vines] article 
he talks about, how he used to argue every year about what the 
percentage should be. That's when he said, "Okay, you buy me out 
then." And they said, "Okay," and they did. And it turned out to be 
a very good deal. 

But other than that, I was not involved with signing up growers 
or doing anything. I signed my papers, in agreement to it [laughs] 
like the other stockholders did. But that's about the most I can 
tell you. 

Teiser: In the 1959 sale of United, were you consulted about that? 

Cella: Yes. My uncle died in 1959. But this was going on for some time 
before that. Yes, we were involved. We were consulted. We had 
talked about it, very much so. In fact, during that period of time 
we even had conversations with Louis as to whether Cella Vineyards 
would be included. If we could put Cella Vineyards into United 
Vintners then we could make that sale at one time. We thought it best 
not to inject another element into it, so we forgot about it. Then my 
uncle died. And then in 1960 my father died. So, my cousin Ebe and 
I followed up with Louis and eventually made it in 1961. 

Teiser: I'm recalling that when I interviewed Louis Petri, his secretary 
and I can't think of her name 

Cella: lola. And she was with Louis for many years. 

Teiser: I even knew her last name. Guaraldi. She used to call him "Lewis," 

pronounced his name that way. You and everyone else called him "Louie." 

Cella: [indicates yes] She always called him "Lewis." 



58 



Teiser: I wondered if other people in the family had. 

Cellar His mother did. 

Teiser: lola was very nice. 

Cellar Oh yes, she was absolutely just a wonderful person for him to have. 



The Sale of United Vintners to Heublein, 1969 and 1978 



Teiser: 



Cellar 



Then the sale to Heublein in 1969*: 
sell? Why were they willing to? 



why did United Vintners want to 



Teiser: 
Cellar 

Teiser: 
Cellar 



Why? Well, here again, you may recall that at that period of time 
we were just about getting to the point in the industry where table 
wines were becoming more and more acceptable. They still were not 
in the majority of the volume sold. It still was dessert wines. But 
it was beginning to take a great deal of capital, a great deal of 
financing. And being a cooperative, it's a lot more difficult than 
it is being an independent corporation. 

Why was it taking more capital? 

To convert these wineries over from the dessert wine producing wineries 
to the necessary equipment, tanks, etc. 

It takes more tanks? 

Oh, more tanks, absolutely. It's twice as much if you're going to 
keep the same volume of grapes. You know, we improved the method of 
fermentation, too, refrigeration, storage, stainless steel. Of 
course, stainless steel probably would have come about even if we had 
stayed with dessert, but not as much. Fine wood tanks. Casks. You 
start going into various small oak casks. These wineries were 
beginning to get to a point of really having to be refinanced. 

I don't think we would have sold to anybody else except Heublein 
at that time. Here was an organization who had a unique reputation; 
they were selling primarily spirits, but they were also selling 
quality, premium type of products, including Smirnoff Vodka. They 
were the sole importers, and they still are, of Lancers. And Lancers, 
at that time, was the number one imported wine. 



*See page 54. 






59 



Cella: They had the means, they had the ways of marketing that we all felt, 
here's an opportunity to really latch onto a company that has the 
expertise and the money to give us a push in the marketing of wines 
that we weren't able to generate. And it was almost as simple a 
thing as that. But it had to be the right one with which we would 
have done it. 

There were a couple of other companies that had looked at us, 
not associated with the wine business or the distillers of spirits 
business. You know, a separate kind of company, like an R.J. 
Reynolds today, let's say. It wasn't R.J. Reynolds, but I mean, we 
had been approached by others also. 

But this was something unique and the growers could see that 
what they had and what they sold to us as management and to the 
growers was that they were people-oriented and their concern was 
with people. And to sell this we had to sell to the growers. The 
growers were not totally receptive. They had meetings up and down 
the state, different district meetings. People from Heublein as well 
as from United Vintners would go there and make a presentation to show 
what they were attempting to do. And it took the efforts of a lot of 
people to finally approve it. 

Teiser: At Heublein was there any one person who was leading? 

Cella: Well, there were a number of people. One was Mr. Stuart Watson, who 
eventually became chairman of the board of Heublein. There was a man 
by the name of Ed Kelly; he was executive v.p. at that time. There 
was a man by the name of Ed Hennessy. He was the treasurer at that 
time. There was a man by the name of Casper who was the attorney at 
that time. Of course there was Mr. [John G.] Martin himself, who was 
I shouldn't say the founder of Heublein because it goes back even 
before his generation but his family was a Heublein. I don't recall 
if it was his mother, or who it was. He was still very active with 
the company at that time. He was chairman of the board. There again, 
while it was a public corporation, he ran the company, and if he said 
yes, it was yes; if he said no, it was no. He came out a number of 
times on behalf of Heublein and we were all very impressed with him. 

Teiser: When the three of you went east to talk, whom did you talk to? 

Cella: Oh, there's one other man. Ralph Hart. He was very, very important 
in this. He was the president at that time, if I recall rightly. 
Mr. Martin was the chairman, and then Stuart Watson and Kelly were 
vice-presidents . 

Teiser: So they all concurred that it was a good idea? 



60 



Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 



Cella: 



Teiser: 



Cella: 



Oh yes, they were sold on it more than we. We in management, we were 
sold pretty early in negotiations. Allied took a -considerable amount 
of time, particularly because they weren't going to do it unless they 
had a hundred percent approval on the part of the board. And the 
first couple of times, two or three of them just voted no. It took 
some doing to convince them to go along with it. 



Did Louis Petri get in on ? 

He was being consulted on it. I particularly worked with Louis to 
convince him to do this. Because at first he wasn't going to do it. 
One of the biggest deliverers of grapes was Grape Factors. Grape 
Factors was another company owned by the family. And what Grape 
Factors did was buy grapes and then deliver them to Allied as a non- 
voting member. They were not growers. 

The Petri family? 

The Grape Factors was a corporation set up by Louis and our family. 
All the people who owned stock in the original United Vintners and 
the original Petri all became stockholders in this company. It was 
created to buy grapes to deliver to Allied. In certain years they 
were bigger than Cella Vineyards, much bigger in fact, delivering the 
amount of grapes that they did. 

They didn't grow grapes, they just bought and sold? 

They just bought the grapes--got the money and so forth and they 
waited for their payment the same as the grower, and they participated 
in the profit. But they were not a voting member. And they always 
needed to have this; otherwise Louis would have pulled out. As far as 
the grapes are concerned, he probably would have done some other things 
also. So, yes, he was consulted, and he was eventually in favor of 
it and approved of it. In fact, came to the board and told us so. 

Had Louis Gomberg been active in anyone else's behalf, in any of the 
other offers that you had had? 

Not that I'm aware of, but then, I don't know. He probably, if he did 

have anything else, would have gone to Larry [Solari] . [For Louis R. 

Gomberg 's recollection of how the sale of United Vintners to Heublein 
came about, see Appendix.] 



So in 1969, Heublein bought 82% of the stock of United, 
didn't buy all of it then? 



How come they 



Because Allied wouldn't go for selling everything. They wanted to have 
some input in the operation of the company and it was such a complicated 
thing, Ruth. I think that was really the demise of the sale eventually, 



*But see page 65. 



61 



Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 



because it was always a business that I shouldn't say always, the 
first year or so everything was fine but eventually it became one 
of these things where when you're a minority stockholder you just 
don't have the voice that you think you do. And they felt it, I 
guess, right away. 

After all, Heublein paid a fair price for it, a good price, and 
they were running the company. But it was such a complicated formula 
and everything else, and conditions that I couldn't even go into. 
But they would not have sold unless they were able to keep that 
[18 percent] . 

Well, did Heublein go ahead and run the company well? 

Well, I think so. Of course, it's easy to look back now and to say 
that certain things were done which perhaps were not what I would 
have done, but that's again an individual point of view. They left 
the company intact, let's say, when they bought it. At least initially 
they did. Later on they made changes regarding people particularly 
in the sales and marketing end. They really weren't too concerned 
about the operations, the production end of it. But I'd rather not 
make a judgement as to whether they operated well or not. I guess 
maybe the answer is what happened to the company and how it did end 
up. 

What made everybody agree to sell the remaing 18 percent in 1978? 

Oh, that was a result of the court decision. And it was also part of 
the agreement in the contract where when they sold they would have to 
sell at a certain formula. But that case, of course, is voluminous. 

That was the anti-trust case? 

Yes. Well, there were two things: there was the anti-trust case which 
was against Heublein, and then there was Allied 's case against Heublein 
and United Vintners. The court ruling was that, first, Allied had to 
sell now I'm going by memory so if you want to really get the techni 
cal end of it, there's a volume of this available and I can get for 
you but basically my recollection is first of all, they ruled that 
they had to sell their 18 percent and the other thing was that under 
the agreement that had been made, any and all grapes had to come from 
Allied. United Vintners could not go out and buy any grapes. And they 
could not go out and buy wine in place of grapes unless grapes were not 
available. So, under the ruling of the court, they said no, United 
Vintners is to go out and buy grapes from an outside source; Allied 
would not be the sole source of the grapes. 



62 



Cella: That suit, which Allied brought against United Vintners, really 

divested them from anything in the company. And this happened just 
before the [crushing] season coming up. It would be around 1980, '79. 
And here we were, coming into season, no agreement, no contract with 
Allied. And here they were with a couple of hundred thousand tons of 
grapes and no place to deliver them. So we worked night and day to 
finally work out an agreement with them to deliver the grapes. 
Another agreement. So it was a terrible messed-up thing that really 
tore things asunder between people, between companies, something that 
unfortunately happened that shouldn't have happened. It could have 
been avoided. 

Teiser: Was it to the detriment then of the whole operation? 
Cella: I think so; yes. 



Heublein's Sale of Major California Properties, 1983 



Teiser: Do you think that that was a prelude to the sale of some of Heublein's 
properties in 1983? 

Cella: Well, no, I don't think it was a prelude to it. I think it was a 

prelude to Heublein's wish and desire to get out of the wine business, 
or that part of the wine business. Knowing Allied wanted always to 
be back in the wine business and wanted to turn back the clock as if 
nothing had ever happened gave them an opportunity to sell to them. 
And here we are! Welcome home. So through Heublein's financing, 
through Allied 's financing, and through the growers' financing, all 
of which put up money, this sale is possible. And Heublein sold 
basically everything in the way of brands other than Inglenook, and 
other brands I've forgotten which ones. Beaulieu was not involved 
because it never was involved with United Vintners. Heublein had 
always kept that separate, so that was never an involvement at all as 
far as BV is concerned. 

But they sold the wineries with the exception of the wineries in 
Napa because that was part of Inglenook. They sold the Reedley winery, 
which had been a part of our family winery. But Heublein kept Madera. 
They sold the Escalon, the Fresno winery. Well, I think the Fresno 
winery Heublein may have already sold. 



Teiser: So they sold the Fresno winery 

Cella: That was the old Tarpey plant, one of the big Italian Swiss Colony 

wineries. They sold that, or donated it to some pension fund rather 
than try to operate it any more. They kept the Madera winery. They 



63 



Cella: sold the Escalon winery, the old Petri winery, they sold the Lodi 
winery, they sold the Asti winery. I- say sold, they sold it to 
Allied. So Allied now owns those wineries. 

Teiser: Had Heublein's focus meanwhile changed? 

Cella: Oh, I don't think so, no, no. 1 just think that they saw it as a 
part of the business that was not profitable enough, and that they 
poured literally millions and millions of dollars into this business, 
with no results. So they just wanted out, and they got out. But 
their focus remained the same. They're a leading marketer of spirits 
and top brands. They had acquired Ortega Foods, they had acquired 
Kentucky Fried Chicken, they had acquired a Mexican chain of restaur 
ants in the midwest, and they have A-l Sauce. And they had gotten 
into Brazil and they've had difficulties there, but primarily because 
of the inflation rate. The Brazilian economy is so inflated that 
you just can't keep up with it. But they have great imports; they 
still have Lancers, they have a good line of Italian wines, French 
wines and German. They have Harvey's Bristol Cream. 

And then, of course, eventually Heublein sold out to R.J. 
Reynolds. And they are now owned by R.J. Reynolds. 

Teiser: You continued with Heublein then, until 1981. How did you happen 
to decide to change? 

Cella: I didn't decide to change. I was asked to take an early retirement. 

I had no choice as to whether I should or shouldn't. I had no thoughts 
or retiring. I had certainly thought I was less than 65 at that time, 
about a year-and-a-half to go, if I recall and I certainly thought 
that I would finish out my career with the company. And had looked 
forward to retirement at that time. Then this happened and they 
advised me that they wanted me to leave. I, of course, was concerned. 
More than a little upset. 

Bob [Robert M.] Ivie was president of the Guild [Wineries and 
Distilleries], and had worked for me at one time at United Vintners. 
He was the specialist in distribution and transportation, and we had 
sent him to Newark to try to straighten out our operation there. 
Anyway, he had heard about it and we had lunch one day, and he told me 
he'd like me to come with him, and I went with them. I'm past 65 now, 
but the company did not request that I take a retirement and I'm happy 
doing what I'm doing, and enjoying my work. It's one of the nice things 
that I was fortunate to end up this way, rather than just end up the 
career with a little bitterness in the leaving.* 



*See also pages 66-68. 



64 



Teiser: I gather that Heublein was winding down here, and that's why they 
decided that your services 

Cella: Oh yes. I was not the only individual let go at that time either. 
This was a general dismissal of quite a number of people. 

Teiser: Why had they earlier quit the Wine Institute? 

Cella: Ruth, there's certain things I'd rather not say. One of the reasons 
was that the company was really not profitable for a number of years 
and they were paying dues that amounted to over a half a million 
dollars in dues. When a company is not too profitable, you start to 
look around as to where you can make some savings and this was one of 
the things that they looked at. During that time, if I recall, there 
were maybe two or three other wineries that also resigned. Business 
was not that good. That was one of the reasons. 

These larger companies, they had a big, big staff of people there 
in all phases of the operation. In the operation as far as production 
is concerned, in the operation as far as the office is concerned, in 
almost any field you could think of. 

Teiser: If the whole thing had gone in a quite different direction, if Heublein 
hadn't bought United, would it have survived, do you think? 

Cella: I think so. I think so. But, you know, those are "if" kinds of 

questions. If I hadn't done this and if I hadn't done that. If our 
family had not sold our company, would we have been able to survive, 
would we be as big as so-and-so? It's difficult to even imagine. I 
think that this company would have survived. I think that it would 
have survived because there were enough people and talent involved who 
really knew the wine business and I think could have adapted. Maybe 
not as quickly, but some way or another, I feel that yes, the company 
could have survived. 



The Sale of Cella Vineyards, 1961 



Teiser: I want to ask you about the operation of Cella Vineyards then, from 
1961 to the time it was liquidated. 

Cella: Well, the winery was sold in 1961. The corporation, Cella Vineyards, 

remained intact, operating the vineyards. And that I can't even think 
of the year now when it was 

Teiser: I think 1971. 
Cella: That's right. 



65 



Teiser: That was the last year you were president. 

Cellar That was it. And during that time, we operated the company solely as 
the owner of these vineyards, still delivering to Allied. And as we 
had the opportunities we sold the vineyards too. And this was a 
family judgement; we thought that was a better thing to do than to 
stay in the grape business. 

Teiser: Did you have vineyards all over, or ? 

Cellar We had vineyards primarily in the Fresno area, by Reedley, right 

around the winery area, where the winery was. We had vineyards at 
Livingston; we had vineyards at Snelling, those in the Central Valley. 
Snelling is east of Merced and Livingston is just by Modesto. And 
we operated a vineyard that Grape Factors had up in Ukiah. 

Grape Factors did have that vineyard up there, but it was a 
small part of the grapes that they delivered. So, all in all, at 
that time, there were maybe two thousand acres. In those days, it 
was a pretty good size operation. Today, of course, you hear five 
and ten thousand acre vineyards. It's all relative. The same thing 
when we sold Roma, the biggest in the country. It's insignificant 
today in size. 

Teiser: When you sold the vineyards did you sell them all together? 
Cellar No, no, no. We sold Livingston first, sold the Snelling secondly. 
Teiser: Whom did the Livingston ? 

Cellar The Livingston went to the Pirrone family. I don't know if you know 
them. I don't know that they still own it. The Snelling ranch we 
sold to a man by the name of Hollis Roberts who was a very big, big 
farmer in the Central Valley, all below Fresno, near McFarland and 
that area. He was in almonds, cotton, everything, and he bought this 
vineyard . 

Then we sold part of the Reedley property it was really separated 
from the main vineyard to a family in Fresno by the name of Quinn. 
They were the people who had Budd and Quinn Tractors. You may have 
heard of them. And then we sold the main property to a shipper in 

Reedley . 

, 

We did sell some of the land right around the winery to United 
Vintners. I was concerned that, knowing that we were eventually going 
to sell the vineyards, that as long as I'm here and we own the vine 
yards, you won't have any problem. But if somebody else if all of a 
sudden you're up against somebody else's property, and you've just got 
the winery on its own property without even any place to expand or 
anything like that you're in trouble. So finally, we agreed that they 
would buy some we sold 80 acres at a very reasonable price. [laughs] 
I think that's the history of the family. 



66 



Teiser: You got entirely out of the vineyard business? 

Cella: Entirely out of the vineyard business. There is no family company or 
corporation anymore, and I individually don't own any kind of farm 
property at all. The only thing that I own in the way of property is 
this apartment. [laughs] 

Teiser: You don't have to worry about the weather now 

Cella: There have been years when you'd think, "Gee, I wish I hadn't gotten 

out," and then other years, like last year, you thank the almighty God 



that you did get out. You know, it's an up and down business, 
enjoy it, it's wonderful, but it's very difficult and tough. 



If you 



John B. Cella II, Vice President, Guild Wineries and Distilleries 
since 1981 



Teiser: 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 



We got up to your affiliation with Guild. What is your ? 

My title is Vice President, Commodity Sales, and as I explained before, 
that's what I was hired for and that is entirely what I do. I handle 
all our sales of commodity. Wine, grape juice concentrate, and brandy. 



Could you describe Guild, what it is today? 






It is a cooperative, similar to what Allied was well, I shouldn't 
say similar. This is a cooperative consisting of five-hundred-some 
growers located from Ukiah down to below Fresno, almost the same 
area as Allied had that has and owns various brands including Cresta 
Blanca, Roma, Cribari, Mendocino Vineyards, and Cook's Champagne. 
Those are the major ones. They also have Quinn's Cooler, as a cooler 
type of product. They produce champagne, brandy, vermouth, dessert 
wines, table wines. We have wineries at Ukiah, which is the Cresta 
Blanca Winery now.* 

That's for sale, is it not? 

That's for sale. We have a winery, Del Rio, which is near Lodi that's 
for sale. And we have two others in Lodi, Central Cellars and Bear 
Creek, which are not for sale. Bear Creek is a good-size winery, and 
so is Central Cellars. We have the largest winery in Fresno, called 
the Cribari Winery which is our original Roma Wine Company. Out by 
the airport we have a winery called the Fresno Winery. That was the 
old Alta Winery. Remember Bev [Beverley W.] Goldthwaite? You may 
remember this as Cameo. And that has been sold. 



*The original Cresta Blanca winery was in the Livermore Valley; the 
premises are now occupied by Wente Bros. 



67 



Teiser: Why are these big wineries for sale? 

Cella: Well, because our operation is such that I think the company here 

again made a mistake and they over-expanded and have too many facili 
ties. We don't need them. And, to operate all of these is a lot 
more inefficient than it is to operate one or two or three good central 
operating wineries. We have another one outside of Fresno on McCall 
between Fresno and Sanger, McCall Winery. This was owned by a man by 
the name of Gazzara. It was known as the Crestview Winery. 

And then we have a winery down in Delano. This is a winery that 
they acquired when they bought the wines and vineyards from Schenley. 
And that's for sale. 

What we want to hopefully wind up with is the Cribari Winery in 
Fresno, the two wineries in Lodi, and that's it. As long as we have 
Cresta Blanca, we have the brand, we'll keep the winery up there too. 

Teiser: You spent a lot of money of the Cresta Blanca winery a few years ago. 



Cella: 



Teiser: 
Cella: 

Teiser: 
Cella: 



Oh yes, we did indeed. And it is a fine, premium operating winery. 
We have to find the right person who's willing to go out and market 
that and put some money behind it . 

Our president [Gerard M. Pasterick] , he's not a grower. He has 
had extensive winery experience. And then we have a group of vice- 
presidents, like myself, one in charge of national sales, one in charge 
of commodity sales, one in charge of control states, and then private 
labels that we do for supermarkets. It operates very much like any 
other commercial company, but it's basically a cooperative. 

You have very good production people too, don't you? 

Excellent production people, particularly the top man, Elie Skofis, 
who has been in the business almost as long as I have. A fine man, 
very highly thought of in the industry. 

A great brandy man, isn't he? 

He's, I'd say, one of the, if not the top brandy man. And this is not 
to take anything away from Mike [M.S.] Nury who is certainly in a 
class by himself also. He and Elie are kind of unique, I'd say, in 
their background on brandies. But Elie's had a lot of other experience 
in the running of all these wineries. He's the man that everybody 
reports to in production. 






Xeiser: So you have landed in a really very active position. 



68 



Cella: Very active position. I'm working full time. I mean, it isn't just 
a part-time thing or a consulting thing by any means. It's a full- 
time position. 

Teiser: Wonderful. 

Cella: And I'm enjoying it, Ruth. 



An Overview of the Wine Industry 



Teiser: As an observer in the wine industry for quite a number of years, do 
you think that we're going to pull out of this current slowdown? 

Cella: I do indeed. And I say that with no figures, or anything that 

startling, that's going to amaze you, or, "Gee, why didn't I think 
about that?" No, it's just that this is a product that is acceptable. 
It is not one that is going to be substituted by another type of 
product, in my opinion. And I think that like most businesses, and 
particularly the wine business, it has gone in spurts. And we kind 
of reach a plateau and all of a sudden an interest starts coming 
again, the appreciation of wine. 

The major things right now, in my opinion, that are holding us 
back, are: first, the health aspect, that people just generally don't 
want anything that they think is not healthful, and particularly if 
they think it's harmful. And the other thing, of course, is drinking 
and driving. That is a concern of certainly every mature person, and 
I guess there's just no way to overcome that. You just don't do it. 
And so, with that in mind, consumption is going to have to come from 
a different base. Hopefully, in my opinion, more people will drink 
wine at home. Or when they do go out, they'll be going out in groups 
and they'll have instead of a designated hitter like they have in 
baseball a designated driver of the car to take you home. 

The U.S. dollar has also affected imports. 

But I'm very optimistic about the wine industry. And I don't see 
it as something that's going to happen ten years from now. I think 
we're going to start seeing some appreciable increases within the 
next two years. I just feel that way. 

And I think also, what's going to be helpful is that I think our 
grape supply is getting more and more realistic as to our needs. The 
closer we come to that, the easier it becomes ultimately to market the 
products. No, I'm optimistic, and I look for a real increase in 
consumption, not necessarily on the part of individuals who are now 




John B. Cella II at the time of his interview, 1986 



69 



Cella: drinking, but in spreading it around to more people. Even though 
Europe and Italy are showing signs of going down, it's such a big 
difference between our consumption and their consumption per capita! 
It's incredible. We're not going to double our consumption overnight, 
but just doubling on the low base that we have now, we would be out 
of business [laughs] we don't have enough wine. 



Transcriber: Jolene Babyak, Ernest Galvan 
Final Typist: Elizabeth Eshleman 



TAPE GUIDE - John B. Cella, II 



Interview 1: November 18, 1985 
tape 1, side A 
tape 1, side B 
tape 2, side A 
tape 2, side B 

Interview 2: January 15, 1986 
tape 3, side a 
tape 3, side b 

Interview 3: February 11, 1986 
tape 4, side a 
tape 4, side b 
tape 5, side a 



70 



1 
1 
9 

18 
26 



28 
28 
37 

45 
45 
54 
62 



71 



APPENDIX 



Response of Louis R. Gomberg to inquiry regarding his recollection of how the 
sale of United Vintners, Inc. to Heublein, Inc. came about: 

After calling several California winery availabilities to the attention 
of Heublein' s major part owner and chief executive officer, John Martin, and 
learning of his disinterest, I then brought to his attention the possibility 
that United Vintners might, just might, be available. His response: Now 
that's the kind and size of property that would interest us. In the following 
months, a number of meetings were held, both in Hartford, Connecticut, and in 
San Francisco, leading to Heublein 's decision to buy. More than a year elapsed 
before the deal was finally concluded because one of the conditions of 
purchase was a ruling by IRS that the transaction involve the tax-free exchange 
of stock. Such a ruling was obtained many months after the parties had agreed 
upon all the terms and conditions, and all of them had been carried out to 
completion. 

(Letter to Regional Oral History Office, 1986) 






72 



JOHN B. CELLA II INDEX 

' 

Adams, A. C. , 27 

Alba Wine Company, 12, 52 

Allied Grape Growers, 38, 45, 47-48, 50-62, 65, 66 

Almaden Vineyards, 33-34 

Alta Winery, 66 

Arakelian, K. (Krikor), 19, 27 

Arakelian, John A., 27 

Aroma di California label, 22-23 

Arvin Winery, 35-36 

auctions, 6-7 

Bank of America, 9 

Bartolucci, Andres, winery, 35 

Bear Creek Winery, 66 

Beaulieu Vineyard, 62 

Berkeley Yeast Laboratory, 16 

Betsy Ross grape juice, 17-18, 30, 42-44, 47 

Bianchini, L. N. , 52, 56 

brandy, 21, 28, 41, 66, 67 

Bravo label, 37-38, 47 

Bronfman family, 25 

California Wine Association, 39, 53 

Cameo winery, 66 

Casper, , 59 

Cella Vineyards, 17, 20, 28, 29, 32-46, 50, 53, 57, 60, 64-66 

Cella Wine Company, 2-5, 20 

Cella and Broglio, 3 

Cella label, 21 

Cella, Alma. See Yoder, Alma Cella 

Cella, Ebe. See Turner, Ebe Cella 

Cella, Flori. See Petri, Flori Cella 

Cella, Giustina Belloni (Mrs. Lorenzo), 1 

Cella, John Battista (J. B.), 1-45 passim, 56, 57 

Cella, Lorenzo (Lori), 1-45 passim, 56, 57 

Central Cellars, 66 

Cezano, Renzo, 23 

Christian Brothers winery, 34, 37, 38 

concrete tanks, 9, 10-12 

Cook's champagne label, 66 

Craig, Carroll H. , 35-36 

Cresta Blanca label, 66, 67 

Cresta Blanca winery, 66, 67 

Crestview Winery, 67 

Cribari [& Sons] winery, 19, 41 

Cribari label, 66 

Cribari Winery (Guild), 28, 66, 67 

Del Rio Winery, 66 

Di Giorgio Fruit Company, 7 

Earle, Jack, 15 

Eleven Cellars label, 22 

Fessler, Julius, 16 

Fidelis label, 26 

Foresti, Dante, 3-4, 12 

Fresno Winery, 66 



73 

Fruit Industries [Ltd.], 18, 22, 24 

Gallo [E. & J.] winery, 20, 21 

Gallo, Ernest, 20, 21 

Gallo, Julio, 20, 21 

Genzoli, Tilden E., 51-52 

Giannini, A[madeo] P., 9 

Giannini, Mario, 9 

Golden Gate International Exposition. See Treasure Island 

Goldthwaite, Beverley W. (Bev), 66 

Gomberg, Louis R. (Lou), 54, 60 

Goulet, Oliver (Ollie), 33-34 

grape juice concentrate, 5, 6, 7-8, 40, 48, bb 

Grape Factors, 60, 65 

Grasso, Joseph, 16 

Guaraldi, lola, 57-58 - ,_ 

Guild [Wineries and Distilleries], 17, 28, 39, 41, 53, 63, 66-68 

Hart, Ralph, 59 

Hennessy, Ed, 59 

Heublein Inc., 35, 43, 48, 54, 58-64 

high-proof, 36, 41. See also brandy 

Holland, Clarence, 5T~ 

Huber, Paul H. , 52 

Inglenook Vineyard, 35, 38, 47, 62 

Itllian Swiss Colony. 5, 9, 11, 18, 22, 42, 45, 47, 48, 53-54, 56, 62 

Ivie, Robert M. (Bob), 63 

Iwata, Buddy, 52 

J. B. Cella label brandy, 21 

Joslyn, Maynard A., 16 

Kelly, Ed, 59 

Kite, W. E. (Ted), 14 

kosher wines, 6 

Kovacovich, John, 36 

Krum, , 27 

La Boheme label, 21 

Linkletter, Art, 22 

Madonna Winery, 35 

Marchini, Bianca Cella, 1 

Martin, John G. , 59 

Martini, Louis M. , 9 

Martini, Louis P. , 6 

McCall Winery, 67 

Mclnturf, Robert C. (Bob), 50-51, 52 

McManus, James, 55-56 

Mendocino Vineyards label, 66 

Mission Bell wine company, 19, 38, 45 

Monarch Wine Company, 19 

Monte Cristo label, 26 

Moroni, Lawrence, 14 

Mortara, Benjamin (Benny), 52-53 

Naman, N. D. , 27 

Napa Wine Company, 34-35, 38, 45 

National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association, 4y 

National Distillers [& Chemical Corporation], 17, 54 

Nauheim, Milton, 25 

Nury, M. S. (Mike), 67 

Ohanesian, Aram, 44 

Padre label, 26 

Parma Wine Company, 37-38 

Parma label, 47 

Pasterick, Gerard M. , 67 



74 

Petri Cigar Company, 4, 45, 53, 56 

Petri family, 2-4, 9, 12 

Petri Wine Company, 4, 26, 38, 45, 62 

Petri, Angelo, 3, 53 

Petri, Flori Cella, 4, 13, 28, 56 

Petri, Louis A., 3-4, 20, 28, 35, 44, 45, 47-58 passim 

Pio wine company, 22 

Pirrone family, 65 

Prima Vista winery, 18-19 

Prohibition, 5, 6, 7-9, 10, 11, 27, 33 

Quinn family, 65 

Quinn's Cooler label, 66 

Reynolds, R. J. [Industries, Inc.], 63 

Rietz disintegrator, 39, 40 

Roberts, Hollis, 65 

Roma label, 66 

Roma Wine Company, 4-31, 32, 35, 38, 65, 66 

Romanette label, 21 

Rosenstiel, Lewis R. , 25, 36-37 

Rossi family, 9, 56 

Rossi, Edmund A., 11 

Rossi, Robert D., Jr., 56 

Rusconi, Louis, 32-33 

S. S. Angelo Petri, 55 

sacramental wines, 5-6 

Safeway [Stores], 26 



L 17, 19, 20-21, 22-23, 24-25, 28, 31 

33, 36-37, 41, 67 
Schumacher, Frank W., 52-53, 54 
Seagram [Distillers Company], 17, 25 
Setrakian, Arpaxat, 41 
shipping grapes, 6, 32-33 
Skofis, Elie, 67 
Smith, Charles, 27 
Smith, Earl, 27 

Solari, B. C. (Larry), 53-55, 60 
"solarized" wine, 15 
state control, 48-50 
Stralla, Louis, 34 
sulfur (SO 2), 6 
tamper-proof bottle cap, 14 
Tarpey winery, 56, 62 
Tipo label, 42 

Treasure Island, world fair at, // 
Turner, Burton B., 28, 29, 35-36 
Turner, Ebe Cella, 10, 18, 28-29, 44-45, 46, 57 
United States Winery, 19 .. 4 , , ,-, A c 
United Vintners, 35, 38, 43, 45, 47-62, 63, 65 
University of California, Berkeley, 16 
University of California, Davis, 
Vino Rosso label, 22, 39 
"vino" wines, 39 
Virginia Dare label, 
Wahtoke winery, 
Watson, Stuart, 59 
Weston Wine Company, 3-4, 12 
Wine Institute, 48, 64 
Yoder, Alma Cella, 10, 28 



75 



Grape Varieties Mentioned in the Interview 

Alicante Bouschet, 7, 33, 39 

Barbera, 34 

Cabernet Sauvignon, 7, 34 

Carignane, 7, 31, 39 

Catawba, 43 

Chardonnay, 7, 34, 43 

Chenin blanc, 7, 43 

Concord, 17, 40, 43 

Grenache, 33 

Muscat, 7, 31, 43 

Petite Sirah, 7 

Semillon, 34 

Thompson Seedless, 31, 41 

Zinfandel, 7, 31, 34, 39 

Wines Mentioned in the Interview 

burgundy, 42 

chablis, 41-42 

champagne, 16, 66 

Charbono, 35 

claret, 42 

Creme di Roma, 17 

Grenache Rose, 33 

muscatel, 31 

port, 31 

sauterne, 41-42 

Sauternes, 42 

sherry, 16-17, 27, 31, 38 

vermouth, 66 









Ruth Teiser 



Born in Portland, Oregon; came to the Bay 

Area in 1932 and has lived here ever since. 
Stanford University, B.A. , M.A. in English; 

further graduate work in Western history. 
Newspaper and magazine writer in San Francisco 

since 1943, writing on local history and 

business and social life of the Bay Area. 
Book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, 

1943-1974. 
Co-author of Winemaking in California, a 

history, 1982. 
An interviewer-editor in the Regional Oral 

History Office since 1965. 






& ' 

\j