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Full text of "A life in wine making : oral history transcript / 1969 and 1975"

mfru^ 

University of California • Berkeley 





Deaths 



S.F. Sunday Examiner & Chronicle > August 8, 1976 



Dean of winemakers dead at 95 



Antonio Perelli-Minettl. known 
as the dean of California winemak 
ers, is dead at age 95. 

Perelli-Minetti died Friday in a 
Bakersfield hospital. 

The son of a prominent Italian 
winemaker. Perelli-Minetti came to 
the United States a year after his 
graduation from the Royal Institute 
of Viticulture and Enology in Italy 
in 1901. 

When Prohibition was enacted 
in this country, Perelli-Minetti 
moved to Mexico, where he planted 
huge vineyards and became the 
U.S. liaison with Pancho Villa at 
Torreon. 

After repeal. Perelli-Minetti re 
turned to this country and worked 
in the wine business in Asti, Liver- 
more, Lodi. Ukiah and San Francis 
co. Then he planted his -own vine 
yards on land others thought un- 




ANTONIO PERELLI-MINETTI 

Constantly experimenting 



promising — the southern San 
Joaquin Valley near Delano. 



Perelli-Minetti loved his work 
and was constantly experimenting. 
Last year he introduced a patented 
varietal grape called Perelli 101. 
which he said produced a full- 
bodied red wine "equal or better 
than the Napa Valley or Sonoma 
County wines I knew so well in my 
earlier years." 

He did not introduce the wine 
into general consumption, saying 
he believed the grapes needed 
further fermentation, but he used 
some of them in blending other 
wines. 

He founded his own company, 
A. Perelli-Minetti and Sons, in 1924. 
His family operates the California 
Wine Association's 1,200 acres of 
vineyards. near Delano, whose win 
ery crushes more than 100,000 tons 
of grapes a year. 



Funeral 
pending. 



arrangements were 











All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between the Regents of the University of California and Antonio 
Perelli-Minetti, dated 8 November, 1974. 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 indentif ication of the specific passages to be quoted, 
anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. 
The legal agreement with Antonio Perelli-Minetti requires that he be 
notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 



The Bancroft Library University of California/Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 



California Wine Industry Oral History Project 



Antonio Perelli-Minetti 
A LIFE IN WINE MAKING 



An Interview Conducted by 
Ruth Teiser in 1969 



© 1975 by The Regents of the University of California 




Antonio Perelli-Minetti being interviewed, May IT, 1969. Photograph by Catherine Harroun. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS -- Antonio Perelli-Minetti 

PREFACE i 

INTRODUCTION ill 

EARLY YEARS IN ITALY 1 

TO CALIFORNIA 6 

SAN FRANCISCO 10 

REMARKS ON WINE PASTEURIZATION 13 

PROHIBITION AND THE WINE INDUSTRY 16 

WORKING FOR ITALIAN SWISS COLONY, 1902-1903 18 

THE CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION, 1903-1904 21 

WINE MAKING IN HEALDSBURG, 1904-1906 24 

THE 1906 EARTHQUAKE 27 

RETURN TO HEALDSBURG 30 

AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN GRAPE VARIETIES 34 

EXPERIMENTAL PLANTINGS 39 

LAST PRE -PROHIBITION AND FIRST POST-REPEAL ENTERPRISES 42 

MEXICO, 1910-1917 44 

INTERVAL IN TULARE COUNTY, 1914 49 

REMARKS ON WEATHER CHANGES 52 

BACKGROUND OF DELANO ENTERPRISES 53 

CALIFORNIA GRAPE PRODUCTS IN URIAH AND DELANO 55 



VENTURES WITH DI GIORGIO AND WALLACE 61 

BEGINNINGS OF A. PERELLI-MINETTI & SONS 66 

ORIGINS OF FRUIT INDUSTRIES 67 

JOSEPH DI GIORGIO AND SECONDO GUASTI 72 

FRUIT INDUSTRIES AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION 75 

FAMILY COMPANIES 79 

MECHANIZATION 83 

WINERY FINANCING AND MARKET STABILIZATION 84 

FRUIT INDUSTRIES AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION (CONTINUED) 90 

CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION AND OTHER COOPERATIVES 95 

THE A. PERELLI-MINETTI & SONS WINERY 101 

GIUSEPPE PERELLI-MINETTI 109 

EARLY LEADERS OF ITALIAN SWISS COLONY 111 

EARLY LEADERS IN FRUIT INDUSTRIES 117 

THE GUASTI VINEYARDS 118 

FRUIT INDUSTRIES AFFAIRS (CONTINUED) 122 

WINE AND STABILIZATION PLANS 132 

RECENT TRENDS 137 

WINERY-GROWER RELATIONSHIPS 143 

CORPORATIONS AND COOPERATIVES 146 

EUROPEAN AND CALIFORNIA WINES 148 

WINE GRAPE GROWING AREAS IN CALIFORNIA 151 

CALIFORNIA VARIETAL WINES 155 



APPENDIX 

Giuseppe Perelli-Minetti letterhead and label 157 

A. Perelli-Minetti advertisement, 1934 158 
A brief account of Giuseppe and Antonio Perelli-Minetti 

(in Italian) Vini D 1 Italia. March-April 1970 159 



INDEX 166 

(For Wines and Grapes see page 174) 



PREFACE 



The California Wine Industry Oral History Series, a 
project of the Regional Oral History Office, was initiated 
in 1969 » the year noted as the bicentenary of continuous 
wine making in this state. It was undertaken through the 
action and with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, 
and under the direction of University of California faculty 
and staff advisors at Berkeley and Davis. 

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 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 idsas, 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. 



11 



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 Telser 
Project Director 
California Wine Industry 
Oral History Series 



1 March 1971 

Regional Oral History Office 
4-86 The Bancroft Library 
University of California, Berkeley 



iii 



INTRODUCTION 



Antonio Perelli-Minetti 's interest in wine is inherited and life-long. 
Born in 1882 at Barletta, Italy, he knew wine making from childhood when, 
as he recounted in this interview, he worked with the men in his father's 
winery at crushing time. After graduating from the college of viticulture 
and enology at Conegliano, Italy, he came to California and immediately 
went to work for Italian Swiss Colony. That was in 1902, and he has been 
directly involved in the California wine industry ever since with the 
exception of the years between 1910 and 1917, which he spent mainly in 
Mexico involved in grape growing, wine making and adventure. 

In the Pre-Prohibition years in California he was associated with a 
number of wineries including the old California Wine Company, the Simi 
family firm, and the property near Healdsburg previously owned by Frank 
Schmidt. He continued through the Prohibition years with California Grape 
Products Company and other enterprises. He was one of the organizers in 
1929 of Fruit Industries, Ltd., and continued association with that group 
when it reorganized under the name California Wine Association, a cooperative 
until it was acquired by A. Perelli-Minetti & Sons in 1971. An inveterate 
viticultural experimenter, "Tony" Perelli-Minetti was a pioneer vineyardist 
in the Delano area and established his family firm there in the early 1930s. 

During his long career, Mr. Perelli-Minetti has known virtually all 
of the leaders of the California wine industry and worked with many of 
them, including such famed figures as P.C. Rossi, A.R. Morrow, Joseph 
Di Giorgio, and Secondo Guasti. In this interview he discussed a wide 
range of subjects and people. His reminiscences reflect the fact that he 
is an outspoken individualist with a bright, quick mind and ideas about 
grapes and wine that are often controversial, a talented reconteur whose 
recollections frequently reflect his unconventional points of view and 
interpretations of events, and a man of unusual charm and unusual vitality. 

Other discussions of many of these same subjects will be found in 
other interviews in this series; some are here cited in footnotes. 

The interview was taped in four sessions, the first three in Mr. 
Perelli-Minetti 's pleasant but simple office at the family winery at 
McFarland near Delano: two sessions on May 16 and a third on May 17, 1969. 
The fourth followed on May 28, when Mr. Perelli-Minetti made one of his 
frequent trips to San Francisco; it was held at the interviewer's studio. 
In this final session, some subjects discussed earlier were brought up for 
further discussion, and throughout the wide-ranging interview certain 
subjects recurred at intervals. 



iv 



The interview transcript, with orthographic and other minor corrections 
and numerous marginal queries, went to Mr. Perelli-Minetti in August, 1970. 
His active schedule, which included some foreign winery consultation work 
and much travel, prevented him from completing his editing immediately. 
He returned the transcript in January 1973, having apparently gone over it 
carefully twice; it was considerably edited, with few deletions but expansion 
and clarification of wording that answered most of the questions and added 
further details. The final editing by the interviewer was completed after 
further correspondence and two meetings to verify certain other points. 



Ruth Teiser 
Interviewer 



October 1975 

Regional Oral History Office 

486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 



(Interview #1 - May 16, 1969) 



Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti 

Teiser: 

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EARLY YEARS IN ITALY 

When were you born? 

June 3, 1882. I will be eighty-seven. 

You certainly are a vigorous eighty-seven! 

I drink good wine. 

Oh, that's it. [Laughter] Where were you born? 

Barletta, Italy. 

Were members of your family winemakers? 

For generations. 

In what part of Italy? 

In the north, in Milano. My father was from Milano. All 
my family, the Perelli-Minetti, are from Milano. But my 
father happened to be in the south and saw my mother, and 
that settled him in the south. 

Your father's first name was Giuseppe? 

Yes. 

This book is by your father? 



Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti; 

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Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti 

Teiser: 

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Yes. How to improve wine making in Southern Italy.* And 
if you read that, it's just as modern as today in some 
parts. 

Your father had wineries in both Brindisi and Barletta? 

That's right. My father was then [in 1876] associated with 
Julius Rakosi of the famous Hungarian family. When they 
separated, my father remained alone. 

Would you repeat what you said earlier about the convict 
labor that your father used? 

As I remember--! was a little boy--we'd all go down to 
the plant and see the convicts come in all in chains, a 
block on one foot. The guard at the gate would remove the 
chains and they would be free to do all the work. They 
were paid just like anybody else. They had a chance to 
work and earn money. 

And your father's secretary, you said, was a priest? 

So far as I remember, yes. 

How did that happen? 

One of those things. A woman... 

Did your father come to the United States? 

Yes, he did.** He died here in 1907. 

Let's go back to your childhood and come up to that period 
later. You must have spent a good deal of time as a boy 
around the winery. 



*Nil* Assoluta Necessita di Migliorare la Vinif icazione delle 
Tre Puftlie. idee di Giuseppe Perelli Minetti. Third edition. 
Barletta: 1876. 



**See also pp. 109-111. 



Perelli-Minetti: Yes, quite so. As a matter of fact, I went on and graduated 

fcom the viticultural college. In those days it was the 
Royal College of Viticulture and Oenology of Conegliano. 



Teiser: 

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Had you gone through the regular schools before? 
That's right. 

Had you worked at the winery while you were a youngster? or 
had you just. . . 

No, we had to work. 

What did you first do in the winery? 

[Stamps to demonstrate] Stamping grapes. I remember we 
had about a hundred vats, and a hundred men stamped the 
grapes. And we used to get in with the men, and then into 
their lunch too [laughter]. Because it always—what do you 
call it?--tasted better than your own lunch at home. Of 
course there was nothing but an onion, a piece of bread, 
and some anchovies, and wine, while at home we had soup— 
a lot of food—you know. But we liked the peasants' stuff. 
It's natural for a child. But then when I graduated from 
high school I went to Conegliano; graduated in 1901. 

How long a course was it? 
Four years. 

Did you have to study basic chemistry and bacteriology and 
all. „ . 

Everything. Everything. A complete course, just like the 
University at Davis now. 

Four years of intensive study must have made you very well 
informed in viticulture and enology. 

Well, the fact is that, with the exception of some of the 
theoretical parts, I knew all about what they were teaching. 

Was the theoretical part the same as was known here? 

Oh yes. The theoretical part is practically the same now 
all over. 



Teiser : 



You graduated in 1901. 
after that? 



Then what did you do immediately 



Perelli-Minetti; 
Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti; 



Teiser: 
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Teiser: 
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Went home. And then I came here. 

How did you happen to come here instead of staying there 
in your father's business? 

In college, in Conegliano school, there were students from 
Australia, from South Africa, from different parts of 
Europe, from Hungary, from Argentina, and from the Balkans. 
I think there was one from China, I remember; and we used 
to discuss the question of where we would go when we 
graduated. One would pick one country, another picked 
another, and I picked California, principally for the 
reason that the Italian commercial attache" in the United 
States had published a book of all the wineries in the 
United States. It was a beautifully illustrated book 
about twelve inches by fourteen inches, folio, and about 
five inches thick. I cannot recollect the author's name. 

It was in Italian? 

Yes, in Italian. It was beautiful. All the wineries in 
the East, every winery in the United States. It was 
extremely interesting. Now that made me decide to go to 
California. I wanted to go to Mexico, but Mexico wasn't... 
My father objected to that. 

But he didn't urge you to stay with him? 

Of course, but I didn't like to be a soldier. I ran away 
the morning that I was supposed to be inducted. The night 
before I took the train to Turin, and I went to the 
barracks where the army wouldn't think to find me, where a 
friend of the family, a lieutenant of the bersaglieri, was 
stationed. Then I moved to France, because from France 
there was not needed a passport to come to the U.S.A., 
while from Italy you had to have a passport. But the 
reason I came to the Italian Swiss Colony was because my 
father was president of the wine jury of the exposition 
of Turin in 1898. And then of Paris, 1900. And he was 
instrumental in getting the gold medal for Italian Swiss 



Perelli-Minetti: 



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Colony.* We had a visit from Dr. [Giuseppe] Ollino.** And 
naturally he told the beauties and possibilities of 
California. As a matter of fact, we were assured of employ 
ment in California. 

You say "we"? 

Yes, my brother came, too. Four of us graduated from the 
same school. 

How many children in your family? 
Six boys. 

And four of you went to the same school? And two came 
here? 

All of us in the end. 
At the same time? 

No. One after another. We all came alone. Different 
times. Then we brought my father over. 

Which one of you came first? 
I think it was Joseph. 
When did he come? 

It was about a couple of years before I did. I think he 
ran away because he failed in the examination at Avellino 
school. 

Around 1900, that would be? 

Yes. And he went to New York. We never heard from him 
for about two or three years, could never find him where 
he was. And then through an archbishop, who had some 
family connection with ours, we finally located him. 



*The gold medal was awarded Italian Swiss Colony wine at 
Paris in 1900, and a diploma of honor was awarded it at 
Turin in 1898. 



**0ne of the founders of Italian Swiss Colony. 



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Did he finally come to California? 

Yes. 

Then you came next? 

No. I was in California before that. I came directly to 
California. My oldest brother came first to California. 

And what was his name? 

• 

Julius. 

When did he come here? 

The year before. 1901. 

So Joseph came first to the United States. Then Julius 
came. Then you came. And then there were more? 

Yes. Carlo, Caesar, Frederick. Frederick was the last. 

And when did your father come? 

I believe a year before the earthquake. 

1905. Now, we've got you all in this country. 



Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 
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TO CALIFORNIA 

You came then to California when you came to the United States? 
Yes, in a roundabout way. 
How did you journey? 

After arriving in Torino* the next morning, I went to see 
the lieutenant in the bersaglieri. I told him what I 
wanted, and he said, well, as long as it is only a few 
days it's all right. Nobody will look for you here. But 



*Turin. See p. 4. 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



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Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



the question was how to get out of Italy. That night we 
went to some shady, you know, cabaret. As we entered 
there was a fight. A couple of fellows were attacking a 
young man, and they had out their daggers. The young 
fellow was defending himself with a chair. So I said to 
my friend who, being a bersagliere, was highly respected 
in Italy, "Let's help this boy or they'll kill him." 

We managed to stop the fight and the young man 
introduced himself. I remember his name very well. I 
never think I will forget that name: Enrico Peritori. 
We sat down and had dinner, and he told me his father had 
ships that took lemons and oranges to New York, loaded in 
New York with goods for Newcastle. In Newcastle they 
loaded with coal for Sicily. He wanted me to go with him 
to Newcastle and then back to Sicily, and my trip would 
be gratis to New York on one of his ships. I said, "No, 
if I get out of Italy, I'm not going back." [Laughter] 
He said, "In Sicily, nobody will touch you." I said, "No 
matter what, it is still Italy, and that's the end of it." 

Now the question was, how to get out of Italy. He 
suggested, "Take the night pullman to Paris and if the 
customs come, tell them not to bother you, and they will 
not bother you." That's what I did, and went to Paris. 
Well, I bought a ticket to New York and California before 
I left Paris. If I hadn't, maybe I would be in France 
still [laughing]. You know, I was twenty years old then. 
So I got to New York. 

Where did you sail from? 

From Le Havre. We almost foundered. It was an old ship, 
and we were out in a big tempest. The Atlantic was 
tremendously rough and the ship lost a part of one of the 
propellers. But we got to New York. 

How long did it take you? 

If I remember correctly, some ten to twelve days. I came 
in third class because they didn't have any fourth. You 
know, the money was gone, and I was feeling not too well 
on the ship. 

Incidentally, when you went to Paris, was that the first 
time you'd been in France? 



Perelli-Minetti: Yes. 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



What did you think of the wines in France then compared 
to your own wine? 

I didn't look at the wine; I looked at something else. 
[Laugh] No, I was too busy to think about the wine. We 
drank whatever wine there was. 

When I got in New York, I was supposed to have $60 
to land, which I didn't have. I had only one centime. 

What happened? 

They put me in a cage; you know those iron cages? And I 
saw the people that were on the boat with me coming with a 
little basket of food and crying. I asked them "Why are 
you crying?" 

"Look Signore, look; venticinque lire, twenty-five 
liras, for this little food they gave us." Twenty-five 
liras to a man who was getting twenty cents a day, current 
wages in Italy in those days for field labor. Naturally 
they knew the value of money, and when you charged them 
twenty-five liras for what probably was worth less, they 
resented it and they were crying because it just hurt. 
Then a waiter came into the cage and wanted to know if I 
wanted to go to eat. I said, "No." And he came two, three 
times. 

Finally he said something I didn't understand because 
I spoke no English. But from the expression of his face, 
he called me a bad name. I just jumped on him and I just 
licked the devil out of him. I had him down when a 
policeman came and grabbed me, and my God, he looked to me as 
if he was ten feet tall. Tremendous big Irish man. He 
spoke Italian perfectly, and he said to me, "You haven't 
even reached this country and you are fighting; they'll 
send you back." I answered him, "I thought this was a free 
country where people would have respect for each other, but 
it doesn't seem to be the case, so I prefer to go back." 
He asked, "Why did you fight?" I said, "I don't know. He 
insulted me. He called me a bad name. Ask him." He 
asked the waiter, "What did you say to him?" "I called him 
a dago or s.b. or something." 



Perelli-Minetti; 



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Perelli-Minetti; 



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Then he asked me, "Aren't you hungry?" I said, "Yes, 
I'm hungry, but that doesn't mean that I have to eat, 
because to eat I have to pay, and I haven't any money." 
And he said to me, "How do you expect to land?" 

"I don't know." 

"Well," he said, "you go and eat now, and it will be 
free." I said, "All right, I'll go and eat," and to myself, 
"This fellow's going to spit in the food, he's going to-- 
God knows what he's going to do." So I said to the waiter, 
"You bring me two eggs in the shell, and that's all." I 
broke the eggs and I drank them, and that was all my food. 
I said to myself, "He is not going to have the satisfaction 
of spitting in my food." 

At about four o'clock the policeman came in dressed 
in civilian clothes. Actually, I didn't recognize him. 
He asked me to follow him to the chief's office. What he 
told the chief I don't know, but the chief told me I was 
free to go. 

What season was it? What weather in New York? 

Winter. There were a couple of feet of snow in New York, 
and the boat had to follow an ice breaker to come into 
port. Times were different. I mean, the climate was 
different in those days than it is today. Very much 
different. I've seen so much change in California, it 
would astound anybody. 

This was the winter of 1902, then? 

February, 1902. From New York, by a boat, I went to 
Norfolk. I've never seen, never dreamed of seeing such 
beautiful scenery in my life, the entrance into Norfolk's 
sound was so beautiful that I never went back, because I 
don't want to lose that picture. I still hold it in my 
mind. Oh, it was something hard to imagine, especially 
coming from the old country, you know, and this.... Oh, 
it was so beautiful. 

That's what we think when we go to Italy. 

But it's different. This was nature. Well, from there I 
gradually got to California. 



10 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

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Perelli-Minetti; 

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Did you come on a train? 

On a train. Second class. In those days, it was wooden 
benches. 

Sit up? 

Oh, sit up. At that age you don't give a darn whether you 
sleep or not. 

It was still winter when you got to California? 

It was toward the end of February 1902 when I arrived in 
San Francisco. It took seven days, the train from Norfolk 
to San Francisco. 



SAN FRANCISCO 



Teiser: 



Do you remember what San Francisco was like when you first 
saw it? 



Perelli-Minetti: Oh yes. Quite a beautiful city of some 240,000 people, so 

I was told. I worked for Italian Swiss Colony. 



Teiser : 



Did you go directly to Italian Swiss Colony? 



Perelli-Minetti: Yes, Mr. Pietro Rossi invited me to lunch with Mr. Andrea 

Sbarboro and a Mr. Rocca, then Italian consul in San 
Francisco. Mr. Fontana was there too.* 



Teiser: 



You were really well escorted for a young man. 



Perelli-Minetti: Yes, that's true. 

Teiser: Did you go to the Fior d' Italia? 



*Pietro C. Rossi, Andrea Sbarboro and Mark J. Fontana were 
founders of what was then still called the Italian-Swiss 
Agricultural Colony; Rossi was then president. See also 
pp. 11, 18-21 and 111-117. Further details of the organiza 
tion were recalled by Edmund A. Rossi in Italian Swiss Colony 
and the Wine Industry, an interview in this series completed 
in 1971. 



11 



Perelli-Minetti; 

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No. We went to a Washington Street restaurant, I forgot 
the name, and they brought a steak that was really big. 

[Laughing] Had you ever seen one that big before? 

No, because, well, at home, the steaks were individual. 
But this one was a large one and they cut it into pieces. 

Did you go to the Fior d 'Italia restaurant soon after 
that? 

I've been eating at the Fior d' Italia ever since. Twenty- 
five cents was a big meal in those days, and a pint of 
wine included. 

Good wine? 
Very good wine. 

But at that first lunch, did they tell you all about 
San Francisco? 

No. They told me the possibilities in California, and so 
forth and so on. 

Incidentally, which Mr. Fontana was it? 

Marco. He was a little fellow, a very little man. He was 
the father of the canning industry. He's the one who 
established the canning industry in California. I think 
it became California Packing Corporation—the company that 
is today.* 

Did he tell you about the canning industry? What 
possibilities there were for a young man in that? 

Yes, but I wasn't interested in that. I was interested in 
wine, and so Mr. Rossi told me that my diploma doesn't mean 
anything in the United States, that what meant was the 
performance of the individual himself. And that I had to 



*Mark J. Fontana founded the California Fruit Canners 
Association, which later became part of California Packing 
Corporation (Del Monte Foods). 



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start from the very bottom and work myself up. So I 
started washing barrels, mending barrels, and then 
gradually built up, and six months after, they sent me to 
Asti as assistant winemaker. 

You had spent the six months in San Francisco, had you? 

That's right. 

What was Italian Swiss doing there then? 

They had a big winery, a five story building on Battery 
and off Broadway, where wines from various parts of the 
state were received, to supply customers with. It was a 
blending and bottling plant. And it was quite a big place. 
P.C. Rossi was the president of the company, and [Sophus] 
Federspiel was the manager, under Mr. Rossi. And George 
Dondero was the chief auditor. I mention his name for the 
fact that later he withdrew from Italian Swiss Colony and 
joined with Ciocca-Lombardi [Wine] Company, which later 
bought the building of Italian Swiss Colony. That was 
after the earthquake. 

Where did you live in San Francisco? 

I lived on Filbert Street at the home of the mother of the 
manager of Italian Swiss Colony in New York. Mr. Rossi had 
arranged it for me, to have a room at her place. She was 
a woman about seventy. I used to walk to a place on 
Broadway, near the biscuit place, for breakfast. 

Near the American Biscuit Company building? 

Yes. On its side was an Irish restaurant, so I used to 
have breakfast there, and then go down to the winery, 
which was in the next block. At seven o'clock we had to 
go to work, seven to twelve and one to six. We were 
getting $10 a week. 

Where did you eat lunch? 

For $10 a month we had lunch and dinner at a restaurant- 
it was a boarding place — in the Colombo Hotel on Broadway, 
near what was then Dupont and now Grant Avenue. 



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Did they have good wine? 



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Good wine, 
would eat. 



All the wine you would want, all the food you 



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When you came here to the United States and tasted the 
wines, did they taste like the wines that you had had in 
Italy? 

There was a little difference, but a difference that you 
overcame right away, and you liked them. But the wines 
then were good wines. 

They were better wines than now? 

Much better. You'll find that in those days, like 
California Wine Association, Italian Swiss Colony—that was 
before the earthquake--Lachman & Jacobi, Schlesinger 
Brothers, and all those big companies, carried some wine 
for fifteen years. California Wine Association had the 
wines that were fifteen years old, maybe a couple of million 
gallons. 

Didn't they have a good deal of spoilage? 

Oh no. It was taken good care of. The wine was bottled 
without much processing, practically just a filtration. 
It was aged properly and bottled, and no sediment in the 
bottles. Most wine was shipped in barrels. The wines in 
those days were made like in the old country, as a hundred 
years ago. 



REMARKS ON WINE PASTEURIZATION 



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They were not pasteurized? 

Very seldom. 

Does that make a difference? 

It makes a difference quite a bit; I would think so. To 
pasteurize, it kills all the yeast in the wines. Nature 
furnishes the yeast, many kinds. We don't know how some 
function. Quite a number we ignore their function on the 
stomach, on the body, what influence they have. That 
"bloom" that you see on the berries is constituted of a 









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:«iTiv 



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Perelli-Minetti : couple hundred different yeasts that come from the ground. 

In 1930, I was with Fruit Industries. We built the 
plant in Delano* to take care of the grapes. That plant 
was brand new. We made a concentrate. We started the 
plant in June and crushed 30,000 tons, which was a big 
crush in those days. And that was during Prohibition, 
1930, two years before Prohibition was removed.** Food 
Industries had the laboratories in San Francisco, and one 
day I received a note that our winery was contaminated. 
I answered the letter saying, I'm sorry but the man who 
wrote the letter knows very little of what he's talking 
about, because if our plant here, which is spotless and 
brand new, is contaminated, the other old plants which are 
now part of the Fruit Industries must be like sewers, but 
not this winery. 

"We are sending a bacteriologist down," was the 
answer. He came and took slides all over the winery, and 
found this wild yeast which caused the trouble in the 
concentrate. I said, "All right, now you come with me." 
We went in the vineyard about a mile away from the winery. 
I said, "Now you put the slides here." He said, "What 
for?" I said, "You put the slides here; I'm going to teach 
you and that jackass in San Francisco something that 
apparently you don't know, because if you knew it he wouldn't 
have written the letter he wrote." He put the slides, and 
he found, among other yeasts, the same wild yeast. I said, 
"Now let's go about two miles away, where there's no vine 
yard." He put the slides down and found the same yeasts. 
I said, "Now let's go up to the mountains." So we went 
about ten miles away in the foothills. I said, "You put 
the slides here." And then we went about six thousand feet 
elevation, way up past California Hot Springs. "Now you 
put the slides here." He says, "What for?" I said, "You 
put the slides here." And he finds the same yeast, and 
there were no wild vines. I said, "That's nature. When 
the grapes are ripening, or any fruit is ripening, the 
yeast gets to the fruit; otherwise the fruit could not 
ferment. So when you get a little crack, the yeast gets in, 
and the grapes sour up."*** 

So, now, those 200 or 250 yeasts, of which we know very 
little, produce some effects on the body when you drink wine 



*See also pp. 61-62. 

**Final ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment repealing 
Prohibition came on December 5, 1933. 

***See also p. 64. 



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that is not pasteurized. But when you pasteurize wine, 
you remove nature from it. And based on that, I cured a 
drunkard. He was a young man, university graduate. He 
had lost all his business. I gave him work in the 
winery, and by ten o'clock in the morning at the beginning 
he'd be drunk on whiskey. It was during the war. We 
couldn't get any help. There was my opportunity to 
rehabilitate this man. I had several Italians working in 
the plant. I said to them, "Gradually bring Mr. X to have 
lunch with you. Give him some wine to drink." And he 
started drinking wine. The more wine he drank, the less 
whiskey. After a year he was completely cured. He was 
elected justice of the peace, and then his old partner 
sold him back part of the business, and he was able to 
educate his family. 

Is much California wine unpasteurized today? 

Oh yes. We don't pasteurize our wine. It.'s not necessary 
because the process, the cold process and the way things are 
done today, it's almost unnecessary to pasteurize. But 
the trouble is this, that the wines now are too young. But 
they're still good wines. They're still healthier than 
hard liquor. 

When I was in school, we used to make experiments of 
the effect of the wine. I will mention just one. We 
took two pints of the same wine. We distilled the wine 
of one pint and gave the alcohol to a dog, and the wine 
itself of the other pint to another dog. The dog that 
drank the wine woke up, shook himself, and got away. The 
dog that got the alcohol never got up; just died. Of 
course that distillation wasn't pure like we do today, but 
still it is changed completely. The distilled alcohol is 
different from that of the wine. 

Well, wine tastes better anyway. 

It tastes better, but the American can't see that. 

More and more of us can, I guess. 

The younger generation is taking more after the wine. 



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PROHIBITION AND THE WINE INDUSTRY 



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It's too bad that Prohibition destroyed the best industry 
that could have generated a wine drinking people rather 
than a hard liquor drinking people. I wrote to Roosevelt, 
begging him not to open the saloons, and to just allow dry 
wines free, and sweet wines and liquors controlled. 
Because during Prohibition people drank more wine than 
they drank before Prohibition. California used to ship 
grapes to the East. No matter where you went to a speakeasy 
for dinner, you drank a cup of wine, because you ate for 
bidden fruit quicker than you would the fruit you can buy 
any time you want it. I made a survey in San Francisco 
for Fruit Industries, and San Francisco and the Bay Area 
consumed fifteen million gallons of wine. 

When was this? 

During Prohibition. In 1930 I was operated for appendicitis, 
and a young fellow that used to work for me when I was with 
Simi [winery] came to see me. He had been a policeman; 
then he was in the fire department. I didn't remember him-- 
it was so many years and I had gone to Mexico. So I said 
to him, "I am going to make a survey of the wine that's 
consumed , which I can figure through the grapes that are 
coming to San Francisco." He took me to all the wineries 
that were in San Francisco during Prohibition. 

You mean in homes? 

No, no, no. Good sized wineries. Thirty, forty, fifty 
thousand gallons, maybe more. In big apartment house 
basements, with 10,000-20,000 gallon tanks. Because 
San Francisco was the only place in the United States where 
the distribution of wine was practiced without guns, and 
done so quietly that nobody knew anything about its traffic. 
The scavengers* I was told would deliver the wine to the 
house and put the demijohn into the trash can on the back 
porch, and pick up the refuse and the empty demijohn. That's 
why no bootleggers could get into San Francisco. A couple 



*Garbage collection in San Francisco was handled by the 
company known as the Scavengers' Protective Association. 



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of people came from the East and tried, and the next day 
they were found in the Bay. Several from New York and 
Chicago came here, two or three people, and that stopped. 
They too were found in the Bay. 

The grapes were sold freely because every family had 
the right to buy grapes and make wine, 200 gallons [a year 
per family] , during Prohibition. But the grapes went into 
San Francisco. Checking with the railroads, checking with 
the people that sold the grapes at market, the wholesale 
produce men, there came over 100,000 tons of grapes into 
San Francisco and the Bay Region. 

And the scavengers did not process the grapes? 

No, they did not. They were processed by bootleggers. 
I met several of the bootleggers, who because of this fellow, 
showed me the wineries and everything else. This man had 
been a policeman and fireman; he knew everybody and the 
bootleggers talked to me freely. Nobody would bother them 
because there was no scandal in San Francisco; there were 
no scandals like in New York and other places. The thing 
was quietly done. Now if you take the figure 100,000 tons 
of grapes, and that a ton of grapes will produce about 
160 to 170 gallons, that's 16 or 17 million gallons that 
was consumed then. Before Prohibition, California Wine 
Association alone carried about 35 million gallons of dry 
wine. 

Was that pretty good wine they made in San Francisco 
during Prohibition? 

Beautiful wine! 
It really was? 

Oh God, as good a wine as you can find any place. All 
grapes from the north, except a few grapes from Lodi. 
[Pause while tape is turned] 

Mostly from the north, you said... 

From around the Bay, and north of the Bay, because many 
grapes were grown in Alameda County and Contra Costa, 
Santa Cruz, San Jose. 

The men who made the wine, the bootleggers, had they been 
in the wine business before Prohibition? 



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I don't think so. 

How'd they learn, I wonder. 

Well, maybe they had a winemaker. 

Someone who knew from before? 

Yes. 

WORKING FOR ITALIAN SWISS COLONY, 1902-1903 



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Let's go back to 1902 again, 
for six months? 



So you lived in San Francisco 



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Six months, and used to walk down to the winery, work all 
day, and then go back home. And lived with this American 
old lady and talked to her all I could, and then took 
English lessons at night. 

Where did you take the English lessons? 

Well, I went to the Washington night school for about a 
week, and then I thought it was much easier to take private 
lessons. So there was a niece of Mr. Sbarboro that was a 
school teacher, and I used to go to her home, which wasn't 
very far. She lived on Columbus. I would go there at 
around eight p.m., one hour every night. 

So by the time you got up to Asti, you knew pretty much 
English? 

Quite so, yes. 

How big was the operation at Asti when you first saw it? 

It was quite a large place. The fermenting room there was 
a brand new one. They built it the year before. It could 
accommodate 5,000 tons of grapes in one crushing. But the 
operation of Asti, aside from its crushing, was the con 
tribution of many other small wineries in Sonoma County 
that made the wine and delivered it to Asti. Asti was 
quite a large place, had several million gallons capacity. 



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Had one tank half a million gallons, then the largest in 
California. Quite a showplace. 

This was the first actual wine making in the United States 
you had seen then? 

That's right. 

Was it much different from what had been done in your 
father's winery? 

No, no different. Only Asti had more machinery that we had 
in Italy. 

Like what? Pumps? 

No, not so much pumps, because we had hand pumps too. But 
the crushers, complete winery equipment. 

How about filtering? 

The filters were of different types. We had the pulp 
filter mostly in those days. 

Did you think it was a good winery? By your standards? 

I thought it was a good winery, yes, very good winery for 
those days. 

Who was in charge then there? 

The superintendent of Asti Colony was a Swiss Italian by 
the name of Allegrini.* The winemaker was a Piemontese. 
I was told that the first winemaker was a Swiss Italian, 
when the Italian Swiss Colony was first incorporated and 
they built the first unit,** and the first wine made there 



*Probably Julius Allegrini. See Edmund A. Rossi, 
op. cit. 



**Italian Swiss Agricultural Colony was incorporated in 
1881, but the first winery was not built until 1887. 



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was 100,000 gallons. He was from Switzerland. The story 
went that in Switzerland they had to close the windows 
and doors and sometimes heat up the place in order to 
ferment, and this fellow did the same thing over there in 
Asti [laughing]. He made vinegar. 

Italian Swiss Colony had a big winery at Fulton. 
Then? 

Oh yes. They had a big winery in Kingsburg and Madera. 
So your job there at Asti was as... 

...assistant winemaker, shipping clerk, and timekeeper. 
Was a man named Enrico Prati there then? 

No, he followed me. He came after I left. Mr. Prati came 
from Argentina. 

Who were you assistant to? 

Hannibal, like the Carthaginian general that attacked Rome, 
was his given name. His family name I can't remember. 

How long then did you work there? 

I went there in June 1902 and I left there in February 1903. 
And there's a little story to the case. 

The crushing season started I think in August. During 
the grape season Asti employed a weighmaster, a name I can 
never forget, Shirley Black. (He died a year or so ago.) 
Mr. Rossi and Mr. Sbarboro were together, and I think Mr. 
Allegrini too. I said to Mr. Rossi: "I have a man by the 
name of Shirley Black, but nobody has told me how much his 
wage is." So Mr. Rossi said to me, "$125 a month. You 
know, he is American, and if we don't pay them good wages, 
they criticize us." I said to myself, "I am in the wrong 
church. I am getting $75 a month because I am Italian and 
the other fellow's getting $125 a month because he is 
American." So Mr. Rossi must have seen the muscles in my 
face work. I didn't say anything. He was going back to 
Italy, and I said to myself I would wait his return. When 
Mr. Rossi came back from Italy, he came up to Asti. That 
was in February. With Mr. Rossi was Percy Morgan, president 



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of California Wine Association, Mrs. Morgan, and Mr. A.R. 
Morrow, general superintendent of California Wine 
Association. They came by the winery. It was chill, and 
Mr. Rossi asked me if I had an overcoat for Mrs. Morgan. 
I had a coat with cape and hood made of camel hair, long 
hair, so I handed it to Mr. Rossi, and they drove on to 
Chianti, one of the vineyards. When they came back--it 
was about five in the afternoon- -Mr . Morrow (he was a young 
fellow then) got off the big rig, with three seats with two 
horses, and said to me. "Mrs. Morgan wants to buy your 
coat." So I said, "No, my coat is not for sale." 

Well, I had the idea in my mind to resign my position, 
because I resented the fact that one because he was an 
American was getting more. I said to myself, "If I go to 
work for Americans, if Americans feel the same way, I'm 
the one that gets the benefit." So I said to Mr. Morrow, 
"No, it is not for sale, and I will not sell it." Then I 
went to the carriage and I said to Mrs. Morgan, "Mr. Morrow 
asked me to sell this coat. The coat is not for sale, but 
if you wish to accept it as a present from me, I'd be very 
happy." So she said yes. So Mr. Morrow said to me, "Any 
time you want a job, come and see me." I said to myself, 
"Well, here it's done already." So I said to Mr. Morrow, 
"I'll be coming to see you next week." So I got the job 
from Mr. Morrow. 



THE CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION, 1903-1904 



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[Laughing] When was that? 

In 1903. And so I worked around on Brannan Street then, 
all for red wines. California Wine Association had two 
big wineries, one on Third Street where the Wells Fargo 
Bank is now for white wines and head offices. Then in the 
next block all the sweet wine winery. They had several 
million gallons capacity there. All the big companies 
were concentrated in San Francisco. 

But did they actually make wine there? 

Oh, no. Just blend, store, and bottle. Most of the wine 
went out in barrels. That's the way the wine was shipped 



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in those days. Because the people bought wine in barrels. 
Now for instance Vermont was dry in those days, but you 
could ship a carload of wine to an agent; each barrel was 
marked with purchaser's name, and the agent would make 
delivery. I believe the express company shipped them. 

They had to be marked? 

Each barrel had to be marked with the individual who was 
going to receive the wine. But that was only for the dry 
states that allowed it. Some dry states like Kansas, you 
couldn't bring it in. But the big markets were Philadelphia 
and the mining countries, and Chicago, New York, and Boston. 
Those were the big markets in those days. So was New 
Orleans, especially. California Wine Association was the 
big company. They carried some 35 million gallons of wine 
on hand . 

Did most of their wine go to California, or did most of it 
go east? 

Oh, most went east. Every company, most of their wine went 
east. 

What was your first job, then, with Mr. Morrow? What did 
you do there? 

Receiving the wine and transferring into storage. The 
wine would come in puncheons from the different wineries, 
unloaded on the sidewalk. We'd roll the big puncheons in, 
you know. 

[Interruption] 

How much did a puncheon hold? 

About 160 gallons. A big draying company would bring it 
in from the railroad station. 

How was it handled? 

The dray age trucks would bring the puncheons from the 
railroad. They had low beds less than a foot off the 
ground. The drayman would roll off the puncheons on the 
sidewalk. 



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Roll by hand; no effort to do that. And I would pump the 
wine into the big tanks. 

Then after that, Mr. Morrow sent me to Livermore to 
the Pioneer Winery to make wine there. 

What was the Pioneer Winery? 

That was owned by the California Wine Association. 

Had they started it, or had it been started by someone 
who then put it into the Association, do you know? 

No, I don't know that.* I made wine there and after the 
season a watchman would take care. I was there all through 
the vintage, had only one pump and one crusher with an auto 
gas engine. The pomace was pressed, then washed, and the 
wash was sent to Stockton for distillation, and the wine 
was sent to San Francisco as they needed it. California 
Wine Association would have a sample of every tank of wine 
from every winery that they got wine from. So they would 
make the blend from those samples and bring the wine 
accordingly. It was pretty hard for any other winery to 
sell any wine to a California Wine Association customer 
because California Wine Association would keep the 
continuity of the blend like nobody else could. Mr. [Charles] 
Ash,** who later, when Prohibition came, became head chemist 
of the California Packing Corporation... 

But he was with California Wine Association at that time? 

Yes. He started there as a young fellow, and then moved 
into the other company. 



*According to Winemaking in California. III. The California 
Wine Association by Ernest Peninou and Sidney Greenleaf , the 
Pioneer Winery was established by Camille Aquillon and 
Gottardo Bustelli in 1883 and later sold to the California 
Wine Association. 

**See also Charles Ash's "Reminiscences of Pre-Prohibition 
Days" in Proceedings of the American Society of Enologists, 
1952. 



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And he handled their blending? 

He was head of the laboratory where all blends were made, 
and Mr. Morrow would pass on the blends. 

I see. It was a good system? Still is, I guess, isn't it? 
It is. We have the same system. 
How long did you stay in Livermore? 

Through the vintage, and then went back to San Francisco, 
and then to see my brother in Asti. 

Which brother was this? 

Julius.* That's the oldest one. He had been transferred 
from the Italian Swiss Colony Sebastopol winery, and I was 
going to Asti for a visit with him. I was sitting next to 
a gentleman with white hair, white moustache, and pock marks, 
very handsome (his name was Nardini, I found out later), and 
he asked me where I was going. I said I was going to Asti. 
Naturally, when you said Asti, you meant wine because at 
Asti there was nobody except Italian Swiss Colony. He said, 
"Do you know anything about wine?" I said, "Yes, I'm a 
graduate winemaker." "Oh," he said, "then you are not going 
to Asti." I said, "Oh yes, I'm going to." He said, "No, 
you're not going to Asti, you're going to get off at Healds- 
burg with me. I'm Mr. Nardini of the Oliveto Wine Company. 
We're in trouble, and I want you to get off there and we'll 
telephone your brother, and if necessary we'll send you 
over by horse and buggy," because that was the transportation 
in those days. 



WINE MAKING IN HEALDSBURG, 1904-1906 



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So I got off at Healdsburg. Lorenzini had charge of the 
winery. There were three partners, [A.] Nardini, [Domenico] 
Lorenzini, and [William] Franceschini. Franaeschini had 
charge of the winery in San Francisco. Mr. Nardini was the 



*He was also sometimes called by the Italian form of his 
first name, Giulio. 



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Perelli-Minetti: salesman. He went all over the United States. They had 

two wineries, the Oliveto Wine Company, which Miss [Edith] 
Passalacqua owns now and where they store the wine for 
Paul Masson, I think. And they had about seven or eight 
hundred thousand gallons of wine, lots of wine in those days, 
all spoiled. And then they had about 3,500 barrels of 
wine throughout the United States that all had been 
rejected. So I did my best to put together a blend, 
because they were in bad with the bank, they were going 
broke. So I put together a blend (I think the first blend 
was 100,000 gallons) and sent a carload to New Orleans 
and a carload to Chicago. And the wine was highly accepted. 
And so Mr. Nardini oversold that quantity. Then after this 
blend was finished, Mr. Nardini asked me to go to Chicago. 

I went to Chicago and we opened a place on Kinzie 
Street off Fiftieth Street Bridge I think. And we got all 
the barrels that had been rejected there, and I put up a 
small tank. The wine was beautiful, but it was cloudy, 
full of sediments. I sent every day an Italian helper to 
Swift and Company to get five gallons of blood (it is the 
best clarifier) , and at night we emptied 20 barrels into 
a tank and dumped the blood in, mixed it. And by morning 
all sediments were down at the bottom of the tank, and we 
would draw the clear wine from the top. It went just like 
hotcakes; it was so beautiful, really it was. The wine was 
good. So the company made money from that point there, 
because we aold all the wine and got the money. 

Then I went back to Healdsburg to figure what to do 
with the spoiled wine that was left there. I had them buy 
2,000 or 3,000 tons of grapes, and I re-fermented all the 
wine and made a better wine than that they made from 
straight grapes. So things went up right away. The bank 
was paid. The wine was sold. And they prospered. And I 
was offered one-fourth of the company, for $7,500, to be 
paid by the dividends. I was getting there also $75 a 
month and my board . 

So I went to Mr. Rossi, because Mr. Rossi, when I 
left, said, "Any time I can be of help, any advice you 
want, come and see me, I'll be glad to give it." So I 
went to see Mr. Rossi and I explained to him my position. 
Mr. Rossi said to me, "Well, there are two alternatives 
to this one. It's up to you to decide. If these people 
are honest, then make a deal with them. They have control 



26 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser : 



of the company because they're three. They'd own three - 
fourths of the company, you'd own one-fourth. But if 
they want to keep you there and never make any dividend, 
you'd just be working the rest of your life for the wages, 
Now it's up to you to decide what to do." 

Then Simi Land Company- -Mr. Simi had died-- 
Which? There were two Simi brothers weren't there? 



Perelli-Minetti: Yes, Pietro and Joseph. 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



And both of them had died by then? 

Within a month of each other. (Pietro was in San Francisco. 
They had what they called a pint house there in San 
Francisco on Green and Dupont some place.* A fellow by 
the name of [Vincent W.] Monti was in charge.) 

I remember that the first time I went to Healdsburg, 
I went to the station. I don't remember why. There was 
an old man with sash and no stockings [laugh]. He had 
linens wrapped around, quite an old man. He lifted his 
cane, and he said, "Hey you," in Italian. He said, "You're 
the Italian that just came here; you're the new Italian 
neighbor." I said, "I don't know; I've been here just a 
week; I don't know." 

He said, "I'm going to give you an advice." He said, 
"Look at me." 

I said, "Why should I look at you for?" I said, 
"What's the reason for it?" 

He said, "Look at me." He said, "When I came to 
this country, I was young like you are now. I made up 
my mind to make money and then when I came to be fifty, 
I would quit and enjoy myself. I'm ready to die, and 
I've not been able to enjoy myself because the more money 
I made, the more slave I became." He said, "You enjoy 
yourself every day as you go along, and don't do the 
mistake I made." Within less than a month after, he died. 



*431 Green Street. 



27 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



And who was he? 

Joseph Simi, Giuseppe Simi. He had two daughters by his 
second wife. One [Elvira] married the Scatena boy [Louis] 
and he died. And the other married [Fred] Haigh. He was 
the cashier of the Sonoma Bank of which Mr. War fie Id was 
the president in charge of the bank there. She's still 
alive. 

That's Isabel? Mrs. Fred Haigh? 

Isabel. Joseph, from the first wife, had one son and one 
daughter. 

Who was the boy? 

Louis. He just drank too much. The daughter was married 
to, I think a Yugoslav.* 

Pietro had one son and two daughters, and all spent 
money like water after the father died, and got in trouble 
with the bank. One daughter of Pietro was married to a 
tailor, a Mr. Pinella, a very handsome, polished man. The 
other was married to a Mr. Krone and had a little boy, I 
remember, because I took the little boy away with me when 
his father died. 

Louis Simi lived in Healdsburg. He talked big, acted 
big, spent big, but never paid anybody. And so the Simi 
Company was in bad shape. And so, through the bank, I was 
offered a position with Simi, $250 a month. I took it 
right away because I had more prospect. Then the earthquake 
came. 



THE 1906 EARTHQUAKE 



Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 



Oh, were you in Healdsburg at the time of the earthquake? 

Yes. 

Things shook up a good deal there, didn't they? 



*Annie Simi married a man named Antonovich. 



28 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser : 
Perelli-Minetti; 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Yes, it did destroy a lot. The biggest damage the earth 
quake did was in Santa Rosa. I know it killed lots of 
people; the army shot lots of people that were caught in 
the windows, when the hotel was burning and begged to be 
shot. I forget the name of it. And Doctor [George C.] 
Pardee was governor at that time. He sent a call to the 
Masonic Hall for volunteers. I had joined recently, I 
think it was just a week or so before, so I went. Its 
headquarters were in Oakland at the hotel. Franklin 
Hotel, I think. So we met there, and we had to put on arm 
bands and hat bands. I was assigned to North Beach in 
San Francisco to take care and remove everybody from North 
Beach. I was the authority then, and the first thing I did 
was to commandeer all the boats to Oakland. 



What kind of boats were these? 



Small boats, fishing boats, 
the Japanese operated them. 



All had sails and motors and 



Weren't there a lot of Italian-owned fishing boats too? 

Yes, but maybe they weren't there, I don't know. The 
point is that in Oakland the people would be fed at the 
piers, or at the landing of the ferry boat. The Southern 
Pacific and the Santa Fe would give free ticket to any part 
of the United States and Canada, so people started leaving 
and going east. There were tremendous tables full of food 
for everybody to enjoy. The army was ready to blow up the 
gas tanks in North Beach* and I had to hurry in moving the 
people. To stop the fire the army had to blow up one 
block after another on Van Ness Avenue, where the fire was 
controlled. 

Mr. Ariberto Cora, of the Cora Vermouth- -Cor a Vermouth 
had a store on Jackson Street—he was in partnership with 
my brother Carlo. Mr. Cora, Mrs. Cora, and his sister-in- 
law, myself, and two brothers of mine moved into a penthouse 
on top of the Franklin Hotel, just a big room with all 
windows all around. 

The navy had declared courtmartial. Anybody caught 
stealing was shot on the spot and a few were killed while 



*In the end, it did not. 



29 



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trying to get the rings off of people who had been killed 
in the debris. They were shot on the spot. The cashier 
of Swiss -American Bank was shot by accident. It was a 
mistake. He did not answer the "Who goes there?" 

What was his name? 

Sartori, I think, was the name. That was one of the 
tragedies. Young fellow. He was killed, I think, on 
Sansome Street. 

How long did you stay in the city, then, on that detail? 

About two weeks . 

How long had you been with Simi by then? 

I went to Simi I think in 1905. 

So you'd been there about a year. 

No, I don't think I was a year. Maybe I was, I don't 
remember exactly. 

This was in April, 1906, that the... 

The earthquake shook and destroyed all the wineries in 
San Francisco. The wine just was lost completely. 

All of them! 

All of them. It broke the containers spilling all the 
contents. Dry wine in those days was about 11 to \2i a 
gallon wholesale. The only wine that was left was in the 
country. That which didn't belong to the companies went 
up to 28^ a gallon. Frank Schmidt had about 250,000 
gallons of wine. He had a contract with California Wine 
Association for 



Where was he making his wine? 

At his place. 

Where was that? 

Healdsburg. Louis Foppiano owns the place now. Two of my 



30 



Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



oldest children were born there. I'll come to that. 
You've seen Foppiano's new home? Louis Foppiano's new 
home? 

No. 

Right behind it is the old winery. The one we had. 



RETURN TO HEALDSBURG 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Frank Schmidt was an old man, seventy-nine years old. He 
wanted to go back to Germany, and I bought his wine, I 
think for 18-19^, something like that. California Wine 
Association boycotted him, so he decided to sell. First 
he wanted me to go and work for him. I said, "No, no." 

"I'm going to Germany, I'll leave you in charge. I 
may never come back." 

I said, "No." 

"Then I'll sell you the place." 

I said to myself, "I'd like to buy the place. How am 
I going to raise the money?" 

I bought it for $50,000; $5,000 down when the escrow 
was completed, with the understanding any money that was 
taken in by selling anything on the ranch up to $10,000 
had to be paid on account of the purchase price. 

Well, there was the $5,000 to be paid. I looked into 
the tanks; I got out about $800 worth of cream of tartar. 
There were quite a number of cows. I sold the cows. I 
think about a couple hundred head. I sold the cows for 
3 l/2i a pound on the hoof. And so I practically paid the 
$5,000. My son, Mario, has the contract framed--$50 down 
on a $50,000 purchase. 

But that isn't all of it. He told me that I could 
make mone money buying grapes and making wine. So I said, 
"What am I going to use for money?" I talked him into 
putting some money in the bank for me, so he put $25,000. 



31 



Peralli-Minetti: 






Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti; 



Authorized the bank to loan me $25,000 to buy grapes, 
giving the bank warehouse receipts for the wine. I paid 
on the purchase price only 4 per cent. 

My father said to me, "Now you're in a new country, 
why don't you brothers get all together?" I said, "Father, 
it will not work. Each one has different ideas. I have 
ideas, and then we'll have troubles." Anyway, to please 
my father, I got my two brothers in, Carl and Julius, 
then formed a corporation which Tribuno joined. Mario 
Tribune, Jack's father. 

What year was this? 

1908, I think. No, 1907, the end of 1907, because I 
married in 1908. But unfortunately, they wanted to build 
a house starting from the top; I wanted to built it from 
the bottom. They started with big ideas. We were doing 
very well, but no money and so the end. 

Were you using the Schmidt property as the basis of it? 

In a way. In San Francisco they rented a big place from 
Lawrence Scatena, [A. P.] Giannini's stepfather, for $350 
a month, which was big money in those days. And anyway, 
we stretched too much. Mario Tribuno remained in New York. 
He was top salesman for the Italian Swiss Colony in New 
York. Calafonia Malati, another partner, was top salesman 
in California also for Italian Swiss Colony. All counted 
on their salaries to operate. 

First thing, Italian Swiss Colony fired the three 
of them.* So there the wages they were getting from Italian 
Swiss Colony had to come from the new company which was 
starting. A. P. Giannini loaned us $10,000, but that was a 
drop in the bucket. So we struggled, and Tribune's 
father-in-law loaned us also $10,000, and we struggled and 
struggled and finally we had to close up. But if I had 
been by myself, I'd probably be still in Healdsburg. As 
they say in Italy: not all bad things hurt you. Anyway, 
we folded up and I left the ranch with just my shirt, and 
went to Mexico. 



*Julius Perelli-Minetti, Tribuno and Malati. 





Antonio Perelli-Minetti 
Healdsburg, California, 190? 



Antonio Perelli-Minetti and 
son Mario, about 1910. 




Left to right: Fred Perelli-Minetti, Antonio 
Perelli-Minetti, Antonio Perelli-Minetti, Jr., 
Conchita Perelli-Minetti Harrison, Mario Perelli- 
Minetti. About 1970. 



32 



Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 



Let me ask a little more about what happened to the 
wineries in Healdsburg at the time of the 1906 earthquakes. 
Was the Simi winery damaged? 

No, none of the wineries were damaged in Sonoma County. 

And not Asti either? 

No. 

By the time you left the Simi winery was it going well 
again? 

Oh yes. When I bought the ranch, I still remained with 

Simi. 

Oh, you were working with them too? 

Oh yes, I was operating their winery too. They too paid the 
bank. Paid the bank back- -cleared it up completely. 

Then did you turn over operation to Fred Haigh finally, or who? 

I turned it to the family. Fred Haigh wasn't married then. 
In November, when we had to fold up, I immediately went 
to Mexico. 

Who continued with the Simi winery? Do you know who handled 
the operation? 



Perelli-Minetti: No, I imagine Isabel. 

I understand she lost a daughter. She went to Stanford. 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Yes, she was a friend of mine. Vivien. As I understand 
it, Isabel is still running it. Still continuing.* 

Oh yes. She's just like her mother. Her mother was paralyzed. 
They had two wineries in Healdsburg there. 

The one down on Front Street too? 



*In May 1970 Mrs. Isabel Haigh sold the winery to Russell 
H. and Betty Jean Green. 



33 



Perelli-Minetti; 

Teiser: 

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Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
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Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 
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The one in front of their old house where the family used 
to live. And Mrs. Simi pretty near killed herself because 
I closed the winery there. 

Oh, you closed the one on Front Street? 

Yes, because there was no sense, keeping both the wineries. 

That's a good building out on the highway, isn't it? Was 
that the one you operated? 

The big one, Montepulciano, the one on the hill. And I 
replanted the whole vineyard. 

What grapes were you growing in that area then? 

That's the unfortunate thing of the Prohibition. California 
had the best wines. The wines that we had in California 
those days, you couldn't match any place. Why, they made 
the wines in Europe look like two cents. In Torino in "98, 
it was not hard to get the Gold Medal for the Italian Swiss 
Colony. But in Paris, the French wouldn't stand for it. 
So my father, who spoke fluent French and was one of the 
judges, insisted that there be a division: European wines, 
and the other side of the Atlantic. And Italian Swiss 
Colony got the first Gold Medal there too. 

Was that for all their wines, or just certain ones? 

All wines were exhibited, yes. 

Not, for example, the way here, at a State Fair... 

Oh that, that's a joke. Italian Swiss Colony in Asti had 
those tunnels into the hill, where they kept all the 
white wines, beautiful wines--aged properly—and also the 
reds. And those were the ones exhibited. 



Are they still there? 

The tunnels are there [laughing] 
there, I would think not. 



Whether the wine is 




33a 
Torino, 17 ottobre 1967 



CCA DEM I A ITALIAN A 
-LA V1TE E DEL VINO 

SI EN A 






IL PRESIDENTS 



Caro Signer Perelli Minetti, 



Con molto piacere ho ricevuto la Sua lettera del 10 corr. e 
subito Le rispondo. 

Anzitutto per le interessanti notizie che Ella mi da sull'im= 
piego della Pigiatrice Sernagiotto (Le dire che il 'oomedell 'invento= 
re e state il mio primo Maestro di Viticoltura, e il padre mio compa= 
gno di studi alia Scuola Snologica di Alba, dove allora insegnava il 
padre: anno 1901-1905!). 

Venendo all 'argomento del Primitive j= Zij?rfandl_er (non Zinfan= 
del) i Le diro francamente che non sono tronpo persuaso di tale iden= 
tita. Per quanto ne so io trattasi di vitigni different!. II gxiaio 
si e che sul Zierfandlgr non sono d'accordo nemmeno gli ampelografi 
tedeschi e ungheresi. Chi lo dice sinonimo del Vel tliner rosso, chi 
^ e l 5yl\ r _aner_ jr£sso. . . Nessuno pero lo dice eeuale al Kadarkas. 

Corrunqxie, non mi pare che si possa affermare che lo Zierfandler 
non sia ^-he il nostro Primitive. 

Io debbo pensare che questo sia stato importato in California 
da qualche emigrate pugliese, e che costi qualcuno gli abbia affib= 
biato il nome di Zi^erJTandler, gia costi importato dal 1 'Ungheri a da 
cniel cr»rto Colonnello. Non sarebbe certo il prime case! 

Ma in materia d'ampelograf ia, specialmente dove, come in Cali= 
forni.i, 51 sono importati vitigni da ogni Paese-, c'e da perdere la 
testa! 



33b 



'-v '•' 

' * •" 

Mi spiace di non poterle dire nulla di piu -precisb. Ma 

v£\\ .-*••• ••:'* 



dalla letteratura ampelografica tale omonomia non i 

Voglia intanto gradire i miei piu cordiali salutT; 

Suo 

(G. Dalmasso) 







34 



AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN GRAPE VARIETIES 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



What happened during Prohibition, all the delicate grapes 
that made the best wine would not ship, so the grower who 
had those varieties was forced to pull them out and plant 
prunes or something else--Alicante Bouschet and other tough- 
skinned grapes that would ship, and some Zinfandel that 
would ship — some Carignane and some Zinfandel that would 
stand the transportation to New York and Chicago. Those 
were the varieties grown, and the grower who had inferior 
grapes made money. The ones that had the best varieties 
had to pull them out. 

What varieties were you growing in Healdsburg before, then? 

In the black grapes, first of all, was the Zinfandel, that 
was the number one in acreage. We had Petite Sirah, 
Carignane, and some Mataro, and that's practically all of 
the black grapes. In the white, Burger, which was the 
cheapest grape. Now it's a high priced grape. Its wine 
was called Hock, that the Germans bought. 

We don't make that in California any more do we, or we 
don't call it that? 

No. Now it's called chablis. Sauvignon grapes, different 
Sauvignons, and Rieslings and a number of other white 
varieties were planted, and made beautiful white wines. 
So all those grapes wouldn't ship. 

And speaking of grapes, I went to Italy two years 
ago, and Brindisi and all that country there has Zinfandel. 
They call it Primitive. So I wrote to Professor [G.] 
Dalmasso, head of the Academy of the Wine and Viticulture 
of Italy, asking what was the original name of Primitive, 
because some books I have found mentioned "Zierfandler." 
I imagined that was reduced to "Zinfandel" in California. 
But the Primitive (Zinfandel) of Italy goes back before 
the Zinfandel came over here. Professor Dalmasso said 
they can't find any records, and probably it was brought to 
California from Italy, because the Primitive there is an 
old wine, before viticulture started in California, and 
some Italian immigrants could have brought the cuttings, as 
is customary by many. 



35 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Here is the letter from Professor Dalmasso.* He said 
this: [translating] "Coming back to the Primitive, 
Zierfandler (not Zinfandel) , I'll be frank that I am not 
very satisfied with such identity for what I believe are 
different vines. The trouble is that on the Zierfandler 
I am not in harmony with the German and Hungarian 
ampelographists. Probably it is synonymous of a Veltliner 
red or Sylvaner red. Not everyone considers it equal to 
the Kadarkas." (I don't know what that is.) "Be as it may, 
it does not appear that the Zierfandler is our Primitivo. 

"I would think that the importation to California 
must have been by some Italian that emigrated there, and 
that the name has been changed from that imported from 
Hungary by the colonials. But in matters of ampelography, 
especially where, like in California, wines from all 
countries have been imported, it is simply a headache! 
Sorry I cannot be more precise, but from reading the 
ampelographic description it does not appear to be the 
same. " 



Teiser : 



Perelli-Minetti: 



As a matter of fact, the Zinfandel here and the 
Zinfandel there which in Italy is called Primitivo. it's 
the same vine. I'm trying to import some from over there 
for this reason: that the Zinfandel here will not stand 
the climate from Livingston down. The first crop just 
rots. Now in Italy, in the boot of Italy, 30 per cent 
of the vines are Zinfandel. That means several hundred 
thousand tons. It's quite a large quantity. It produces 
well and does not rot. It could have acquired a resistance 
that if maintained here would be very valuable. 

Your daughter** mentioned that you were a member of the 
Accademia Italiana delle Vite e del Vino, Siena, the 
academy of which Professor Dalmasso was president when he 
wrote you. You were elected to that? 



Well, I found my name on their list, 
got there. 



I don ' t know how I 



*The letter, from Giovanni Dalmasso of the Accademia 
Italiana delle Vite e del Vino, Siena, is dated Torino, 
17 October, 1967. 

**Jean Perelli-Minetti 



36 



Teiser : 



Your daughter was saying that there are very few outside 
of academic people in it. Is that right? 



Perelli-Minetti: Well, [Joseph] Di Giorgio was one. 

Now whether [Agoston] Haraszthy brought the Zinfandel 
from Italy, or brought it from Hungary, or where the 
Italian came from we don't know. In 1926 I spent one 
month in Hungary but could find out nothing about Zinfandel. 

One day I told Mr. Joseph Di Giorgio about a grape 
vine whose fruit matured in May. He was very much 
interested in it. The owner had two vines in front of his 
house, but he would not sell the cuttings, and threatened 
to kill anyone trying to steal them. So Mr. Di Giorgio 
said, "Tony, if you go to Europe, can you find the vine?" 
I said, "Sure, I can find the vine." 

Teiser: Where was it that these two vines were? 
Perelli-Minetti: Right across from our house, in Delano. 

So I went to Italy. I left here on the 26th of June 
1926 for Paris. I figured from the vine 
more or less the family that it would belong to. And 
from Paris I went to Alba, because the professor of 
viticulture I had in Conegliano, Professor Sannino, was 
teaching there. I talked to him, and he said evidently 
it must belong to the family of the Chasselas, the one 
that I figured out. He said, "You're very lucky because 
the agricultural commission of Hungary was here last week, 
so I'll give you a letter of introduction to the head of 
the commission in Budapest. You can see him, because the 
Chasselas are the predominating vines of Hungary and some 
place in Africa. But I think in Hungary probably you will 
find it better." 

So I went to Hungary, and I got in touch with the 
Baron de Barosch. He was secretary of the commission. Mrs. 
Mabel Willebrandt secured for me from Washington a letter 
that made me practically an envoy of the American Department 
of Agriculture. In Hungary, I saw the vice president, the 
minister of the treasury, and the minister of agriculture. 
Hungary was very poor then, at least after the war, as you 
know. With the manager of the commission, and the minister 
of agriculture, we left Budapest at six in the morning, and 



37 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



by 10 a.m. reached a town with a Magyar name that I couldn't 
pronounce. When we arrived at the station, we were met 
by a couple of automobiles and taken to a home, beautiful 
house, in this little town. There we were served lunch, 
beautiful lunch. There were, I remember, four beautiful 
Hungarian girls in typical dress to serve at the table. 
After lunch, we went in a narrow cart with two wicker 
seats facing each other, drawn by two mules, one in the 
track, one on the outside, the driver standing, and one 
fellow on foot trotting alongside of the mules for several 
miles. We arrived at the estate, and there wasn't a grape 
on the vine at all. They had all dropped. Colure. 

What? 

Colure. When the berry doesn't fertilize, due to cold 
ground mostly. Some blame rain, but it wasn't due to the 
rain only, because I could explain that in Ukiah during 
flowering it rained for over a month steadily and fecundation 
took place under the cap. 

We went through the vineyard and then came to a spot 
which was sandy. The vines had grapes. So I explained to 
them, "You have no drainage. You have no air in the soil." 
It was very compact. "The roots breathe like anybody else, 
and unless you have air in the soil--" 

I made a sketch of a drainage. As it drains it draws 
in air, which is its principal function. Some people think 
it is the water that it takes out of the ground, but it 
isn't; it's the air that it pulls in. 

I was anxious to see the winery and the winemaker, and 
talk about the varieties there. I asked, "Now we go to 
the winery; it is on top of the hill?" Tremendous hill 
covered with several hundred acres of vineyards. Then we 
came to a point, there was a cut in the hill and there was 
a big door, and the cellar was carved all in the hill. 
Oh, they had a tremendous amount of wine, all white wine. 
Beautiful wines. And so they explained to me that it was 
made from two varieties, one Tutti Frutti, the other Pearl 
of Csaba (pronounced choba) , both Chasselas family. So I 
got a carload of Pearl of Csaba and Tutti Frutti and 
planted them part on our place and part on Di Giorgio "s at 
Arvin. We split the load. 



38 



Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser : 
Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



We got the first crop. I was so proud. I filled a 
box of the grapes which I was going to take right to 
[A. P.] Giannini in San Francisco. Fortunately, when I 
got to the bank, I looked at the grapes. They had turned 
brown; the contact bruised them and turned them brown. So 
Mr. A. P. Giannini never saw the grapes. Because I was 
going to make a point on a big loan from him. That gave 
me cold feet and I didn't. We planted those vines and 
then we had to take them out. Didn't result economically. 

And you couldn't tell if it was the same stock? 

Oh, they were the same grapes, the Pearl of Csaba. This 
fellow with the Pearl of Csaba had a little vineyard in 
Arkansas, and when he came to California, he brought the 
cuttings with him. 

In Hungary I couldn't find any Zinfandel. I looked 
all over, but I couldn't find any. And there is no 
Zinfandel there, so I was told at this winery. So the 
question now arises whether Zinfandel comes from Italy or 
comes from Hungary, or comes from where? The question is 
that there's more Zinfandel in Italy than California ever 
had planted. Even at the highest point. 

But they don't know where Italy's came from? 

No, because Dr. Dalmasso, head of the academy, could not 
tell me. He has published many books. He published one 
book, three volumes, I gave it to [Lewis S.] Rosenstiel 
as a present. Most beautiful book that you have ever 
seen. It starts back a million years ago, and tells 
step by step, the history of the grape, with illustrations 
and correlated pictures. You see the grape in all the 
monuments in Europe and the world. 

When they replanted some of the vineyards in Europe after 
the phylloxera here, do you think any cuttings could have 
been taken to Italy? 

The phylloxera started in Europe when the Count of 
Klostenberg, a lieutenant in an Austrian torpedo boat, 
came to the Hudson. He was a collector of vines, and he 
saw these beautiful vines on the Hudson River banks, and 
took cuttings to Europe that brought the phylloxera too, 
that spread all over Europe, destroying all vineyards. 
On those vines, the phylloxera was visible on the leaves. 



39 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



They finally grafted European vines on American stocks? 

The theory in Europe was that if those vines had resis 
tance to phylloxera, grafting was the answer. Then came 
crossing, which produced hybrids. Zinfandel in Southern 
Italy antedates the phylloxera. 

In Europe, as a rule, even now they stick to the 
varieties they have cultivated for generations. In Europe, 
during the centuries of grape planting, time has indicated 
the best variety for the locality, and they stick to it. 

In California we don't do that. We plant Zinfandel 
in Ukiah, we plant Zinfandel in Southern California, we 
plant Zinfandel through the central valley. We don't give 
a darn for quality, whether it's good or not. 



EXPERIMENTAL PLANTINGS 



Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser : 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser : 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 



[Showing a paper] These are the plots on the big ranch 
that we sold to Lanza.* See, all these are different 
varieties. This is the collection of Italian varieties. 
Tried every one of them, trying to find something that was 
adapted to this part to make the wine comparable to the 
northern type of wine. That is my object. 

This says "Collection of vines from Barletta, Italy." You 
sent there for those? 

Yes. Now this Hungarian collection, Mattias collection-- 
Mattias was the Burbank of Hungary. He died and left his 
collection to the state. The minister of agriculture 
allowed me the varieties; there were some ninety. 

What about the twenty? 

That's the number of cuttings I got from each variety. 

This was in 1926? 

Yes, 1926. So here shows all the experiments... [Turning 
pages] 

1930.. 



*Horace 0. Lanza 



40 



Perelli-Minetti 
Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti; 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
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Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti; 

Teiser: 



All the results, the changes... [turning pages]. That 
was when I was with California Grape Products, Tribune. 

[Reading] Mario P. Tribune, A. Perelli-Minetti, and 
Victor Repetto was secretary. That's a nice letterhead. 
Good pictures of your plants. 

Now this is the complete collection of Portuguese vines. 
In 1942? 

Yes. Dr. [H.P.] Olmo called me on the phone — this was 
just when the war started—and said to me, "Tony, I've 
got these varieties here and I know you'll like them, and 
I have no place to plant them. Would you plant them in 
your vineyard?"* 

I said, "Send them down." I still have all these 
varieties. 

They all worked? 

Well, I planted Tinto cao, Tinta amarella. I planted 
commercially all the varieties that were best in Portugal. 
And some growers think that they brought them, but they 
didn't. We grafted all those cuttings from Portugal in 
front of my house. They're still there. 

Just experimental plantings? 

That's right. Some rows have two varieties, some, one for 
the whole row. 

You're not using any of these commercially now? 

No, we tried them commercially and we had to take them out. 

When you try a new grape commercially, how much do you 
have to plant of it in order to give it a real test? 

Well, one vine is enough. 

And you can find out in the lab from that? 



*See also p. 141. 



41 



Perelli-Minetti : 



Teiser : 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



As for the wine, yes. But if the vine is from seed you 
have to find out in the field. You know, unfortunately, 
you have to wait about five to six years to make sure that 
there's no throwback. And many of the varieties which we 
planted, that were developed here on the place, varieties 
that we thought were beautiful — then within the fourth or 
fifth year they started to throw back and completely went 
back to what parents it had in the making of that variety. 

Have you developed some successfully, however? 
Yes, we have. We have about 350 acres now. 
Of your own varieties? 

Yes. The way I do it, I go right through the vineyard 
every day when the grapes are maturing, and if you pay 
attention you find in some bunches a berry or two 
different from the others, or you find one berry that's 
outstanding, a white berry on a black grape. I pick that 
berry, and I plant those seeds. Then as soon as feasible 
I graft it on an old vine, and then the next year I get 
some crop. Well, I've been doing that for thirty-five 
years here on the place. And that's how I get our vines. 
If you cross-breed by pollinization, what have you? You 
take the varieties that are known already--! want to get 
away from those. Get some variety that comes from nature 
and that has proven safe from throwback. And the throwback 
could happen also in the one that you do by pollinization. 
It's a slow process. Each grower has a chance to improve 
his vineyard if forced by economical reasons, which is the 
most incentive thing that you've got. 

Now in California we don't do that. We pay no attention 
to where the grapes come, how the grapes have been pruned, 
how the grapes have been cultivated. In Europe, you do. 
If you plant a little tobacco among the vines to fertilize 
your crop, you don't sell it at a good price and the grower 
stops doing it. Over here he can put anything he wants, 
as long as he gets a big crop, because he sells it at the 
same price. Now the soil between here and Fresno is so 
different that it would make a different wine, but such 
finesse is not to be considered at this time, which will 
come in time when we have a public that knows what it's 
buying, quality. The public today buys the label, doesn't 
give a damn what's inside the bottle because it does not 



42 



Perelli-Minetti: 



know the difference. And we sell the label, and that's an 
unfortunate thing. Before Prohibition, people bought 
quality. The label had a relative meaning because they 
bought the wine for its quality, and knew it. 



LAST PRE -PROHIBITION AND FIRST POST-REPEAL ENTERPRISES 



Teiser : 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Were there any varieties which you grew before Prohibition 
in the Healdsburg area which are no longer grown at all? 

I could not say positively; very likely Mataro is gone, also 
the Petite Sirahs. 

Did you have much land with the Schmidt property? 

We had the 700 acres and then we bought another 50 acres, 
and we planted about 70 additional acres. We bought 
resistant vines through Georges de Latour, who was selling 
resistant, grafted vines. We got a bad deal because the 
callusness was fresh of that same year, and we lost a large 
amount of money, as the vines after planting broke off at 
the graft. 

You had everything go wrong! 

Not wrong, but conditions against our control. A heavy 
frost on the 28, 29 and 30 of May wiped out the crop. Not 
a berry was left, and too late for a second crop. And 
maybe that was a stimulus. 

When the company closed, the day Bill [Perelli-Minetti] 
was born, I left for Mexico. All I had was $80 in my pocket. 
In three years in association with Don Miguel Cardenas, 
ex-governor of Coahuila, I had the largest vineyard in the 
republic—over 800 acres. Then the revolution started. I 
fought to preserve the vineyard but had to give up. I 
returned to California and started with Tribune,* built the 
Ukiah plant and was doing extremely well when—bang! 
Prohibition! 

After Prohibition was repealed, I was going to build 
a little winery. Mr. George Wallace came to me, "Well, 
I 'm a rich man, I've large vineyards"--he had 600 acres — 
"Why don't we put the winery on my place?" And I said, 



*Domenico Tribune. See p. 56. 



43 



Perelli-Minetti: "All right, I'll join; we'll go 50-50, in the equipment." 

Knowles, who represented Redwood Industrial California 
Corporation of San Francisco, wanted to sell us the 
cooperage. I said to Mr. Knowles, "I need a half a 
million gallons of cooperage. I have no money, not a 
dime, but I'll pay you as we sell the wine." And Mr. 
Wallace said, "I'll do the same." Mr. Knowles answered 
he could not make a sale on those terms but had to consult 
the company. 

"If they say all right, well, you have the cooperage; 
if they say no, you don't have the cooperage." 

I said, "All right, very well." So this was a Friday. 
He said, "I'll come back next Wednesday." The following 
Wednesday, he came back. Mr. Wallace came up from Los 
Angeles. He was supposed to be a millionaire. He had 
made money in the cracking of gasoline, or something, of 
an invention. 

"Well, Mr. Knowles, what's the verdict?" Mr. Knowles 
said, "We have gone through your record Mr. Perelli-Minetti, 
and the company feels that you're entitled, because when 
you lost the property in Healdsburg, not one of your people 
took anything away. It was a legitimate loss, for lack of 
capital. So you have the half million gallons cooperage, 
and you pay when you sell the wine. Mr. Wallace, you pay 
cash." 

Mr. Wallace said, "Why? I'm a rich man." 

"The more reason you pay cash," replied Mr. Knowles. 

Then I jumped in. I said, "How about me taking the 
whole million gallons?" He said, "Yes, you can have the 
million gallons." So all the cooperage belonged to me. 
Wallace had the building, I had the cooperage. But we 
split it half and half, and he paid me. I paid the company 
for the cooperage from the sale of the wine. We made money 
there.* 



*This winery, then called the Wallace Winery, was later 
owned by Delano Growers Cooperative. See also p. 64. 



44 



MEXICO, 1910-1917 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



After you had closed the business up so neatly in Healdsburg 
earlier, you went to Mexico. How did you happen to decide 
to go to Mexico? 

In 1902 Evanisto Madero, the father of Francisco I. Madero, 
came to Asti. I remember he put his arm around my shoulder, 
and he said, "You come with me to Mexico. You'll make a 
fortune there." He said, "Why stay here for $75 a month?" 
(He asked me what I was making.) He said, "We have a big 
wine business; you come to Parras." That's the town where 
the Madero family lived, and lives. That was the first 
winery built on the American continent. A room the size of 
this. 

Twenty by twenty? 

I don't think it was even twenty by twenty. That was the 
Marques de Aguayo built the winery back in the 1670' s, 
something like that time, by concession of the King of 
Spain. Later, when we had the winery at Healdsburg, the 
Schmidt winery, a Mr. Arredondo Cepeda of Cuatro 
Cienegas, who was the biggest vineyardist in Mexico in 
those days, asked me if we could have the son Jesus 
come there on the weekends (he went to UC School of 
Agriculture) and practice on our place. I said, "Sure." 

Later Mr. Arredondo Cepeda came to visit us. In those 
days we bought grapes for $8 a ton. He said, "You're crazy 
to stay here. We're selling grapes for 250 pesos a ton, 
which is $125. Why don't you come to Mexico? Why don't 
you come to Mexico?" 

It was 1909 when the son came up. I said to myself, 
"Well, I've a connection there." And in 1910 when I got 
to Torre6n, Mexico, I was met by Mr. Traverse, a young 
man, who took me to Mr. Juan Castillon, who represented the 
ex-governor of the state, who had an immense hacienda there. 
It was Traverse who had sent Mr. Cepeda to see me. He was 
managing for Don Juan Castillon a grape ranch of 50 hectares. 

The next day Don Juan Castillon invited me to his 
house where I met a young man, Jose de Bano, a viticulturist 
out of a school of Hungary, whose father was the Hungarian 
ambassador in Mexico. He had a list of haciendas given 



45 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 
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Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti 



to him by Don Porfirio Diaz to foment viticulture in 
Mexico. As I was invited by Don Arredondo Cepeda, I 
went to Cuatro Cienegas. I remember there Mr. Ferrigno 
had a big mercantile store across from Mr. Cepeda 's house, 
and in the evening we sat out on the sidewalk (Mexican 
custom), as I was a guest of Mr. Cepeda, and Italian like 
Mr. Ferrigno. 

There was a fellow wrapped up in a scrape up to his 
nose, smoking cigarettes; puffs out, and then covers 
himself. That was the first four days I was in Mexico, 
and I couldn't speak Spanish-- just a few words. He 
insisted on talking to me in Spanish. Then he got up and 
he said, "Well, it's ten o'clock, I'm going to go to bed." 
Then he spoke to me in beautiful English. "Tomorrow morning 
you'll have breakfast with me?" I said, "Yes, thank you." 

He had been educated in Boston, you said? 

Yes, at Tufts College. He was Mr. Felipe F. Cardenas. 
He told me that when he was in the second year, he used 
to teach mathematics to the first year students. And so 
he invited me to the hacienda in Ocampo. His brother had 
five million acres of land. We went on horseback all the 
time for 15 days. Five million acres. Then the revolution 
started, and Don Felipe had to get out. 

How long were you there? 

In Ocampo? 

Yes. 

I believe three or four months. Oh, yes, this was the 
prelude to get back in the wine industry. Mr. Felipe 
Cardenas, who was the brother of Miguel Cardenas, ex- 
governor, had to leave because the revolution got pretty 
dangerous for him. He was supposed to come back in a 
month. Told me to take charge of things. 

Was there a winery? 
No, a big cattle ranch. 

Before he left, he gave me a pretty tough call-down, 
and I didn't like that, but did not quit. I took it 
because he was leaving. It would have been a stupid thing 



46 



Perelli-Minetti: for me to quit, would be like holding up somebody. So I 

waited till he came back. Several months later he returned. 
I told him I was leaving. He said, "Before you leave, let 
me give you a letter for my brother. You go and see my 
brother in Saltillo; he was the ex-governor. So I went 
there, and he told me he had a big hacienda in Torreon and 
it was all in cotton and, if I wanted, to go there and plant 
grapes. I said, "Well, I'm going to Mexico City to see 
somebody else, a man by the name of Vertiz." But when I 
got to Mexico City, Don Porfirio* tried to grab him because 
he was heading the revolution party, and he ran just before 
they grabbed him. Mexico was a police state in those days. 
So I had to come back to it. 

On the way to Mexico City, in San Luis Potosl, a gentle 
man got on the train, very portly, aristocratic looking, 
sat across from me and point-blank asked me what I was doing 
in Mexico, what were my aims — in English. I told him. He 
told me that the wine business was a good business, and that 
they had good laws. I said, "You may have good laws, but, 
nobody respects them, in the wine, and you cannot develop 
a good legitimate business where frauds are going on openly." 
So when we got to Mexico City, while entering the station, 
he takes out a visiting card: Jesus Monjavas, Minister of 
Agriculture. I pretty near fainted. He said, "Tomorrow 
morning I expect you to see me at ten o'clock at my office 
and go over the wine laws." I went over the wine laws, 
same laws of Italy; they were copied from those of France 
and Italy. Mexico has good laws, but they are not enforced, 
so everybody does what they want. Even today the law means 
nothing. 

I went back to Saltillo and made a deal with Governor 
Cardenas. In 1912 I went to Fresno and from William 
Kirkman I bought a carload of vines and a carload of fruit 
trees. And I followed the cars on another train into 
Mexico. When the two cars arrived in Nonclova, the news 
came in that they had killed President Madero.** I said 
to myself, "Well, there is a new trouble." I hired an 
engine and took the cars into Torreon. That was the last 



*Porfirio Diaz 

**He was shot on February 22, 1913. 



47 



Perelli-Minetti 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



freight train that ever got into Torreon for many years, 
because of Villa and the revolution. I planted 700 acres 
of vines. 

What types of vines were those? 

Oh, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and Carignane, the best vines 
Kirkman had. Also some table grapes, Muscat and Emperor, 
Thompson. But then the revolution started full blast, and 
I finally couldn't do any more, couldn't do anything. I 
started laying the foundation for the winery. Had a program 
to sell the wine, patterned on Standard Oil Company; open 
a place first in Monterrey, and keep expanding. A barrel 
house type, where people could come in and have their jugs 
filled. But the revolution—everything went to pieces. 
And then Pancho Villa--! knew him quite well. I used to 
have breakfast with him every morning. 

Where? 

In Torreon. Because, when [George] Carothers was assigned 
as special envoy of the United States to Pancho Villa, he 
was the consul in Torreon. The consul that followed was a 
fellow by the name of Barrett, head of the American Bank 
in Torreon. He got cold feet and he quickly left for the 
states, so the American consulate was left without represen 
tation and all the Americans left in a hurry. Five of us 
took over the consulate and named Isaac Hulmer the head, 
and the other four as helpers. And I was named liaison 
officer because of my Spanish and the fact that I was 
Italian. Villa hated the Americans, and I could get any 
thing because to him I was still an Italian. I spoke 
Spanish fluently. 

Were you actually an American citizen by then? 

The consulate issued me a citizenship paper. I had only 
the first papers, but then a paper is not the heart. And 
I remember one case in particular. General Scott* was 
supposed to give the ammunition to Villa. Villa had been 
assured of the ammunition, which they didn't give him; 
they betrayed him. This was before the time of the invasion 
of Villa into Columbus. 

We, from the consulate, advised Washington seven days 
before Villa entered into Columbus that Villa was going to 
go into Columbus. They withdrew the forces from Columbus, 



*General Winfield Scott 



48 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser : 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



so Villa entered there and killed 15 or 16 Americans. 
That created what was wanted, and Pershing went after 
Villa and the navy took Vera Cruz. The intention was to 
go all the way to Panama, but things worked out different. 
We joined the war in '14 or "15 I think, and that stopped. 
The U.S.A. withdrew from Verz Cruz, and withdrew from... 

You may remember the Panama Canal was opened in 1914. 
At that time, England had a big navy in the Caribbean. 
Our Congress passed a law that our ships could go through 
the canal without paying. England said, "No." We didn't 
have any navy to speak of in those days. We were just 
a small country. We went to war with England in Mexico. 
Madero was put in by the United States on condition that 
he would get the English out. Huerta came in against 
Madero to keep the English in. So it went back and forth 
'til we finally won out, and the English, which operated 
under the name of Pierson and Company, had all the oil 
lands and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec was owned practically 
by England. We couldn't fight the English navy, but we 
fought the English on the land in Mexico. That was actually 
the basis of the revolution in Mexico. The U.S.A. had sent 
a man down there by the name of Turner, who wrote all the 
books, to excite the American people. That's actually the 
history of the revolution in Mexico, the beginning. 

I interviewed John Turner's widow, Mrs. Ethel Duffy Turner.* 
What did you think of Turner's reporting? 

I thought it was factual; there is no question about that, 
those conditions] And that's the reason why my father 
didn't want me to go to Mexico. 

But you saw the conditions that he wrote of? 

Oh yes, there was no question about that. Those were the 
conditions. Now if you were on top, you loved it. But if 
you were — like a Spaniard told me, "You landed here on your 
feet." Because I was already in with big people. He said, 
"We landed on our head and then we had to turn around and 
do the best we could." 



*Ethel Duffy Turner, Writers and Revolutionists. Regional 
Oral History Office, 1967. 






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49 



(Interview #2 - May 16, 1969) 



INTERVAL IN TULARE COUNTY, 1914 

Perelli-Minetti : You remember I was talking to you about the error made in 

planting the same variety of vines all over California? 
Here is an example: In 1914, the situation in Mexico (I was 
in Torreon) got very bad, so I had to come up here. And I 
met Frank Giannini of Tulare. He was an old-timer in the 
wine business. He said, "Tony, do you know of anybody 
that could make wine for me?" Well, I don't know when I 
could get back to Mexico, and this was just about the time 
the vintage started. Naturally, money was very scarce. 
I had a wife and three children then. So I said to Frank, 
"I know a winemaker." 

"He's a good one?" 
"I think so." 

He said, "They all tell me they're good. They all 
make vinegar for me." 

"Well, I don't think I'll make vinegar for you." 
"Yes, I'm going to do it." 

So we agreed for one cent a gallon. Then he said, 
"Well, suppose you make vinegar?" I said, "How much money 
you want for me to deposit in the bank as a guarantee?" 
I didn't have a dime. 

He said, "Oh no, that's all right. If you feel like 
that, I'll take your word for it." 









Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



50 



I made the wine. And I made a dry wine containing 
18 1/2 per cent alcohol, natural fermentation. That's 
what he wanted me to make, dry wine. Mr. Beccuti, Croce- 
Beccuti,* who had good wine sales, came in from Livermore 
and bought the wine. The price of wine then was 11^ a 
gallon. Beccuti paid 19|! a gallon for that wine. So 
Giannini got excited and said, "I'm going to Fowler and 
buy 2,000 tons of Zinfandel grapes." I said, "Look here, 
Frank, these grapes are one thing. What the grapes from 
Fowler are, I don't know." "Oh," he says, "we can always 
make sweet wine out of them." 

"On that condition, all right." 

So the first carload came in. We crushed them. No 
matter what I did, all the scientific help I could give to 
help the yeast, was of no avail. We didn't have much of 
a laboratory, just alcohol analysis. So I made port and 
brandy. 

It was agreed for one cent a gallon. When the season 
was over, Frank Giannini said to me, "Now I can buy a big 
ranch." (It today is worth millions of dollars because 
it was across from the Mooney Park there on the way to 
Visalia.) He said, "I can buy that ranch for $14,000, and 
I'll finance you and you make the wine for me, and with 
the proceeds of the wine making pay for the ranch. That 
way I secure a winemaker, and whatever you get from me is 
more than enough to pay." I said, "No thanks. I'm in 
Mexico and I'm staying down there. I am sorry." That 
proves to you the difference in the grapes that Frank 
Giannini had on his ranch that could make beautiful dry 
wine and those from Fowler of the same varieties. 

Where was that? 



Perelli-Minetti: In Tulare, next to the winery. 
Teiser: What part of Tulare? 



*The 1911 San Francisco directory lists the Piemont Winery 
of Giuseppe Croce and Joseph Beccuti. 



51 



Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti 



On the way to Visalia. It's about three miles north of 
Tulare. After Repeal Petri bought the winery; later Petri 
sold it to Arakelian. Then Arakelian* sold it to this 
other group. Now it's for sale again. 

Who last owned it? 

Kirkorian,** I think. It shows to you what you can do with 
the soil. Now that soil was appropriate for those grapes 
and produced beautiful wine, 18 1/2 to 19 per cent alcohol, 
natural fermentation. The well water at the winery had 
a temperature of only 54* . It permitted us to control 
fermentation. 



That conclusively shows the difference between the 
same variety of grapes grown in a different location. 

It is a common practice to refrigerate wine during 
fermentation to prevent high temperature, and the average 
winemaker operates on the effect (rise of temperature) 
rather than on the cause that makes the temperature of 
fermentation go up: transformation of sugar into alcohol, 
etcetera, by the yeast. 

Now the yeast is very sensitive to temperature, even a 
five degree difference. In Tulare the well water was 54 
Fahr. I had 100 feet of coil in the 5,000 gallon fermenters, 
and I used a tiny flow of water to maintain the temperature 
under 70°. (The grapes were coming in at 100° to 105° Fahr.) 

You must realize that the juice boils like water in 
a kettle, and that the yeast multiplies by the billions, 
and the temperature of the must increases as rapidly as 
the yeast multiplies. Now, as it comes in contact with 
the coils, where the temperature is below that of the must, 
the yeast becomes, so as to say, paralyzed, and drops, thus 
stopping momentarily the process of changing sugar into 
alcohol, which produces roughly three and a half degrees of 
heat per point of sugar. 

In those days temperatures were higher. The grapes 
would come in at 100* -115°, and we had no trouble in 
controlling the fermentation and maintaining it at a given 
degree by the amount of water I would circulate in pipes 
about 100 feet. 



*K. Arakelian 
**Berge Kirkorian 






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52 



REMARKS ON WEATHER CHANGES 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



The weather has changed. For instance, before the earth 
quake, in Healdsburg, it would snow in the valley; some 
four or five inches would fall. That does not happen any 
more now. The summer was as hot as it is here in the 
valley. In those days before the 1906 earthquake, the 
city dammed the Russian River just by the railroad bridge, 
producing in the middle of the river a big lake. A dancing 
platform was built where all the young people went dancing 
and the families would be in launches all around it. So 
we were dancing up there and the families just were looking. 
And we'd be in shirtsleeves 'til two o'clock in the morning. 
And warm. Because the nights were warmer then. 

On Saturday nights the farmers would come in town 
and tie the rigs at the plaza railing. They would shop and 
then about eleven o'clock go down to the river, and after 
the dance would start back home, maybe take six, seven 
hours to get back. They came from Alexander Valley, from 
Dry Creek, from many places around, most in wagons. And 
to make eight, ten miles or fifteen miles was quite a long 
way. 

Then the earthquake came. You couldn't sit in the 
plaza in Healdsburg with an overcoat, it was so cold. The 
fog--you couldn't see yourself from here to over therej 
Before you could go any place, to San Francisco, to Eureka, 
and you'd seldom see a speck of fog in the winter. Now 
it's so foggy that it kills. And I remember well, I think 
it was a Norwegian ship, was coming into San Francisco and 
landed about 18 miles south of San Francisco and went 
aground there because they were sailing by instruments. 

The weather changed . . . 

And it has been changing right along. I remember in 1914, 
I asked Mr. Frank Giannini, "Where is Tulare Lake?" He 
said," It's over there," said I should go and see it. "All 
right, I'll get me a horse." And I went horseback and I 
travelled all day, couldn't find the lake. So when I came 
back, he laughed and said, "Well, I got one on you this 
time." I said, "I've been looking all over. Where is the 
lake?" He said, "There used to be a lake. When I came here 
there was a hull of a ship still there. They used to go 
from Alpaugh, which is four miles away from here, by water 
to San Francisco. From here they would go to Los Banos, 



53 



Perelli-Minetti: 



then by the San Joaquin River and through the Sacramento 
River into San Francisco. Did you know that? Then that 
later dried up." 

And the temperature in those days would get up to 
about 114°. We have had at Delano a temperature of 120°. 
I think one time it was a little higher than that. At 
night the vines would smell like fire had gone through, 
just burning, and the leaves would curl up. When I first 
came here. 



BACKGROUND OF DELANO ENTERPRISES 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



I came here in 1922, but I started the vineyard in 1924. 
And the reason I came to Delano was one of those things 
that happen in life. Mr. Mario Tribune was going to 
Europe, and on the boat was Mr. Di Giorgio. They knew 
of each other but had never met.* 

This Mr. Tribune is the father of... 

Of John. He was the godfather of my oldest son Mario,** 
who is an attorney, graduated from Stanford University. 
Five of my children graduated from Stanford, all born in 
California, while Conchita was born in Mexico. Jean, the 
youngest girl, graduated in law from Cornell. Fred (we 
call him "BZ") joined the air force and service, stationed 
in England . 

He was then seventeen. He wanted to join the army, 
but his mother refused to give the consent. One day, I 
met him casually in San Francisco. It surprised me, as I 
thought him in school, and I asked him what he was doing in 
San Francisco. He said, "I'm going to get registered and 
go to war." I said, "Does your mother know?" He said, "No, 



*For a continuation of this account, see p. 54. 

**Mario Perelli-Minetti is vice president and general 
manager of the California Wine Association. 



54 



Perelli-Minetti: 



but nobody can say no now because I'm of age, 18." So 
he went in. And we got a report, a telegram from 
Washington he had been killed in action. He was a 
bomber plane navigator of a B-29. But he wasn't killed, 
he had his skull split. He was a month or so in the 
hospital. He was unconscious a long time. Funny part of 
life. The nurse who was taking care of him, an old Irish 
woman, said to BZ, "I have 160 acres in Delano, in your 
town. How much is it worth?" He said, "I don't know 
anything about that. Write to my father." And she wrote 
to me that some Frenchman offered her $15 an acre. Before 
I answered the letter I consulted Mr. Billings at the 
California Bank. "Lawrence," I said, "this woman is taking 
care of my son," and I showed him the letter, "How much 
is that land worth?" 

"Today that land is worth $50 an acre." So I told 
the Frenchman, "You want the land?" He said, "Yes." 

"It'll cost you $50 an acre." 
"Oh," he said, "I won't pay that." 

"All right, if you don't want to pay" (it was Tuesday), 
"you have until Thursday morning at 12 o'clock. If you 
are not here at the bank to pay, the land will be sold." 
I would have bought it if he refused because, you know, 
the way she took care of my son, I couldn't let her sell 
the land for $15 an acre. And he looked at me, "You old 
son of a bitch!" I said, "Don't mind. You pay the $50 
and I will forget about that." So he paid the $50. The 
woman was paid $8,000 for the land. She wrote me a nice 
letter thanking me for what I had done for her. If I had 
bought the land, I might have been criticized, you know, 
but I didn't so... 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



I think I interrupted you as you were speaking of Mr. 
Tribune and Mr. Di Giorgio meeting. 

Yes, they met on that steamer and Di Giorgio said, "I 
should like to have a winery down on our place. Why 
don't you put the winery in Delano? Or in Arvin?" Mr. 
Tribune said, "I don't know anything about that. You see 
Tony when you get back to California, whatever you and 
he do is all right with me." I was in Pacific Grove with 
the family when Di Giorgio (whom I did not know then) phoned 
he wanted to see me. (In the meantime I had received a 



55 



Perelli-Minetti 



letter from Tribuno.) I said, "Well, I can meet you in 
Ukiah." 

"Fine, because I'll have to go to Ukiah Saturday." 
'Veil, we'll meet in Ukiah then." 

There we pulled out some grape boxes to sit on. Young 
Tribuno (that's Mario Tribune's younger brother Domenico) 
was there too. After going over the matter of a winery 
in Delano or Arvin, Di Giorgio said, "Why don't you come 
down and see Delano?" This was in August. I said, "All 
right, you make the date, and I'll meet you there." 

"Well, Labor Day we're going to go down to Arvin, so 
we'll meet in Bakersfield on that day." 

It was so hot, my God, you can't believe it. Mr. 
Di Giorgio, that is Joseph Di Giorgio, was telling me how 
much better Arvin was, but as I checked on the soil of 
Delano and Arvin and looked at grapes in both places, I 
said to myself, "What made me go to Ukiah?" I told Mr. 
Di Giorgio that I would only put a winery in Delano, 
because we were in the wine business and Delano soil would 
produce better grapes by far. 

But I'll tell you the story why we went to Ukiah. 
Because we made money in Ukiah. 



CALIFORNIA GRAPE PRODUCTS IN URIAH AND DELANO 



Teiser: 



That's going back a little isn't it? Did you go to Ukiah 
just after you returned from Mexico? 



Perelli-Minetti: That's right. 

Teiser: What year did you return from Mexico? 

Perelli-Minetti: January 1, 1917. You want that story now? 

Teiser: Yes. 

Perelli-Minetti: As I was going to the hotel between trains in San Francisco 

(my wife and children were living with her parents in 



56 



Perelli-Minetti: Healdsburg) , I met young Tribune, Domenico. He said, 

"When did you get here?" 

"Just now." 

"I'm glad to see you. I need a man to help me." 

"What is involved?" 






"T I 



I'm buying wine for my brothers and I cannot do it 
alone. I need somebody else to help me." 

"Well, we'll split the profit, whatever we make;" 
thus we joined hands. 

We called on Louis Pagani in Glen Ellen to buy some 
wine. He brought out a beautiful glass of wine. But as 
he opened the door of the winery, the smell of vinegar 
would knock anybody down. 

I said, "Louis, we can't afford to buy your wine 
because, you know—it is a beautiful wine, but you would 
put some of your vinegar in each barrel and spoil it. 
But tell you what we will do: we will buy the vinegar." 
He said, "What are you going to do with it?" I said, "We 
are going to make wine out of it." 

"In that case I want to come in as partner." 

"All right. You put up the winery and $12,000. When 
we use up your $12,000, then we use my $12,000 and when 
my $12,000 are used up, we'll use Domenico 's $12,000." 

Neither I nor Domenico had $10 apiece. Domenico was 
trembling. I said to him, "Please keep quiet." So we 
made the deal with Pagani. We made $18,000 apiece net 
profit. We never used Pagani 's $12,000, because as fast 
as we made the wine, we sent it to New York to Tribune's 
brother. We paid three cents a gallon for the spoiled 
wine to Pagani, and with a couple of thousand tons of 
grapes we made a good wine that Mario Tribuno sold for 
26<< per gallon. 

There was a friend of ours in Kenwood who said to us, 
"I know where you can buy good wine and where you can buy 
a winery too." He was from Ukiah. 



57 



Perelli-Minetti: On the way to Ukiah we bought all the spoiled wine of 

four or five small wineries, also the cooperage of some of 
them. We took it to Ukiah where we had made a deal with 
Mr. Gobbi, buying all his wine, part of which was very good 
and part spoiled. We bought grapes, refermented the spoiled 
wine, and made good wine of it. 

Then Prohibition came, 1920. The vintage of 1919 was 
the last vintage officially open to make wine. We couldn't 
find any labor or men at that particular time. In those 
days I think [Raffaello] Petri used to buy every grape 
over there, so that year he wouldn't buy any more, as he 
could not see what to do with the wine. 

I saw my opportunity and called a meeting of all the 
growers. The meeting was attended by a grape shipper whom 
I knew to be not so honest. I got in an argument with him 
and his strong man bodyguard, and I almost got in a fist 
fight. Mr. Schmidt, city mayor, acted as chairman of the 
meeting and favored my proposition. 

I said, "We have no money. We are not going to buy 
the grapes. Nobody's going to buy the grapes and offer 
you cash. We'll offer 100 gallons of dry wine for each 
ton of grapes you deliver to the winery. But the surplus 
is ours as compensation for making the wine. We stand all 
the costs of making and disposing of the wine. We'll 
guarantee you more money than you've been receiving before, 
maybe $5, maybe $10 more a ton." Well, every pound of 
grapes in the Ukiah Valley and the Redwood Valley came to 
our winery. 

French-American Company had a big winery which is 
now part of, I think, the Guild. So, French-American 
winery was for sale, and a group of growers had the option 
to buy it. The option would expire a certain day at noon. 
At that hour Shakes, president of the French-American 
Wine Company, was there at the bank, and he said to the 
growers, "Well, gentlemen, it's twelve o'clock. Is it yes 
or no?" 

"No," answered the growers. 

That morning I had agreed with Shakes that if the 
growers did not buy the winery I would buy it. The price 
was $7,500, or one half cent a gallon if I rented it. Well, 



58 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser : 



we crushed some 11,000 tons of grapes and made close to 
two million gallons of wine, which meant more rent than 
the purchase price, so I bought it. 

Time was pressing. The wine was drawn from the 
fermenters directly into the barrels and shipped as fast 
as could be, and returned 35^ a gallon net to the grower, 
or $35 per ton. 

Where were you shipping it? 



Perelli-Minetti: To Tribune, Senior, in New York. 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



It could still be sold at that time? 

Yes, oh yes. That's why we took it out of the fermenting 
tanks, because on the 20th of January Prohibition went into 
effect, and we could not take a chance to have wine left 
over. Well, every grower agreed to have his money after 
the wine arrived in New York except a few growers who said, 
'Veil, we don't know. We have to wait "til the wine is 
sold, two, three weeks. You give us $25 now before the 
wine is shipped . " 

"All right, let's go to the bank." And I called Mr. 
Mario Tribune, "I've got" (I think it was) "about 3,500 
tons of grapes. We can make $35,000 or $10 a ton, as these 
growers prefer $25 now than $35 later. Can you send the 
money tomorrow? $75,000, $80,000?" 

He said, "You'll have the money tomorrow morning in 
the bank." Then I said to Charlie Mannon, president of 
the bank, "Charlie, I want you to bear witness to this. 
These people here, they're clients of yours. They want to 
sell their wine for 25^ a gallon because they're afraid to 
wait, and I don't know just what is in their mind. But I 
think they make a mistake because they're losing $10, a 
ton, and then when everybody else gets more money, I'll 
be a s.b. because they will say that I convinced them to 
sell. I'm against their sale at 25^ a gallon, which is 
against my interest. But because I want to live in Ukiah, 
and when I meet these people on the street, I want to be 

able to look them in their face " Then I said, "All 

right, tomorrow we'll meet here at the bank and we'll get 
you the money." 



59 



Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser : 

Perelli-Minetti; 
Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



In the morning they had all the warehouse receipts, 
all the weigh-tags, in their hands, and I said, "Now 
before you turn these receipts to the bank, I want to 
repeat—here is Mr. Mannon, here is the cashier of the 
bank (a fellow by the name Bromley). I said, "You're 
making a mistake; you're losing $10 a ton. You still 
have time to withdraw your offer." They said, "No, we will 
take the $25 cash now." "Remember," I said, "that when 
the other growers receive the $35, I do not want you to 
say I am a s.b.--for accepting the offer." 

Did you call your company then California Grape Products? 
California Grape Products, yes, after it was incorporated.* 
You named it that when you began with Mario P. Tribuno? 

No, I was working with Tribuno at that time in Ukiah only 
on a fee. I wasn't part of the company yet. Then when we 
made so much money in Ukiah, I got my share. So Tribuno 
said to me. "Tony, we'd better make a corporation and I'll 
give you 20 per cent of the company and 20 per cent to my 
brother Domenico, and I'll keep 60 per cent. Won't cost you 
a cent if you stay with me." I said, "Sure." 

The company they had in New York was Tribuno and 
Garrish. 

Was Garrish in New York? 

Yes. But I think he had sold out to Tribuno, so Tribuno 
was alone then, and it was the Tribuno company. 

The winery of French-American Wine Company, that I 
bought in Ukiah, was enlarged, and Tribuno wanted to call 
the new company Mendocino Wine Company. I said, "Don't 
sound good; let's make it California Grape Products." He 
said, "We'll make it California Grape Products Company." 
We put a big sign across the building, six foot letters, 
and were thinking about a trademark for the grape syrup 
we were going to make. Domenico and I were looking at the 
sign, and Domenico said, "Cali-gra-po. " From California 
Grape Products Company it came out Caligrapo. That was in 
1920. In 1920, I advised Mr. Tribuno to get Professor 
Monti to come over, because Professor Monti was the author 
of the cold process of making grape syrup. He was a man 
eighty-two years old. 



*The date of incorporation was February 18, 1920. 



60 



Teiser : 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Professor Eudo Monti? 

I think so. He used to make digested food for the Emperor 
of Austria, eggs and meats and grape juice. The Emperor 
of Austria had no stomach at all. And so we got Professor 
Monti in Ukiah. He was there about four or five months. 
All his expenses paid and I think plus $2,000. And so I 
was with Professor Monti in making the concentrates, and 
I learned more about making wine in making concentrates 
than I knew before, although I thought I knew quite a bit. 
But in making concentrates, I learned a great many things 
that we didn't know before. And so we made concentrate 
that we packed in gallon cans. It had a beautiful 
lithographed label, and on the back side "Caution! when 
diluted, don't put in a warm place because it will ferment, 
and that is against the law." Because we figured that as 
long as the grapes were going east for wine making by 
families, if we could convince the families that they could 
make as good wine without having to dispose of the grape 
pomace, and besides they could make wine the year round, 
we would establish a good business. 

What markets did that go into then? 

Mostly New York, Chicago, and New Orleans, by the carload. 
We were selling that in those days, $2.50 a gallon, which 
we don't sell today for that price. 

I had the price list of our Anglo-California wines 
that we sold in 1908, '09, '10 before we had to close. 
We sold sherry for $1.50 a gallon, wholesale. You don't 
get half that much today. Sherry sells for 60^ a gallon 
today. There was good money in the wine business. 

You were making the grape concentrate in Ukiah? 

Yes, oh yes. After Prohibition, we got Mr. Monti, as I 
told you. Now one of the reasons I say I learned more 
about making wine was this. We bought a concentrator in 
Buffalo that was never delivered. We had about 3,000 tons 
of crushed grapes, in tanks, under refrigeration. But 
after while we found out that when the yeast becomes 
accustomed to the temperature, it starts to work. (That's 
one important thing I learned about making wine.) All 
those tanks started to ferment at the same time. You 
couldn't go into the room because the gas was too strong. 



61 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser : 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



I said to myself, "Here we lose everything." But when the 
fermentation was completed I found we had made the most 
beautiful wine! So when I started down here in Delano 
making white wines, I used to freeze the juice down to 32 
and abandon it; never checked it any more 'til the fermenta 
tion was over. We made better wine, with more alcohol, for 
the same amount of sugar, because it was less loss of 
alcohol by lower temperature. 

What did you do with the wine that you made in Ukiah by 
that method? What market could you find for it? 

This was in Prohibition, when we made this wine, we 
couldn't sell it. We had to store it. 

You didn't sell wine to churches, or anything of that sort? 

No. We had a million gallons of wine, made in Ukiah 
during Prohibition, and we had that for 13 years, until 
Fruit Industries was organized. I was one of the charter 
members of Fruit Industries. And that wine went into 
Fruit Industries. That was the most beautiful wine Fruit 
Industries had. We never took care of the wine, and it 
never spoiled. It was magnificent wine, all the result of 
low fermentation starting at 32° or less. 

And that stayed in storage until Repeal? 
That's right. 



VENTURES WITH DI GIORGIO AND WALLACE 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti 

Teiser : 
Perelli-Minetti 



When you made an agreement with Mr. Joseph Di Giorgio... 

We started the vineyard first, and then we built a plant 
for concentrating grape juice. 

Right here near Delano? 

Yes, we had 160 acres. The plant later became part of 
Fruit Industries. The Di Giorgios acquired it and later 
sold it to Schenley. We built that/ 



62 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Where is it? 

It is located at Trocha, about eight miles from here; it 
adjoins Lanza's winery. After we got started we bought 
640 acres from a Mr. Taylor for cash. 

Is that Walter Taylor? 

No, no, no, no. Walter Taylor had nothing to do with that. 
I didn't even know him then; that was before we started 
Fruit Industries.* I think that was in 1927. I made a 
deal with Mr. Di Giorgio. He would furnish the land, well 
and pipe line, we would plant half with varieties of his 
choice, the other half of ours, and do all the work until 
the third year; that is, we plant the vines, put the stakes 
and everything else, and bring it to production. And that 
was the price we paid for our half. Through that method, 
we put together 1,500 acres. 

In the meantime, California Grape Products Company 
had joined Fruit Industries. Then something happened 
between Mario Tribune and myself. We didn't agree on a 
policy. He was in New York, and Fruit Industries head 
quarters were in San Francisco. It was hard for him to 
follow, and we decided to split.** Then I started with 
Wallace.*** Lanza, in the meantime, with Victor Repetto, 
bought California Grape Products, as Mario Tribuno would 
not continue the business.**** 

You didn't have Lanza and Repetto as your partners? 

No, no. I had separated completely from Tribuno. I was 
out completely. Lanza and Repetto bought Tribuno out, 
I think for $250,000. 



*In 1929. See pp. 75ff. and other references as indexed, 
**See also pp. 123-124. 
***See p. 42. 

****See also Horace 0. Lanza and Harry Baccigaluppi, 
California Grape Products and Other Wine Enterprises. 
and Victor Repetto, A Career in the Wine Industry in 
New York and California, Regional Oral History 
interviews in this series. 



63 



Perelli-Minetti: Just a year before Prohibition was repealed, I said 

to Mr. Di Giorgio, "Joe, it seems that Prohibition's going 
to be repealed. There are, maybe eight, ten thousand tons 
of grapes left on the vines. Why don't we make wine out 
of those grapes? You have the Fruit Industries winery now." 
Di Giorgio said, "Well, I have no money; can't do it." I 
said, "If you haven't the money, what do you think about 
me? I haven't any money." Then he said, "You pick your 
grapes, and we pick our own, and we bring them in." So we 
made wine. Di Giorgio 's part was about half a million 
gallons and mine was quite a bit, 200,000, maybe more. 

* 

Then Di Giorgio made a deal with Lanza, and he wanted 
me to turn the keys of the winery over to Lanza. I said, 
"No." He said, "I'll send the sheriff." I said, "I am 
sorry. You can send the president. Possession is 95 per 
cent of the fight. You taught me that. I am sorry, but 
I can't agree to give up the keys." Then young Joe 
Di Giorgio, who is in Arvin now, came up and he said, 
"Tony, my uncle is very mad. Can't we fix this?" 

"Sure. All I want is for Di Giorgio to write me a 
letter to guarantee me the safety of my wine; that's all 
I want." I said, "The man that is going to operate the 
winery has no taste. I put that much vinegar [measuring 
two inches with fingers] in a bottle and then filled it 
with wine and shook it and had him taste it. He said, 
'That was good wine. 1 " 

I said, "Joe, how could you expect me to turn the 
keys in?" 

When Di Giorgio came back—he was then in England- 
Lanza was putting all his grapes in the winery, and 
Di Giorgio 's grapes were falling off the vines. Di Giorgio 
was mad. "My God," he said to Lanza, "you take your wine 
out of here in one week or I will open all the valves." 
Lanza gave Di Giorgio the wine and he took some of his 
grapes. 

Then Di Giorgio needed more room, and he said, "Tony, 
can you take your wine out?" I said, "Which tank?" He 
said, "You go there and pick any tank and take it out." 
So you can imagine I picked the best tank, that's natural. 
Business is business. So I took the wine out. As a 
matter of fact, I sold it to Livermore, Healdsburg, Ukiah. 



64 



Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



I started with 85^ a gallon. No matter what the price, I 
would sell even 20^. I would make a profit. It cost me a 
few cents only. 

I had already built the winery on the Wallace Ranch, 
so I could store the white wine I made at Di Giorgio's. 
That's the adobe building with the wooden tanks in it. 
That was cooperage that the Redwood Corporation 
sold to me on credit.* 

You also built a winery that was later Cresta Blanca's down 
in this area? 

That was the one we built with Tribuno that went into 
Fruit Industries. In 1930, it was enlarged to take care 
of the grapes, and we made a concentrate, and that's 
when the chief chemist of Fruit Industries said that the 
winery was contaminated. It was a new winery. Remember I 
told you about the yeast?** So that's it. 

Yes. And that's now...? 

Schenley. Di Giorgio sold that; also some vineyards, 3,000 
or 4,000 acres and all the wine for $11,000,000 to Schenley. 
And then we built our new plant facing Highway 99 in 1936 
when I incorporated A. Perelli-Minetti & Sons. 

In 1931, I think it was, I applied for $25,000 to 
Bank of America. They refused it. And one afternoon the 
head man of Security Bank in Fresno came down to the 
Wallace Ranch. He said, "We would like to finance you. 
How much money do you need?" I said, "$30,000, I think, 
is all I need now, at this moment." That was in 1931 when 
the Repeal was voted to take effect in 1932, I think. 
"But," he said, "you have to give a warehouse receipt to 
Lawrence Warehouse." I said, "That's going to make it 
tough because it'll cost me another cent a gallon." 

"Well, the bank has to be protected." 

"Very well. I have to pay the price." In those days, 
I think it was five per cent interest; wasn't very bad. 



*See p. 43. 
**See pp. 13-14. 



65 



Perelli-Minetti: And by the end of that year they had loaned me $160,000. 

Then Wallace had some financial trouble. I was in 
Sacramento at a big convention there to decide about some 
issues on the wine industry. Jim Vai was there, and we 
came back together on the same Pullman; I sold him 400,000 
or 500,000 gallons at 50<f a gallon. That was just the 
day before Christmas. On the 20th of January, the wine 
went down to 2Qi. So Jim Vai said, "My God, what am I 
going to do?" "Well," I said, "you have millions. Don't 
worry. You'll get it out." Because he had millions. But 
he said, "Give me a discount." 

"How much do you want?" 

"$10,000." I said, "Jim, I haven't the money, but 
I'll give you $10,000 worth of wine, whatever it is, 
20,000 gallons, 30,000 gallons, 20^ a gallon." 

That's what we settled. Because when I had a debt 
and I could pay with wine, I always paid with it. In 
Vai's case I made a profit, because instead of paying him 
$10,000, I actually paid $9,000, which was the cost of the 
wine. 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



All this time you were running these properties, you also 
had this present property too? 

In a way, yes. We didn't have anything. The approach from 
this plant to Delano was the worst sight that you could 
think of. They called it "badlands." 

It's very sandy, isn't it? 

No, it was alkali, it was awful to look at. It gave a 
horrible impression. So I started buying this land for 
$25 an acre. 

When did you start? 

A couple of years before we built this winery. Wallace 
could not stand it that he couldn't go to the winery and 
boss everybody. He couldn't say anything. I had the 
place, and that was it. One day Mr. Wallace said to me, 
"Why don't we split?" I said, "Any time you want, I'll 
split." 



66 



Perelli-Minetti: "You name the conditions and and if acceptable, I'll 

split." 

I'll come to that later.* 



BEGINNINGS OF A. PERELLI-MINETTI & SONS 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



So I started buying these lands in small pieces, because 
this land had previously been bought in five and ten acre 
tracts for oil investment. I said to myself, if I buy it, 
if I put the winery on it, with the winery refuses I can 
neutralize the alkali and have the best soil. Further, it 
has a future for industrial purposes. It faces the railroad 
and Highway 99. 

Every time I bought a piece of land, I had the 
surveyor come in and give me a map of it. I had bought 
an 80-acre piece that I thought went to the railroad; I 
found after surveying, it did not, and naturally I could 
not afford to build the winery until I secured the land 
facing the railroad. 

It happened one day the president of the local bank 
called me and he said, "Tony, I've got a fellow here that 
wants to sell 20 acres. You'll need $1,000. Do you want 
to buy it?" 

I said, "Yes." So that's the way I got to the railroad.** 
There was an editorial written in the town paper here when 
I bought this land, and why I bought this land, and the 
idea was to remove the unsightly look, which was unbearable. 
Really, when you came in to Delano from the south, it looked 
like Death Valley. 

How did you know it was going to be good grape land? 

To begin I didn't give a darn about that. I knew one thing: 
that we had the highway and we had the railroad; we had no 



*P. 101 

**The winery is adjacent to the Southern Pacific main line 
and has a siding. See also p. 101. 



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industry, and some day industry would come here. That 
was the main purpose. The vineyard was secondary. The 
refuse of the winery is acid; it neutralizes the alkali 
and puts in fertilizer. So I had two shots, one to improve 
the land. Alkali land is made of the finest silt, and to 
prove that to you: on 270 acres, on three vine blocks 
which we were planting, the water from one well, within 
two hours, had gone past each block clear to the railroad 
track, some 4,000 feet, just like running on glass. When 
we started putting the winery refuse on the same land, 
the same pump, the water would irrigate only eight rows 
of one block. The alkali comes to the surface by 
capillarity; then the wind blows it away. So that's how 
we reclaimed the land. 

Did you first bring in grapes from elsewhere to make wine 
here? 

Yes. We bought about 10,000 tons of grapes, and the 
refuse of those grapes went on that land. Then we started 
planting. 



BEGINNINGS OF FRUIT INDUSTRIES 



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Were you ever involved with the Guasti Italian Vineyard 
Company? 

Yes. 

When was that? 

During the Depression. 

That was after you had established this winery? 

That's right. That was after 1936. But before, Guasti was 
president of Fruit Industries—young Guasti [Secondo 
Guasti, Jr.] .* 



*See p. 119 and other references as indexed. 



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Oh, this ties in with Fruit Industries? 
That goes back to 1929. 

I'll make a note and remind you as we get into the Fruit 
Industries story. Before we come to that, let me go back 
to the pre-Prohibition period and ask you a question about 
that. Some members of the industry, I understand, 
campaigned quite vigorously against Prohibition. Did you? 

No, I did not. The man who did most was Andrea Sbarboro. 
Italian Swiss Colony joined with California Wine Association 
and all the big fellows of the time, but the man who went 
to Washington was Andrea Sbarboro. He was president of 
the Italian-American Bank, which later was absorbed, became 
Bank of Italy, and then became Bank of America. 

Then, during the "20's I think, the California Vineyardists 
Association was formed under a man named Donald D. Conn. 
Did you have anything to do with that? 

No. That led to the birth of Fruit Industries. He was 
instrumental in organizing Fruit Industries. And we went 
to Washington. I was in Washington three months. 

Let's go back and start with Fruit Industries. I see this 
all fits together in ways that I didn't understand. 

Donald Conn was a promoter. Hoover was being groomed for 
president, and we were assured of a loan of $5,000,000 if 
we took care of as many grapes as it was possible. Hoover 
had pledged himself to it if he became president, to see 
that we get a loan of $5,000,000. 

For what? 

For salvaging the grape industry,* in California. 

How was it going to be done? 

By buying grapes, making concentrates and by-products, as 
members of Fruit Industries. So we built the plants and 



*See also pp. 124-126. 



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had wineries throughout the state. Some had concentrators 
like Community winery* in Lodi, and Guasti. The plant 
in Delano that California Grape Products had established 
was enlarged, and became the biggest one. And that's why 
Fruit Industries had the big laboratory in San Francisco 
where there was evolved a practical way to make wine from 
concentrate throughout the United States. That was the 
idea. But instead of getting $5,000,000, we got $1,000,000, 
out of which Mrs. [Mabel Walker] WilLebrandt was paid 
$100,000. 

So the Conn deal was a failure? 

The Conn deal was a failure in that he was not a business 
man, he was a promoter. 

I'd like to ask some questions about Fruit Industries.... 
Some I can answer, some I won't answer. 

In November, 1929, we campaigned in Washington to 
salvage the industry because it had been arranged with 
Hoover at Stanford, where he was living then, that he 
would have financing for Fruit Industries to help put the 
grape industry back on its feet. Captain [Paul] Garrett, 
Hugh Adams, his general salesman, and then the attorney 
from there, I forget his name, [Secondo] Guasti [Jr.], 
[James A.] Barlotti, myself. We were all in Washington. 

Barlotti was with Guasti at that time? 

Yes, he was. So we were all in Washington. We used to 
meet in New York at Di Giorgio "s to go over the plans, 
then get back to Washington, back and forth. So we spent 
about three months I think. Finally we came back to 
California and organized Fruit Industries. I was one of 
the charter members. Guasti and Barlotti--tihere were 
quite a number of names. Fruit Industries took over the 
plants and made Guasti its headquarters then. Later it 
was moved to San Francisco when Fruit Industries took over 
the California Wine Association. 

How did Fruit Industries happen to take over California 
Wine Association? Were you in on that? 



*Community Grape Corporation 



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Oh yes. 

What was the mechanism? 

The mechanism was very simple. Mr. [Joseph] Grace owned 
California Wine Association and was a member. 

Of Grace Brothers? 

Yes. So Grace was in Fruit Industries, and he got so fed 
up, and he said, "I'll get out." And he sold, and Fruit 
Industries bought California Wine Association for $2,500. 



What did you get for your $2,500? 



We got the labels and the name, 
by Santa Fe railroad. 

Where was that plant? 



the plant, which was owned 



On Minnesota Street in San Francisco. California Wine 
Association had no wine in the plant. Grace came in just 
to make everything as big as possible. So did Di Giorgio. 
Di Giorgio put nothing in, just an old winery building 
that had been mostly dismantled many years before, located 
in Sanger. But Fruit Industries wanted Di Giorgio for the 
effect. The place meant nothing. So we got quite a number 
of wineries, but the principals came in first--Di Giorgio, 
Grace Brothers, ourselves — that was California Grape 
Products Company- -Guasti, Garrett, Community. These were 
the big ones. Then [Walter E.] Taylor was made general 
manager; he was with Community. Then we got the other 
wineries in one by one. We practically had 70 per cent 
of the grape business of the state. And then when Repeal 
came, well, Fruit Industries had lots of wine--used to sell 
quite a bit for sacramental purposes—and the concentrate 
was made into wine too. 

At the time that you formed this organization, you were 
quite sure that Repeal was coming? 

Judging from the way things went, everyone felt it could 
not last. Hoover had assured that it would come, and when 
Roosevelt was elected, he came right out against Prohibition. 
There was no doubt about it. 



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Perelli-Minetti: A couple hundred thousand tons of grapes were shipped 

east during Prohibition, and maybe more. Practically all 
the grapes in the state went east. And if you figure the 
amount of wine that was made from those grapes plus the 
addition of sugar and water, you would have seven, eight 
hundred million gallons of wine that was consumed during 
Prohibition. That consumption disappeared the moment 
Prohibition was repealed, because the saloon came in and 
the people that were raised on cocktails during Prohibition 
went for sweet wine. 

The opening of the saloon, in my judgment, killed the 
dry wine market overnight. And that was a pitiful thing. 
After Repeal, the sale of dry wine was about 10 per cent 
of that of sweet wine, which was just the opposite of 
before Prohibition when the dry wine was about 90 per cent. 
And the reason the sweet wines were made in the valley 
in pre-Prohibition times was that they were easier to make 
than dry wines, and many winemakers of those times failed 
in the attempt to make dry wines. 



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(Interview #3 - May 17, 1969) 



JOSEPH DI GIORGIO AND SECONDO GUASTI 



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When did you first know Joseph Di Giorgio? 

1922. That's when Mr. Tribune and Di Giorgio met on the 
boat.* 

You hadn't met him before that? 

I knew who he was, but never met him. Di Giorgio came 
over here because he bought the agricultural interest of 
Armour Packing Company in California. Armour had big 
estates in the fruit business. Di Giorgio bought it out. 
He was in the fruit business. Di Giorgio had several 
ships. He controlled the banana industry of the world in 
those days. He had, I don't know, 20 ships plying between 
Guatemala and Mexico and the Bahamas and Jamaica. 

Were the Armour properties here in the San Joaquin Valley? 

They were in the Sacramento Valley. And then he came to 
Delano and later Arvin to raise grapes. 

Was he interested in wine? 

Just in the grapes at the beginning. He thought the wine 
should be sold like fresh fruit, at auction. He wanted to 
put in the money today and get it out tomorrow. 

He must have been a remarkable man. 



*See p. 54. 



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He was. 

Was he very intelligent? 

Oh sure. He started selling lemons in Baltimore when he 
was 14 years old when he came to this country. With a 
little cart. When he was 20 years old, he was the 
director of a big bank there, which had started loaning 
money. That gave him his start. 

Did his sons continue his business? 



He had no children of his own. 
no children from either wives. 



He was married twice, but 
These are his nephews. 



What did he look like? 

He was a very handsome man. 
of Stalin. 

Strong? 



Somewhat gave me the impression 



Oh, strong man. He would fight anybody. He fought the 
United Fruit Company for twenty years and made the United 
Fruit Company come to his terms. 

Lots of courage? 

Lots of courage and lots of guts. More than courage 
[laughter]. He was a very handsome man, so different from 
his brother, you never would tell they were brothers. 

The other family that I kind of associate with the Di Giorgio 
family is the Guasti family. 

The Guasti family has only two sons left. Well, five 
children were born to Guasti. 

Secondo Guasti, Senior? 

Yes, Senior. They all died except the last one, Secondo 
Guasti, Jr. But he died when he was barely 42 years old. 
Kidney trouble. He was married to the daughter of the 
president of the Union Oil Company, of Los Angeles. And 
they had two children,* Guasti III and Bill. One, I think 



*See also pp. 119-121. 



V. 





Relief of Secondo Guasti, founder of Ital- Secondo Guastl, Jr. Photograph courtesy 
ian Vineyard Company, on church at Guasti. of Harry Baccigaluppi. 



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Bill, married Daniels' daughter of the one in the picture 
business, you know? 

Bebe Daniels? 

Yes. The other one, I do not remember the girl's name 
whom he married. Guasti III looked exactly like his 
grandfather. Bill took after his mother. 

What did his grandfather look like? 

Quite a handsome man. I've got some pictures some place. 

Was he big? small? 

He was about my size. 

Was he a forceful man also? 

Very forceful. He came through Mexico, so he used to tell 
me. He was inducted into the army as a cook. He finally 
escaped to California. He saw the possibilities of the 
wine business. He came from Piedmont.* And you know the 
Italians, all they see is wine, any place they go. And in 
the Cucamonga district, mostly desert then, he stuck a few 
vines here and there in the ground before anybody knew it, 
and they grew beautifully. Then he organized a company 
called the Italian Vineyard Company, a stock company. 

You know the name of Cucamonga, how it came about 
so they say? In the early days, the Indians attacked 
Cucamonga and there was a fight that lasted several days, 
and when it ended it was found the cook had been killed. 
So the owner called to the men, "Is there a cook among you?" 
So that's where they got Cucamonga. That's the legend. 

[Laughing] Had his family grown grapes in Piedmont? 

I think so. 

So he knew that much about it? 

Oh, yes. He was a very forceful man. As a matter of fact, 



*Italy 



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at one time he fought the California Wine Association, 
Lachman & Jacobi, Italian Swiss Colony, and everybody. 
It was a price war. Port wine, sherry, and every kind of 
sweet wine was sold in New Orleans for 10^ a gallon, 
including the barrel, freight and everything. Finally 
the trust had to bow to him. 

New Orleans was a big market, was it not? 

In those days, sure. Italian, French people, they all 
drank wine.* New York was a big market. People bought by 
the barrel. Mostly dry wine in the North. In the South 
it was mostly sweet wine. 

Sweet wines in New Orleans? 
Yes. 



FRUIT INDUSTRIES AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION 



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I think you were starting yesterday to tell about Fruit 
Industries. The early days of it. 

Well, as I said, I don't remember exactly the date we 
incorporated it. 

1929. 

So we established then. I was one of the directors up to 
the time it was sold. Fruit Industries' name, when Repeal 
came, was changed to California Wine Association. 

The original members--! think you mentioned most of them. 
Colonial Grape Products was also an original member, was 
it not? 

That was [Sophus] Federspiel. 

But it stayed in only a little while? 

Just a little while because they could smell there wasn't... 
They wanted to be independent. That's when Colonial and 
Lanza were together. 



*See also Sydney J. Block, Selling California Wines in 
New Orleans, a Regional Oral History Office interview in 
this series. 



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Of the original group, were there a few members who were 
dominant and the rest going along, or was it pretty 
democratic? 

Mostly they were pretty passive. The members that remained 
in were Jack Bare's family,* Cherokee Vineyards, Lodi 
Winery, ourselves; we bought Lodi out last year. 

Was it a co-operative? 

Yes. Jack Bare was individually owned, but Cherokee and 
Lodi were co-ops. 

Who was Jack Bare? 

Jack Bare was a very successful grower in Lodi. He had 
about 600 acres of vineyard and had a small winery, and 
joined Fruit Industries. For a long time he was president. 
When Guasti died, James Barlotti became president, followed 
by Mr. Bare. The presidents were rotated; it was an 
honorary position rather than a management position. 
Management was Walter Taylor; he was the actual manager 
up to the time he withdrew, and then my son Mario was 
named manager. That was in 1951.** 

A.W. Morrow was what? 

A.W. Morrow was in charge of production. 

Was he a very knowledgeable wine man? 

I think he was the best man in California. 

I hear some people say so and some people say not, so I'm 
interested that you think he was. 

My opinion of Mr. Morrow is high. I met Mr. Morrow in 
1903, and I worked under him, made wine for him in 
Livermore at the old Pioneer Winery, which belongs now to 
Schenley. And he had one of the finest palates in the 
country. He was an authority on wine, was production 
superintendent of California Wine Association when I was 
there in 1903. He was a young man. California Wine 
Association didn't go with favors, it went with the best 
man. And he was the best man California Wine Association 



*Rancho del Oso Winery 

**Announcement of the resignation and appointment was made 
early in December, 1950. (Lodi News Sentinel, Dec. 5, 1950, 
"Taylor Quits Position as F.I. Manager." 



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had, and he remained all the time with California Wine 
Association. Then he became actual manager and president, 
I believe. When P.C. Rossi died, Italian Swiss Colony, 
Lachman & Jacobi, they all merged with California Wine 
Association. It became one big company later. Italian 
Swiss Colony became part of California Wine Association. 

Oh. I didn't know what the immediate circumstance was. 

The circumstance of that was the accidental death of 

Pietro Rossi. Otherwise it never would have happened. 

So California Wine Association became one big corporation. 

Was Garrett & Company in Fruit Industries at the beginning? 
One of the organizers. That's right. 
Was it a leader in it? 

It was. Then [Paul] Garrett withdrew, but his people 
remained in Fruit Industries. Hugh Adams was the general 
salesman for Garrett and became salesman of Fruit 
Industries. 

Did the Garrett interests dominate the organization? 

He was a powerful man. He did not dominate because in a 
co-op you can dominate to a certain point, but no more. 
You have to do that by conviction. But I would suggest 
that you get in touch with Walter Taylor. He's still 
alive. Because he has everything on the tips of his 
fingers, more than I have because I've been interested in 
many other things, and he retired in 1951. 

I've spoken to him and he's reluctant, partly because his 
wife is ill, I think. I hope in the end he will give an 
interview. Did Fruit Industries get into brandy production 
rather early, after Repeal? 

We used to make brandy for Fruit Industries. We were the 
first one to make the brandy. 

That was at your own winery? 

That's right. It was our own winery, which now belongs to 
the growers, Delano Growers Cooperative. And as a matter 
of fact, the first brandy labels of Fruit Industries read 






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"produced by Perelli-Minetti & Sons." The people who 
bought the brandy still remember that (those that are 
left). We made all the brandy for California Wine 
Association. 

Our brandy sales now, according to the last report I 
got, while they are not the highest in the industry, during 
1968 and this part of '69, the increase percentagewise is 
higher than the industry. The sales are not as big as 
Schenley or Christian Brothers. But if the Christian Brothers 
increased their sales 10 per cent, we increased 25 per cent. 
It is practically double of the industry. 

There is an A.R. Morrow brand, of brandy? 

Yes. A.R. Morrow brandy is 100 proof. 

You make it now? 

We make it now. 

And you have another label? 

Aristocrat. Then we've got a couple of other labels. 

This was one of the points of contention in the California 
Wine Association, I understood, at an earlier time. Some 
of the people thought that there were too many labels, that 
all of the products of the California Wine Association should 
be given one set of identifiable names. Do you remember 
this discussion? 

Well, California Wine Association in the early days had many 
registered labels. So gradually they were reduced to the 
most important ones. And for some we had to fight. Now, 
for instance, Greys tone was given, in part, a separate 
territory—now Italian Swiss Colony has it in some parts of 
the country.* Now L & J, California Wine Association tried 
to take over the name and had to fight and go to court- - 
although relations with Comiskey** were not ruined. They 



*For further information on the Greystone label, see Louis 
Petri, The Petri Family in the Wine Industry, a Regional Oral 
History Office interview in this series completed in 1971. 



**James E. Comiskey Company, New Orleans. 



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still are our customer, but we wanted ownership of the 
label. We had many lawsuits like that to establish the 
propriety of the labels. 

Then some people felt that it was important to maintain 
the old labels in the markets in which they were known, is 
that it? 

Oh absolutely, because the label is what sells. See [showing 
a label], that's one of the labels for California Wine 
Association. 

It's a beautiful label, isn't it? 

Yes. Wahtoke. Now that belonged to Cella. That winery 
there in Wahtoke belonged to Cella and now belongs to 
United Vintners. 

There certainly have been a lot of changes like that. 
Really many changes. 

Back to Fruit Industries. I notice that in 1934 there was 
a reorganization. What was the purpose of that? 

Well, the reorganization was because of the change of 
Prohibition, to put more into the wine line. Because 
before we used to make concentrate, in order to salvage 
the grape. But then when the wine came, naturally every 
body tried to get into the wine business, and Fruit 
Industries did. At that time we had 70 per cent, or maybe 
a little over 70 per cent, of the sales of California. We 
could have maintained that position. 



FAMILY COMPANIES 



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I admire Gallo because I admire any man's intelligence when 
he gets ahead. I'm not jealous. It pleases me to see, 
especially like the Gallo boys, the way they improve them 
selves tremendously. He's a dynamic fellow.* The only 



*Ernest Gallo 






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They took advantage of the position they were in, one 
label. Other people were fighting each other, and they 
just took advantage. And he had the vision and the 
courage to do it, that's all. 

I guess he's a very hard worker, too, isn't he? 

Tremendously hard worker, and he's a very good family 
man. His wife used to tell me all the time, no matter 
what he does, he's really a good family man. Which is 
very seldom you see that. 

She is Franzia's sister.* And sometimes people, at 
least in the industry, believe that Franzia is a front 
for many cheaper wines that Gallo is selling. Other 
people say no, that in business they're just like cats 
and dogs. But anyway, whatever the combination is, it's 
a damn good combination because they're successful; 
they're both successful. But Franzia never wanted to 
raise the price, except now lately they have started to 
do so. 

It's interesting to see how well a well-managed family 
company does do. 

It is. Unfortunately, the tax... and we had lots of trouble 
with Uncle Sam on this land here. The well water was too 
deep and wasn't aereated, and the vines weren't doing too 
well. In order to get canal water we had to sign a 
contract to sell the land at the prevailing price at the 
termination of it. So when the canal came through, we 
signed a contract with Uncle Sam for only ten years, and 
before we signed the contract--we have the correspondence 
to show it--I wrote to Washington stating that it was a 
family corporation, that the place was owned by the family. 
And they said, we realize that, but under the law it's a 



*Ernest Gallo married the daughter of Giuseppe Franzia, 
whose five sons carried on the family winery. 



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corporation, so it's only one, and entitled only to 160 
acres.* Now that law is wrong. The interpretation of 
the law is wrong. It's been an abuse by the Department 
of the Interior for the simple reason that I was in this 
country when that law went in, and I know all the debating 
that was done in Congress at the time. First National 
Bank, the Crocker National Bank, and the Del Monte people 
owned a tremendous amount of land in that district there. 
It was all open land. And when the dam was completed, the 
160-acre law was passed by Congress — to prevent open land 
owners from making a tremendous amount of money in the 
re-sale of that land, and that was the only purpose—not 
developed land. 

Which dam is that? 

The dam that's up there at the Merced River. So that law 
was passed to prevent that, but it did not intend, and 
does not mean that canal water would be subject to the 
160-acre law for land that had been previously reclaimed 
and put in full production. 

We have spent over a million dollars to the Southern 
California Edison Company in improving our land, in getting 
the water out of the ground. Where people had done the 
same thing, starved to accomplish something in developing 
a piece of desert land and making it bloom—then the 
Reclamation Bureau comes in and illegally practically 
confiscates that land. That is an abuse, but we are not 
big enough to fight that. And the people who tried to 
fight it never went back to the Congress and all the 
Congress records to see the purpose of that law. So then 
before the contract with the Department of Interior expired, 
we asked for a little more time to decide, if they would 
give us the time. Otherwise we knew what to do. The 
Bureau granted that, and so for two years we bickered back 
and forth, to try to achieve the form we could maintain 
the property within the family. But every time the Revenue 
said no: Can't do this because we'll assess you, we'll 
charge you the tax as it is now, 52 1/2 per cent, and so 
forth and so on. Then finally it was agreed that the share 
holders of the company have an undivided interest in the 



*Under the Central Valley federal irrigation project. 



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land. So there are 26 corporations now. It cost us about 
$50,000 to do it. We've been operating on that corporation 
for three years this October. 

Is your daughter Jean your legal counsel? 

Our legal counsel is O'Melveny and Myers of Los Angeles. 
They've been our attorneys since I split with Wallace. 
Jean was working in Los Angeles at that time with another 
law firm, doing research work and sometimes going to court 
too. She does minor things here, but any big problem we 
take it to O'Melveny and Myers. 

Specialists? 

They have specialists in every line of business, and are 
the biggest company west of Chicago. 

I'd like to know what your first impressions of California 
were as a young man. 

California, there is no question about it, was a paradise 
then. The people were all very friendly. Although to 
the Italians, the Americans were not in a way. We still 
were dagos. It might be excused if it refers to the 
people that came to the United States from the labor class, 
attracted by high wages. The intellectual class would not 
stoop to manual labor and would go to South America where 
the language is easier to master. Here you have a different 
situation. When I got to San Francisco there were only 
maybe seven or eight university people, graduates. The 
rest were from the laboring class, very intelligent, some. 
Some very ruthless, no respect for the law or the morals, 
which was the reason for the Americans' attitude. 

But California was just beautiful. Sonoma County was 
pretty because agriculture, vineyards were all over; there 
was nothing but vineyards and prunes. The prunes were 
in very minor quantity, but the vineyards were all over. 
On top of the mountains, every place that you could look at, 
you saw vineyards. And those people worked hard. I remember 
I worked hard when I bought the ranch. I used to get up at 
three o'clock in the morning, clean my horses, take them 
to watering, then with the men feed them, go back home, 
make my breakfast, and then plow all day. So that's why I 
got along with my laborers very fine because I understand 
the laborer. Manual labor is hard. 



83 



MECHANIZATION 



Teiser : 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Have conditions changed though so that mechanical devices 
have taken over a fair amount of the labor? 

The American, fundamentally, is lazy. So lazy that, as 
far as hard manual work is concerned, he invents something 
so as not to do the hard work. And that's been a blessing 
because so much hard work that we had to do by hand is not 
done today. It is progress. 

For instance, out here right now, what sort of things do 
you do that were not known even when you first came to 
California? 

Well, mechanical tractors, mechanical sprays. . .many things 
that were fundamental in those days you had to do all by 
hand . 

Have you done any experiments with mechanical harvesting? 

Not here, but we have gone where the experiments have been 
done. As a matter of fact, there is a vineyard near here, 
some 20 acres, that was planted and trained especially for 
mechanical harvesting. We have gone there and seen the 
harvesting done. It's a long way from being perfect, because 
I saw lots of waste. When the wire is beaten some of the 
grapes fall ahead, before they can get into the troughs of 
the harvesters. Then some other grapes would not get off; 
it takes a knife or a scissor to cut them off. You have 
to change completely the nature of the grape. You have to 
produce new types of grapes that have a brittle stem that 
will break off under little shock. But that shock has to 
be so that nothing ahead of the harvester falls on the 
ground. Because the leaves are quite matured, a greater 
number fall in the harvester through the blower that blows 
out most of the leaves. It throws out, also, a sizeable 
percentage of juice and skins and pulp- -and juice is what 
grapes are purchased for. 

It is like the cotton picker, like any other machine: 
it has to have a beginning and imperfection. Gradually 
it'll be perfected. It'll take some time yet until all 
these defects are eliminated. And then you have tremendous 
weight. The machine is bigger than this room. Its use is 
questionable in case of rains. Have you seen it? 



84 



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Perelli-Minetti: 



No. 

Oh, it's a tremendous machine. It straddles the row, 
patterned to those trucks that carry lumber underneath. 
The tank truck follows the harvester, and the grapes are 
blown into the tank, and some of the juice and most of 
the leaves into the air. In most cases, the grapes 
become a poultice, especially if they are over-ripe by 
the time they reach the truck tank. But as I say, any 
first machine has its trouble, and in time we'll have it. 
But, you have to change the way of pruning the vines, 
you have to change the way of trellising the vines. 



VINERY FINANCING AND MARKET STABILIZATION 



Perelli-Minetti: 



After Prohibition was repealed everybody tried to get 
into the wine business. There were so many people 
in, qualified and unqualified, with money and without 
money, mostly without money. Gallo didn't have anything. 
We didn't have anything but mortgages, nothing but 
mortgages. All the land I bought, I bought on time, and 
made the land pay for itself. Walter Taylor one time told 
me, "Tony, you lift yourself with the bootstraps." 

Our success is entirely due to the Security First 
National Bank, the liberal way they have financed us, and 
the policy of the Security National Bank that if you are 
in trouble, they'll loan more money to get you out. Other 
banks are liable to cut right there and salvage what they 
can. Now we have an open operating loan of over $4,000,000. 
No mortgage, nothing, just our personal guarantee and that's 
all. As the money from the sales come in, it is turned in 
against the loan. At the end of the year if we owe money, 
we issue a note for whatever balance is due. Now that 
actually has been the reason for my success, because it 
gave us the ability to function, which I would not have 
been able to do under the way other banks operate. I had 
the freedom of the use of the money as I saw fit. 



85 



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Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti! 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Of course, they wouldn't have done it if you hadn't been 
able to function. 

Naturally, but they gave me a chance. Guasti was with 
Security First National in Los Angeles. The president of 
the bank was Mr. [Joseph F.] Sartori, a little fellow, 
always with the big cigar. Cigar was as big as he was. 
He had no children; his adopted son, Wallace, was president 
of the bank later before Sartori died. He, Sartori, always 
used to tell me, "We will not loan money to anybody we 
have to watch with a shotgun. We don't want that business." 
They had taken over a couple of banks at that time in 
Arizona. He said, "We're cutting off so many of those 
customers. We are calling in those loans, arranging to 
get them paid, without hurting anyone. We don't want 
them on our books. We don't want anybody we have to watch 
with a shotgun." 

Was this quite different from the way the B«nk of America 
operated during that period? 

Well, I don't know how the Bank of America operated because 
I have no contact with the Bank of America. 

I know they were in wine a good deal. 

Yes. Bank of America, for instance, you have to have 50 
or 60 per cent of the money; they loan you the difference, 
as I understand. Security loans me money to buy the 
grapes and to operate until I sell the wine, which makes 
a big difference. They loan me 100 per cent on the cost 
of the wine, besides the money to operate the vineyard, 
a big difference. I don't know if other banks will do 
that. As I said before, my success is due to Security 
First National because in effect they have been a generous 
silent partner, and they have made money out of it too. 

I gather then that you have not had to go up and down with 
the various price stabilization attempts in the industry, 
that you've been fairly stable within yourself. 

No, we had to go back and forth with that. Let me tell 
you this: For several years (I can show you the statement) 
we showed $94 profit. Actually, we lost $100,000. Because 
we have real estate from which we have an income of $100,000 
a year, which wasn't part of the wine industry. We had a 
loss of $100,000 for each of those years. 



86 



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Perelli-Minetti: 

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Teiser: 

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Teiser: 



What years were those? 

Oh, three or four years ago. 

That recent? 

Yes. When you buy grapes at $50 and sell wine on the $30 
grape, you lose $20 a ton. It doesn't take much to figure 
that out. 

In the late '30's, the period just before the Second 
World War, when the prorate program was established, were 
you involved in that? 

Oh yes. 

Were you in favor of the prorate program? 

I was in favor of the prorate program because that's one 
of the few ways it could do justice to the grower. As a 
matter of fact, I didn't get the credit, but the program 
was written by me. I wrote the basic part of the program, 
because I know the industry, the value of the industry and 
what a ton of grapes would give you; it was put so that 
no one could take advantage of another. Somebody else 
got the credit of writing the program. It didn't matter 
to me. I was interested in the results and the grower. 

How did the prorate operate? 

The prorate operated this way. The winery processed the 
grapes and gave the grower so much wine to a ton of grapes. 
It was approved by the state, established on the amount 
of wine that a ton of grapes would produce, I would say 
a good average formula. If you produced more because of 
efficiency, it was naturally to the winery's profit. So 
the grower would get what the industry average was, the 
average calculation made by the Department of Agriculture 
in Washington. Now that surplus was denied by Warren* 
after we actually had approved the contracts. So he was in 
politics and... 

As attorney general? 

As attorney general for the state. 

What did Warren do? 



*Earl Warren 



87 



Perelli-Minetti: Welch. Naturally his position was delicate then. 

I think I'm responsible for that because on my way 
to San Francisco, talking to a group of growers, I said, 
well, in our organization there is a profit for us of 
three or four per cent. And then naturally the growers 
got together, and from that hint they decided to challenge 
the industry. So the industry had to bow to the grower. 
I don't know how many thousands of barrels of alcohol 
were made from the surplus. In those days alcohol would 
be in drums and sent to a warehouse. I said, "Why should 
I buy drums, pay transportation in and out, warehouse 
fees, etcetera? I'll just buy the tanks and keep the 
alcohol here at the winery under lock and key by the 
government." So that'* when we put those tanks in the 
little building I showed you that's going to come down. 



Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti; 
Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti: 



Had you already a bonded warehouse? 
Yes. 

You already had it, and this was just an additional one 
on the grounds? 

We had the distillery, but no warehouse. 

That was the program that Burke Critchfield administered, 
was that it? 

Critchfield, yes.* Critchfield followed by an ex-general 
manager of Sun Maid, dead now. 

Was it a good enough program to use again? 

You mean that prorate? 

Yes. 

I don't believe in artificial programs. I believe in the 
survival of the fittest. I believe in competition. I 
don't think that condition will arise today because we 
haven't got enough grapes to go around. I'm fearful 
nevertheless this year of the change of weather, that if 
we should get rain during the picking season, we might 
have raisin grapes and part of the table grapes go into 
the winery. Then there would be no room in the wineries. 
I strongly believe that the three segments of the grape 



*See also Burke H. Critchfield, The California Wine Industry 
During the Depression, a Regional Oral History Office 
interview completed in 1972. 



88 



Perelli-Minetti: 



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Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



industry (that is, table, raisin and wine) should be 
entirely defined, and each stand on its own feet so to 
speak. It would eliminate the scavenger who waits for 
such times, fills his winery, and breaks the price 
structure. 

I claim (and I've always fought, and I've had many 
fights with [A.] Setrakian) that fresh table grape 
industry makes large profits on its investment, more than 
the grower who raises grapes for the winery or raisins. 
Like Setrakian and like growers that put culls and 
strippings into their winery—if those grapes were 
destroyed or prevented from going into the winery, that 
grower would not lose any money, because his shipping has 
produced handsome profits. 

I stand on my feet on that. I've fought but have 
not been able to get anywhere. The three segments of the 
grape industry should stand on their own feet if the wine 
industry is to be stabilized as it should, and not subject 
to dumping because of low cost by those who crush their 
own culls and strippings--or the scavengers. 

I've had many fights with Al Paul, and we were bitter 
business enemies, although we would have lunch together. 
But on the business end we were bitter enemies; we stood 
apart on different points. For instance, his company makes 
alcohol from the sweepings of the Raisin Association. They 
buy a few grapes, but 90 per cent of their alcohol is made 
from sweepings and damaged or under standard raisins. And 
his alcohol is sold to the winery. I contend that a raisin 
is not a fresh grape. 

Mr. Setrakian does the same? 

No. Mr. Setrakian is a shipper of fresh grapes, but he 
has a co-op, and he takes all the culls and strippings he 
doesn't ship—the discard, what's left over on the vine 
that cannot be shipped. 

He's operating as a raisin man and you're operating as a 
wine man? 

No. He's a wine man, too, but principally a fresh grape 
shipper and producer. He is a brilliant man and knows 
all the angles. 



89 



Teiser : 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



We hope to interview him. 

Yes, he has an office in San Francisco. He is a very 
shrewd man. He's a brilliant speaker, and in so doing 
tears come down. It impresses the crowds. 

You're personal friends? 



Perelli-Minetti: We are personal friends, and once in a while we fight too. 

I have supported him on many programs, and I fought him 
on the last one because the last one wasn't right and... 
And as a matter of fact his group at the meeting agreed 
that my program had merits. The chairman of the meeting 
asked me just to fight for my program. Mr. Setrakian was 
to cut down the tonnage that the grower could put into the 
winery because the wineries had too much inventory for 
five years, to be released one-fifth beginning the following 
year—which would not penalize the grower, whose profit 
is so limited that it could break some. And the grower 
was for it. But the wine people were against it, and both 
programs died. 



Teiser: 



Was this 1961? 



Perelli-Minetti: No, later; 1966 I think. 



Ernie Gallo, in the elevator with me, said, "Well, 
Tony, you've got a cock-eyed idea; I don't like it." I 
said, "No, you don't like it, but it's good." He said, 
"What are we going to do for cooperage?" 

"Oh," I said, "forget about the cooperage. You're 
selling inventory, and making room. What's the difference 
whether you freeze part of the space? You're just buying 
what you can replace in the sale, that's all you're doing." 

Then he's come out with $48 a ton offer for grapes 
the month before the crop can be delivered. So that shows 
there is a shortage of grapes. Gallo "s offer proves it. 
But our company is too small to take the risk to offer 
that price so early in the season, so we buy a certain 
percentage of our requirements at the beginning, and the 
rest as the season progresses. 

The conditions of the weather are so upset that God 
forbid we get rains; I would not be able to pick our grapes, 



90 



Perelli-Minetti 



because this land here is so different from the land of 
Sierra Vista. There it can rain today, and you can go 
on it tomorrow, because it is the decomposed granite. 
This is all silt, and when wet, it takes a long time to 
dry out to permit implements to go over it. The grapes 
then must be picked in boxes and carried out, a very hard, 
costly job. If we lose the crop, we lose half a million 
dollars. Then we're in trouble. 

So.... I don't go to church, but I hope that 
Almighty God keeps us free from rain during the season. 
Last year was a beautiful season. But you know there's 
always a first time, and this is not the first time that 
rain has come to California during picking season. But 
if we get rain like we had in February and March, my God, 
then you'll have 3,000,000 tons of grapes, if they can be 
picked, going to the winery, and there is no such capacity 
available for that. Many grapes will remain on the vines 
and the winery will pay just transportation charge and 
that's all. Because the grower has to unload the vine 
so as not to hurt the following crop. 



FRUIT INDUSTRIES AND THE CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION 
(CONTINUED) 



Teiser : 

Perelli-Minetti: 
Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 



Do you want to continue your recollections of Fruit 
Industries and California Wine Association? 

Well, in what way? 

I think there was a 1934 reorganization and a 1937 one, 
wasn't there? You explained the 1934 one. Was there a 
1937 reorganization? 

I don't remember. We had many policy changes. 
Do you want to discuss them in any way? 

Well, for instance, we had to close up the New York plant, 
Then came the sale of the New York plant. 

Why was that? 



91 



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Perelli-Minetti 



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Because the business wasn't there. The expenses were 
high and then labor trouble with the union; they wanted 
to force us to keep it going without any changes, as the 
plant was old-fashioned. California Wine Association, 
I believe, built it just after the earthquake. Now a 
tunnel goes right under it. 

California Wine Association built the Richmond plant 
in order to send their wines to New York by boat 50,000 
gallons at a time, which was quite a saving. 

Winehaven, was that it? 

Winehaven, yes. The New York plant was located close to 
the landing pier and the wine was pumped into the winery. 
In those days, all shipments of wine were made in barrels. 
California Wine Association figured out to ship the wine 
in bulk through the Panama Canal in to New York cheaper, 
thus making a profit for California Wine Association. At 
Winehaven, California Wine Association crushed grapes 
mostly from the Lodi district. California Wine Association 
had the Wahtoke and the Malaga plant, a huge one for those 
days. It's a cotton compressor now. California Wine 
Association had plants all over the state—had a plant in 
Gilroy, had one in Kingsburg. 

What was the history of that Kingsburg plant, 
the one that Louis Martini had at one time? 

That was Italian Swiss Colony. That was built by Pietro 
Rossi. Malesani was superintendent of that and then 
Malesani was transferred to Asti before Prati. Malesani 
was returned to Kingsburg. Prati took over. I had left 
already that country then. 

Italian Swiss Colony planted some 700 acres of vines 
somewhere in the Lemoore district, somewhere in that 
district, which was a failure in this: that the land 
compressed, strangled the vines. They all died. The same 
thing happened here in Terra Bella. The trunk above the 
ground would be say three inches in diameter; underneath 
it would be less than one inch and the vines would break 
off. An eastern corporation planted 5,000 acres of trees 
in the same district with the same result. There the 
Italian Swiss Colony had planted over 700 acres, which was 
a big planting in those days. 



Perelli-Minetti: 



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Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Teiser: 



92 



Then during Prohibition, Louis Martini made a deal 
with some people that were bean merchants. They put the 
capital and Louis Martini his knowledge, and received 
I believe one-third interest—a very intelligent person. 

During Prohibition a number of wineries continued operating. 

Many were selling wine. The wineries that were selling 
wine, they were selling legally, so to speak. You had to 
have some kind of permit for religious purposes, and so 
the companies that were doing that were very few. Now, 
California Wine Association was the biggest one. Guasti 
was a big one. Others bootlegged their wines, had fires 
and collected insurance. Many went out of business. 

Like Scatena* went out, and Oliveto Wine Company, and 
many others closed up when Prohibition came. Georges 
de Latour had a legitimate business because all his wine 
sold through the Catholic churches because of his connection 
with Christian Brothers. He had an established market 
before Prohibition came in. So when Prohibition came in 
he was able to sell all his wine, legally, to all the 
dioceses in the United States, at a big profit I was told. 
He had that beautiful vineyard and a very productive piece 
of land. I knew Georges de Latour. As a matter of fact, 
my father was dealing with his family for years and 
shipping wine to Georges' father in Burgundy, from my home 
town. 

One of the people I think who ceased operation during 
Prohibition was Raffaello Petri? Did you know him? 

I knew the grandfather of Louis, yes, I knew him well. 
He's the one who was buying all the grapes in Ukiah.** 
And after "19, he just withdrew. He got out. He operated 
mostly around San Francisco. 

I'm just asking you about some random people here. I think 
you were mentioning the Guild Wine Company. Did you know 
Mr. L.K. Marshall? 



Perelli-Minetti: Very well. 



*Scatena Brothers Wine Company 
**See p. 57. 



93 



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Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti; 

Teiser: 
Perelli-Minetti ; 

Teiser: 
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Everyone speaks highly of him, was he a very skilled...? 

He was an altruistic type of a man. He was a dreamer. And 
his dreams were too early for the times. He was not a very 
practical man. He died very young. I don't think he was 
even 60. Was a big man, a very influential man in the Lodi 
district. He knew how to dispose of wine, primarily. 

What did he try to do that was ahead of the time? 

Well, he was part of Fruit Industries at one time, didn't 
like it, and organized the Guild. 

Others were dissatisfied at that same time? 

Some was real, and some was purposely made to obtain a 
certain objective by an individual who thought that he 
could profit by it. 

May I ask you about the 1950 change in the California Wine 
Association? Your son Mario came in to succeed Mr. Walter 
E. Taylor. 

My son was in already. You see, when Mario graduated from 
Stanford, I was very friendly with Senator [William G.] 
McAdoo. So I asked Mr. McAdoo, "Would you take my son in 
your law department, corporation department, so he can get 
the inside of the function of the government and he can 
defend himself better when he practices law for himself?" 
He said, "Yes, why don't you send him over?" So I sent 
Mario to Washington. I said, "You go to the Senator, get 
all the detail you can how the government functions, then 
you'll know better how to operate your law office." He 
was with Senator McAdoo for two years, and every day he 
would take Mrs. McAdoo home in her car; he would drive 
her home. He used to be an usher at the White House balls 
because McAdoo was a big dancer; very handsome. (He was 
a tall man. When he married, I think he was 72. She was 
25, 26.) 

Mario stayed there two years, then he said to me, "Papa, 
it's time for me to come back." He interviewed every law 
firm in Los Angeles, and decided to go with Mr. Anderson, 
who had a small office in the financial building across the 
Bank of America at Seventh and Spring Streets, for whatever 
he could make; no salary. I would pay all his expenses 



94 



Perelli-Minetti: because, I said, "One thing don't do, don't join the 
District Attorney office because politics...." 

I told him what happened when we had the Anglo- 
California Wine Company. One of our customers was arrested 
for murder. His wife came to our San Francisco office, 
where I happened to be. I took her to T.C. Van Ness, the 
company lawyer, and explained what she had told me. Mr. 
Van Ness said, "I am a corporation lawyer. The best 
criminal lawyer in San Francisco is a young man by the 
name of Shapiro, but San Francisco is rotten. I advise 
you to go to Cook's office—a disbarred judge who had all 
the tongs' business in those days. The judge, when I 
tried to explain the case, said, "Never mind that. I know 
all about it. It will cost you $2,000--$500 this afternoon, 
$500 at the inquest, and the balance next month, and he will 
be out in three months." 

In Washington Mario learned that before going to court, 
a minute search of laws in the books was made, which came 
in handy to Mario when Mr. Anderson (who was gassed in 
World War I) represented Walt Disney in a case. In court 
he had a fainting. He said to Mario, "I think you'd better 
take it over, and I won't feel bad if you lose, because we 
can't win this case." 

So when the case was resumed the following week, Mario 
had charge of the case, and asked the judge to throw the 
case out on such-and-such a point of law. The judge said, 
"Wait a minute; now I want a week's time to check on that 
law." Mario gave him the number of the law. The following 
week, the Judge threw the case out and Walter Disney won 
the case. The other fellow wasn't prepared, but Mario was 
prepared because he had been trained in Washington in the 
law department where they go back a hundred years to follow 
up a case and they will never start that case until every 
angle is absolutely covered. And that's why he became 
really a good lawyer, and every suit he had in Los Angeles 
he won. But then when Prohibition had been repealed I said, 
"You are killing yourself for a few pennies. You come in 
the wine business." He said, "All right, Papa," so there 
you have it. And he applies the same methods acquired in 
Washington. He's very stubborn. He gets an idea, you 
can't change him, which probably is hereditary. 

Teiser: So he went with California Wine Association. . .when? 



95 



Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser : 
Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 

Perelli-Minetti: 

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Perelli-Minetti: 

Teiser: 
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It was toward the end of the '40's. He was assistant to 
Walter Taylor. 

And then he became... 

He became general manager when Walter Taylor withdrew.* 

And has been since. Am I right in believing that since 
the middle '30's, the California Wine Association has been 
a cooperative? 

It has been; it still is. It still is a cooperative. 
Is it a grower cooperative or a winemakers' cooperative? 

No, it's a sales agency for growers, strictly a grower 
sales agency. California Wine Association returns to the 
growers all the net received from the salo of the wine.** 

Where does the wine making function fit in then? 

The wine is made by the grower at his winery. He delivers 
to California Wine Association sound, merchantable wine. 
Otherwise California Wine Association will not accept it. 



CALIFORNIA WINE ASSOCIATION AND OTHER COOPERATIVES 



Teiser : 



Perelli-Minetti: 



Has the California Wine Association taken any new direction 
since about 1950 or '51? 

It is hard to have a lot of growers approve a new idea. 
The grower is responsible for non-performance of California 
Wine Association. He will pay the fine for non-delivery. 



*Walter E. Taylor resigned from the position of manager of 
California Wine Association (which was then operating as 
Fruit Industries, Ltd.) late in 1950. See footnote p. 76. 

**In December, 1970, the California Wine Association 
completed a reorganization from a cooperative to a 
California stock corporation and elected Antonio Perelli- 
Minetti president. 



96 



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Teiser: 



Perelli-Minetti : 



If the grape market was high, he would sell his grapes to 
the commercial organization in preference. That's been 
the failure of the wine co-ops in California. If the 
grape price were low and he a member of a cooperative, he 
would deliver all his grapes to it, so C.W.A. would be 
long on wine when prices were low and short when they 
were high. Many wine cooperatives are that way. The 
grower is his own enemy. For reasons of their own, 
especially small growers who could not wait for their 
money started to withdraw from their co-ops. 

C.W.A. had eleven members* at one time. That's where 
the Eleven Cellars label came in. A survey was made, 
spent $20,000; I was opposed to it because we should have 
a better label than that. But anyway... 

When was that, about? 

It was after Walter Taylor left and the C.W.A. did not 
have eleven members. The members that had withdrawn 
demanded payment of their revolving fund; quite a drain on 
C.W.A., left with a reduced number of members and reduced 
operating capital. Then all discarded caps, labels, 
showing [display] materials, etcetera, carried on the 
books as an asset of C.W.A. (many hundred of dollars) was 
written off, and shouldered by the remaining growers. 
That brought on the question of whether C.W.A. had to be 
liquidated in 1960. 

I went to San Francisco, and at the meeting I said, 
"No, we don't liquidate." I convinced Lodi Winery, Jack 
Durrell not to liquidate. Cherokee and Delano Growers 
voted to liquidate. Delano Growers pulled out and Cherokee 
stayed in. C.W.A. had only five or six thousand tons of 
grapes by the three members when it needed 40,000 tons. 

I said, "We'll supply the 40,000 tons." So the 
company picked up again. Now in the last eight years, 



*The eleven members were Cherokee Vineyard Association, 
Community Grape Corporation, Cucamonga Growers Cooperative 
Winery, Delano Growers Cooperative Winery, Florin Winery 
Association, Lodi Winery, Inc., Mokelumne Winery, A. 
Perelli-Minetti & Sons, Rancho del Oso Winery, Sonoma 
Cooperative Winery, and the Woodbridge Vineyard Association. 












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whatever it is, nine years, we've been supplying 25,000, 
40,000, 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 tons, all the needs of 
C.W.A. And if they need 100,000, we'll supply 100,000. 
So our revolving fund built up quickly. Now C.W.A. has 
refused applications for membership. 

How many members are there now? 

There's only three. Lodi Winery wanted to sell, we bought 
all their inventory and revolving fund, Lodi maintaining 
their vote until the inventory was all sold. Now only 
three. Now Cherokee that voted in favor of liquidation 
are happy that they remained in. But the trouble with 
Cherokee is that its own growers prefer to pay the $5 
penalty and sell their best grapes to Gallo or somebody 
else, and so they kill their own co-op. Cherokee used to 
put 30,000 tons of grapes into C.W.A., now only puts 
2,000 tons. So we've helped Cherokee by having them make 
some wine for C.W.A. on a fixed price. Practically, we've 
been supporting C.W.A., because we know it's a good company 
and the results have shown it. 

When you have such a small number of growers, does it still 
classify as a cooperative? 

Oh, yes, doesn't make any difference. It was a cooperative 
and it's still a cooperative, although you cannot organize 
a cooperative with less than five. 

Well, that's what I wondered, so... 

But it's still a cooperative and the status of the coopera 
tive cannot be changed, I presume. At one time I wanted 
to change A. Perelli-Minetti & Sons from a cooperation to 
a cooperative, which a family could do. Even if they are 
members of the same family, they can join in a cooperative 
form. But then the Internal Revenue told me, we'll charge 
you 52 per cent on your profit because we consider this 
a subterfuge to get away from paying the taxes. I said, 
"It is a fact that that is one of the purposes." The 
cooperative doesn't pay tax, but the member that gets the 
money, he pays taxes, see. But the point was this: the 
Perelli-Minetti cooperative would not pay tax, but the 
members, the family, they would pay individual tax when 
distribution was made, and the savings would build the 
operating capital. I am sorry we didn't do it because 
if we had done it, we may not have had the trouble with 



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Uncle Sam on the water. But we didn't anticipate then, 
as it was way before the canal was built. There was no 
talk even of building a canal then, but we felt that 
making a cooperative of the family would assure its 
security. 

You were just operating from wells? 
Yes. 

At some point California Wina Association pulled out of 
the Wine Institute. Was that in connection with this 
whole reorganization? 

No. It was because of the policy of the Wine Institute. 
We withdrew before, because we didn't like the policy 
of the Wine Institute. They were all one-sided. They 
begged us to go back, but we are not going back because... 

You're not? 

No. Until they change their policy. The Wine Institute 

should be impartial and should be for the wine industry 

and not to benefit a minority number. Now, that's the 
point. The issue is that. 

I see. You feel that it favors some people? 

Yes, because the one that pays the most is a dominating 
figure. 

Did you feel that when it started it was a valid industry 
effort? 

It was. It was. I don't know if we were charter members, 
but we joined at the beginning of it. 

I think you withdrew about the time there was some strife 
in the organization. 

Yes. When politics enters into an organization of that 
type, that's the end of it. That was the same thing with 
C.W.A. There are politics in the management, among the 
growers, and that spells the end of a co-op. And then you 
have other cooperatives; they would induce growers to join 
them because Lodi is a limited area, and where most of the 



99 



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cooperatives belonging to C.W.A. were located. There 
were many cooperatives before the Guild came in and 
induced growers to join them, to the loss of others, and 
then in many instances undersell to gain a market to the 
grower's loss. 

Has the total wine grape acreage increased since that 
time? 

Oh yes, the acreage has increased tremendously. 
In the Lodi district, or...? 
Not in the Lodi district. 
But in the Central Valley? 

In the Central Valley. The growth has been from Tulare 
down. When I came here there were hardly any grapes 
planted. I built the first winery and the second winery 
here, and this is the third one I built in Delano. This 
district had relatively small acreage, but today I figure 
it produces about 250,000 tons if not more. And the 
planting is here. 

Do you think more land will be brought in in this area? 

Oh yes. More land, absolutely. 

So there's not going to be a shortage of vineyard land? 

No. Even the Kern Land Company went into the vineyards. 
They have large vineyards. Setrakian has a thousand acres 
there, I think, or it may be a couple thousand. Lanza 
has a thousand acres or more at Kern Land Company. They 
won't sell the land. The renter plants the vineyard; 
after so many years, it reverts back to Kern Land Company. 

That's Kern County Land? 
That is right. It was sold.* 
Was it technically a cooperative? 



*To Tenneco, Inc. 



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Oh, no. Never was. That's commercial. Commercial that 
is run on a strict commercial basis, and they are very 
tough people, intelligent people. 

Does Mr. Setrakian make wine? 
Oh, yes. Cal-Gro Winery.* 
Sells it in bulk? 

Mostly bulk. And then he makes a brandy too. He made a 
deal with Gallo, makes a brandy for Gallo under contract, 
because Gallo never made any brandy. I don't know the 
reason why, but... And at one time, Gallo wanted to buy 
C.W.A. mostly because of their brandy business. I was 
in favor of selling to him, not C.W.A., but the brandy 
business, but the children were opposed. Maybe it's for 
the best; I don't know. 

Well, you have an entity to preserve, your family entity. 

Yes, but in the sale with Gallo, we would have been 
producing the brandy for Gallo. Instead of producing 
the brandy for C.W.A., we'd have produced it for Gallo., 
who would have furnished all capital for it. But now the 
way things are, we're practically C.W.A. Nominally, we 
are not because it's a co-op, and while we supply 90 per 
cent of the wine and brandy to C.W.A., we have only one 
vote against the two, which makes it tough. 

Do the other two supply much of the dry wine? 

Very little. We crush Jack Durrell's requirement for him 
and deliver the wine to C.W.A. under his name, whatever 
the amount is. 



California Growers Wineries 



THE A. PERELLI-MINETTI & SONS WINERY 



101 



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Perelli-Minetti : 



Are you producing table wines in this plant? 

Oh yes, couple of million gallons. With the small exception 
of what is produced in Lodi at Cherokee, and Napa and 
Sonoma purchases, we produce all of it here. 

As we were walking around here yesterday, you were telling 
something of the background of this winery, and I should 
have brought my tape recorder along. Would you tell us 
the story of this winery again? I think you explained 
when we were taping yesterday the original buying of land 
and bringing it into production.* 

Well, at that time I split with Wallace, I always wanted 

to get by the railroad for its facilities, and the freeway. 

When I split with Wallace, I had to have a winery of my 

own. I felt that the association with Wallace could not 

go on. Wallace started to complain from the very beginning that 

I didn't know anything about the wine. I wanted to produce 

a continuity of business, establish a business on a 

permanent basis. So then I started to buy this land before 

I split with Wallace. 

When I started buying this badlands it was very cheap, 
and with one idea first in mind: as industrial land, for 
industrial purposes. Because Delano is at the northern 
end of Kern County. Kern County has better tax facilities, 
more up-to-date and more push than Tulare County. And 
this, because of the railroad and freeway, made land valuable. 

We have a ranch in Tulare County, just this side of 
Earlimart, where I first was going to put the winery. Then 
I figured I'd better come down here, because that was in 
Tulare County and I didn't like to go in Tulare County. 
That's when Wallace offered to put a winery on his place, 
claimed he had all kinds of money. Naturally, having no 
money, I figured it was a good opportunity. And when I 
figured the association with Wallace was doomed, I 
started buying this land. And then when we split, I had 



*See pp. 65-67. 



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the land here, and started 
land was extremely alkali, 
is acid and would in time 
Now this is the best land, 
free of alkali. And that's 
here, between two towns on 
We have a tunnel under the 
side, where we own a large 
winery water there. 



to build the winery. All the 
but the refuse of the winery 
neturalize all the alkali, 
rich land; it's practically 
the way we built the winery 
the highway and the railroad, 
highway, goes clear to the other 
vineyard and can send the 



How many acres have you now? 

Twenty five hundred. 

You added gradually? 

Yes. 

You mentioned your winery tanks. 

Those tanks there, those are the first black iron bolted 
tanks that were constructed in California for the wine. 
Then Cella followed. Those are black iron, but now they 
are coated inside. Like Gallo's; Gallo's are all black iron. 
So are United Vintners'. Now those six big tanks over 
there, those are all stainless steel. Those two big ones, 
200,000 gallons each, are stainless steel and used for 
brandy, where it's blended and then barreled as one batch. 
Our program is to have all stainless steel. Now these 
first two black iron tanks here have been coated; they 
were coated last year on an experimental basis for 
$19,000. Because they are bolted, we just gambled. No 
guarantee that it would work, but we had to take the chance 
because we have several bolted black iron tanks. 

What kind of a coating is it? 

It's epoxy. It was done by a man named Know land. The 
difficulty is the bolts, and the rubber material, washers, 
and then the joints overlap. These tanks have been 
sprayed with a couple of inches of material. When sprayed 
on, the material puffs up, makes a perfect insulation, so 
that the tanks at the same time are insulated against high 
temperature. And then over that insulating material it's 
coated with epoxy. Because of that it makes a better 
binding and will not flake like it does on an iron tank, 
where the sun temperature reaches up to 160-170°. 



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It makes the tank suitable for dry wine. But the 
floor, that's where we have to worry, because stepping on 
it will destroy the epoxy. So now we're going to have 
a different floor entirely, because most of our outside 
old cooperage are bolted tanks. 

You said you were an early user of concrete tanks? 

The first concrete tanks here in California after Repeal, 
I think Cella built them. His brother-in-law was a 
builder, [Louis] Franceschi. But we built the first 
concrete tank for alcohol, by an Act of Congress. 



When was that? 

Oh that was very early, 
the plant here. 



This was in 1936, when we built 



And you put up just one building at first? 

The first building and the distillery at the same time, yes, 

So you definitely decided on brandy immediately? 

Yes. First we needed a distillery to make sweet wine. 

You didn't use it for brandy then at the beginning? 

Yes, we made a brandy for C.W.A. We made brandy, and we 
made alcohol. From the same still we could produce both. 
The brandy distillery we built to make brandy for C.W.A. 
Before this was built, we made it at the Wallace plant. 
The label read, "Produced by A. Perelli-Minetti & Sons 
and bottled by Fruit Industries." We were getting free 
advertisement, so the other members killed that. Fruit 
Industries had to have a change of law in Washington 
before they could do that, but they did it. But then 
when we built this plant, we made a brandy for ourselves, 
too. We sold it in bulk. 

Did you ever have a Perelli-Minetti label? 

No. We're liable to have one one of these days, but not 
yet. To put a label on the market is very costly, and 
we haven't the money to do it. The advertising, unless 
you put in so much money a case, you can't succeed easily. 



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We need the money for many other things. We have to have 
a million and a half dollars to build a bottling plant. 
We haven't got that type of money, but we're going to get 
it. We can borrow it. But we have to be cautious when 
we spend that type of money, because the five concrete 
brandy warehouses that alone cost over a million dollars 
have been built with borrowed money. 

You were showing us yesterday the way that you have changed 
your aging of brandy, the storage? 

We saw at Hiram Walker barrels piled up on end. 
On end, with plywood between? 
That's right. 
Not racks. 

Not racks. Hiram Walker made an experiment on how far the 
barrels underneath could stand. They concluded 20 barrels 
one on top of the other without cracking the barrels 
underneath was safe. 

What capacity are these barrels? 

About 50 gallons. We age it at 125 proof, which experience 
has shown to be the best for results. 

The warehouses contain close to 100,000 barrels. 
Some of those were scattered in different warehouses because 
C.W.A. did not have any, and the brandy age goes up to ten 
years. It is blended, processed, and reduced to 80 proof 
for bottling. Except A.R. Morrow label is bottled at 100 
proof. But the processing of both brandies is the same. 

You said that the cost of the racks... 

...is more than the cost of the building. And not only 
that, but when you stack up barrels on end, you get about 
25 per cent more space. Therefore the cost of the building 
per barrel is cheaper. 

What year did the government finally give you permission 
to use that technique? 



Perelli-Minetti: Last year. For two years before, we had a small amount of 



105 



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barrels stacked up for which we were getting hell from 
the government, but we just took the hell and held the 
stack in place. Fortunately, and I say that with a great 
deal of pride, I think we have one of the best standings 
with the government, as far as the alcohol department, 
of any winery in California. Because we have never done 
anything outside of the law. 

Perhaps they respect a plant that's clearly well maintained, 

That isn't so much the plant the way it's maintained; it 
is the operations that are strictly carried out within the 
law. 

I think one of the other pioneering techniques that you've 
used, that was mentioned when we were walking around, was 
the Rietz disintegrator? 

Yes. That was in 1951. 

How did you happen to try it? 

Well, Mr. [Carl A.] Rietz came in. 

He was a very persuasive man; I remember him. 

I said, "Let's try it." So we took a few boxes of grapes 
and went to his place, in Oakland, I think. That time 
only Emperor grapes were available. The juice of the 
Emperor is white, the old-fashioned crush. With the Rietz, 
it's pink, like rose 1 wine, because its color is extracted 
from the skins. So we figured that would be an advantage 
with the black grapes, the way it extracted the color, a 
beautiful performance, so we ordered then and there a 
Rietz disintegrator. 

At that time we had purchased two Valley Foundry 
disintegrators, different from the Rietz. The crushers, 
such as we know them, throw out some juice, skins, pulp 
and every raisin that came with the grapes --which, even 
figured at a dollar less per ton, would amount to a loss 
of $30,000, as we crushed 30,000 tons of grapes. The year 
we put in the Rietz we sold for $1,200 the two first Valley 
disintegrators that cost $15,000. Considering the savings 
with the Rietz, we still saved $15,000 the first year we 
put the Rietz in. 



106 



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Then we worked out a deal and a contract with Rietz 
whereby for any machine sold in California to the wineries 
we would split the profit. Some wineries that purchased 
the Rietz did not use them the way we did. Rietz refused 
to split the profit on the sale of his machine. I said, 
"What the hell; we are not in the business of selling 
machines." 

During the years of operation we learned many things 
about the Rietz as the most convenient way for a determinate 
purpose, and while better than the old crushers, we still 
had a problem of separating the stems in order to put 
through the still the residues without being forced to use 
the screens that reduced the grapes to fine pulp. 

Then Valley Foundry came with a new disintegrator 
of which we now have three, two in operation and one as a 
standby. It makes an ideal combination, produces no losses, 
and permits the still to operate for a month or so without 
being forced to clean it every other day, as we had to do 
before we installed the new Valley disintegrators. When 
you consider that the daily capacity of the winery is 
practically predicated on the capacity of the stills, it 
is easy to appreciate the benefits by the use of the Rietz 
as we use it now, just as a crusher, and Valley for removing 
every stem filament from the crushed grapes. Besides the 
alcohol still, we have a brandy still with a capacity of 
500 barrels per day. 

Have you worked out any other new techniques? 

Well, I don't know what you could say. You mean referring 
to the intake of the grapes, or in the total operation? 

Any aspect of it. 

Well, we operate differently from other wineries. As soon 
as the crushed grapes reach the tank we start draining the 
juice, which increases the capacity of the tank by the 
juice that is removed. In a tank that has a capacity of 
800 tons we crush almost 2,000 tons, because as the grapes 
are crushed the juice is drained practically at the same 
time. 

There is a great deal of improvement we visualize, 
but haven't got the money and must be cautious on 
expenditures, because we could spend here $3,000,000. Let 



107 



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me say this, that whenever we can see a dollar saving in 
operation by spending two dollars initially, we do so if 
we have the money, because that expenditure which takes 
place only once produces every year thereafter a saving 
that returns handsome profit. We have always felt that 
way. But when it takes too long a time to return the 
investment, we refrain from doing it. 

Now when we crushed a small tonnage, we used to freeze 
all the juice. It would ferment completely in about 
fifteen days absolutely unattended. It produced better 
wine, and higher alcohol, because by the time all the sugar 
was fermented out the temperature barely reached 70*. It 
would take too many tanks to do it now when you consider 
that at present fermentation is accomplished in two or 
three days, besides the cooling machines. Money—always 
money. It costs money to watch and control temperature 
now twice a day, and samples must be brought to the 
laboratory. That throws us back to the old-fashioned way 
of doing it. But one of these days, we have to do it. Now 
we finish and stabilize the wines that before C.W.A. did, 
and we had to make great expenditures, because C.W.A. 
requested each member to finish its own wines. 

Oh, then you gave up the Minnesota Street plant in San 
Francisco? 

Yes, and the Guasti plant. Most of the wines were finished 
in both places. Now the wines are finished by the member 
winery. You can easily figure what it has meant for A. 
Perelli-Minetti & Sons, that contributed 90 per cent of 
C.W.A. wines. Demands for filters, demands for refrigera 
tion, demands for pasteurization, all types of equipment 
that go into the finishing, although we seldon pasteurize 
the wines. The new filter alone cost us $17,000. And 
the new big plant we bought last year. 

What plant was it? 

The refrigeration plant. Before, we were always behind 
supplying the wine to C.W.A. and its bulk sales customers. 
Now we can supply the wine as fast as C.W.A. calls for it. 
But we are short of cooperage. We make a blend, fill up 
a tank, and until that blend is all shipped, that tank 
is frozen so to speak, even if it contains 4,000 or 10,000 
gallons and its capacity is actually 180,000. When many 



108 



Perelli-Minetti: of the tanks are so frozen, it makes it hard to operate 
during the vintage. We're figuring how to put in a 
million gallons additional, at a cost of $250,000, and 
also a bottling plant.* 

Then brandy. We have 900,000 gallons of stainless 
steel and glass-lined tanks to receive and store the 
brandy as it is produced, which is faster than we can 
barrel. Barreling is done as we dump brandy for the 
bottling. Otherwise we would have to buy barrels and 
build additional warehouse space. This way, by keeping 
the brandy in the big tanks, as we empty the barrels we 
refill them. Now we can make blends of up to 180,000 
gallons and fill the barrels and stack them up some 2,600 
barrels in each stack. One blend. It is cheaper to 
operate that way than before with batches of 150 barrels 
only, scattered all over the five warehouses. There is a 
saving too as the barrels are refilled before they dry 
up. Although it isn't much, it's always a couple of 
dollars. Those are the things, the little things, that 
sink or keep the ship afloat. 

As time goes on--we expect to do away with all the 
wooden racks and use the space for barrels stacked on 
end only. 



*A new 300 by 430 foot building having bottling lines and 
storage area was completed in autumn, 1971. 



109 



(Interview #4 - At San Francisco - May 28, 1969) 



GIUSEPPE PERELLI-MINETTI 



Teiser : 



Perelli-Minetti 



Teiser: 
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These subjects are not in order. They came to me as I 
listened to the other tapes, so I'll just ask questions 
and skip around as necessary. Your daughter Jean told us 
that you had a story about your father trying to corner 
the wine market in Italy. 

My father with Francesco Cino, inventor of the tank cars 
for wine, and others had cornered the grape market for 
shipment to France, in the expectation the treaty would 
be renewed, which had been in force in consequence of 
the havoc of phylloxera that destroyed all the vineyards 
of France. The group had contracted all the grapes for 
sale to France, and naturally to Italy too. But in fact 
the treaty was not renewed. The group lost millions. It 
broke many. 

Cino was the inventor of the tank car, that supplied 
the country with the transportation of wine, and I believe 
my father had some connection there. 

In Italy? 

Italy. When my father returned home after he fought the 
war of independence with Garibaldi... 

He fought with Garibaldi? 

He ran away from home when he was 14. 

My word --everybody in your family ran away from home! 

It seems that way. 



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110 



How long was he with Garibaldi? 

It must have been six years, at the least, or eight. 
Garibaldi's army was disbanded after Rome was taken, 
and my father came home. 

In those days transportation was very bad. I think 
my father was the first man, so he used to tell me, to 
take grapes from the Romagnole Province (Bologna is the 
center) and with oxen drive open carts all the way to 
Milano. 

Then he patented collapsible boxes—and containers 

to transport wine, crushed grapes and water, of the same 

material as the bags that are carried on the front of cars 
with water. 

Those bags that cool by evaporation? 

Yes. My father had patented that. I'll send you a letter 
head where he shows all the things.* When the war with 
Abyssinia took place, my father furnished the Italian 
government with bags for the mules and for the soldiers. 
Italy lost the war, and we never were paid. If the govern 
ment had to pay us at today's rate what they owed then 
with interest, there wouldn't be enough money in Italy to 
pay us. 

Your father's financial reverses then- 
Financial reverses started as the result of having joined 
the group that tried to corner the grapes with the 
assurance that the treaty would be renewed with France. 
Now the group cornered the market and had to resell the 
grapes at heavy losses in Italy. That's why many went 
broke. The entry to France was blocked; the treaty was 
not renewed, so they were left with all the grapes to sell. 

What year was that? 



Perelli-Minetti: Oh, I believe 1880. 

Teiser: That was not connected with his coming to the United States? 



*See Appendix. 



Ill 



Perelli-Minetti: 

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No. Oh, that was long before. 

How did he happen to come here? 

He came on a visit and we wouldn't let him go back. 

Why not? 

Well, he was alone, and the family and all the children 
were here and we thought this was the place for him. 

I see—personal. 

Yes. Keep the family together. There were six children, 
and the six of us were in California. 

Had he by then sold... 

He had disposed of everything. 



EARLY LEADERS OF ITALIAN SWISS COLONY 



Teiser: 



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You were speaking of Mr. P.C. Rossi. These were the men 
that you had lunch with when you first came here: Mr. 
Rossi, Mr. Sbarboro... 

As I remember, Mr. P.C. Rossi and Mr. Andrea Sbarboro 
were the active leaders of Italian Swiss Colony, and Mr. 
Fontana was a big stockholder, dedicated to the canning 
industry.* 

You made some mention earlier of Mr. Rossi and described 
him a little, but would you characterize him? 

It is hard, but to me he was a wonderful man, dynamic, 
very handsome, very polished, big man. A man who would 
impress you. Had a little beard. Do you know who his 
wife was? 



No. 



*See pp. 10-11. 



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She was a Catholic, with a Genovese mother. I was told 
Mr. Rossi had joined the Masons, so he had to give up the 
Masonry to marry her. Mrs. Rossi's family had a chemical 
store on Market Street. I have forgotten the name. And 
they owned Santa Cruz Island.* They had a winery there, 
and they made there beautiful wine. God I what wine! 

Did they grow grapes on the island? 

Oh yes; beautiful] 

I never heard of that. 

Well, so you are learning something new. 

I am learning something constantly from you! 

P.C. Rossi's children sold the island. I met the new 
owner through our bank because he was considering 
replanting the grapes, and fixing up the cooperage, and 
making wine. He made a million selling axles to Ford, but 
I don't know what he paid for the island. Then he sold 
the casks and everything else. He didn't go into making 
wine. 

There were 14 children in the Rossi family, just 
three boys, including Carlo,** the youngest of the family. 
He joined the Jesuits, in punishment he was sent to 
Brazil because he had ultra modern ideas. He used to 
sell chemicals for Stauffer Chemical Company, and he used 
to come to Delano. We always had lunch together when he 
came to Delano. One day he said to me, "Well, this is my 
last time because I'm getting married." Then all of a 
sudden the marriage didn't take place. 

The girls, I think only two are married. Most of the 
rest are all in the convents. Albina I think got married. 
Esther never married; she's the oldest one of the sisters.*** 



*Justinian Caire. The island is one of the Santa Barbara 
Channel Islands. 

**P. Carlo Rossi. 

***She died March 29, 1968. 



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Oh, a handsome girl, beautiful woman. The first one, 
Maria, married an attorney, [Ambrose] Gherini. She had 
some children. They went to Stanford; I think one of the 
girls at the same time one of my girls was there. 

Was Mr. P.C. Rossi a domineering sort of man? 

In business? Or in the family? 

Either. 

I think in the family he was not. Oh, he was a very 
kind man, even in business. 1 mean, with his help he 
was a very kind man. As far as I am concerned, he was 
very kind and very generous. Oh I didn't agree when he 
told me that they were not paying the same to the 
Italians as the Americans,* but I didn't take into 
consideration that that weigh master was a temporary job 
for three months and we were steady. But you know, the 
way Mr. Rossi put it, I didn't like it. I mean, you can 
say something... 

Well, I gather Mr. Rossi wasn't used to saying things 
wrong. 

He was strict because you have to be strict in business, 
but as far as I'm concerned he was very, very generous, 
very mild. I never heard him talk loud to a man. He 
would call him and say, "You are doing this wrong; you 
should do it different because..." 

I remember one time they had two tanks for sherry, 
made out of oak. The tanks had been idle the year 
probably, and when the wine was being pumped in them, 
you couldn't stop it from leaking on the floor. And 
Mr. Rossi came over there and he was pretty excited, but 
he wasn't rough at all with the men, and I was one of 
them. Anybody else might have just taken a stave and... 
But he didn't do it. He said, "You shouldn't have put 
the wine in." I said, "I had order to pump the wine 
regardless." 

Everybody in the Asti Colony** liked him; there was 
no question about it. 



*See p. 20. 

**Italian Swiss Colony at Asti. 



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114 



Someone mentioned that at Asti now, the land around the 
winery isn't very good, gives low yields. 

Most of the land was never any good; it produced very 
little. 

During Prohibition, California Wine Association 
started selling all their wineries. We were offered 
Italian Swiss Colony, the winery and the land, for 
$115,000. We wouldn't take it. We wouldn't buy it 
because it's a big lemon. Now, originally they had about 
1,500-2,000 acres. If you produced an average of half a 
ton to the acre, it was pretty good. In the early days, 
trainloads of manure were shipped from San Francisco 
where all the drayage was done by horses. The American 
Express and other drayage companies had tremendous stables, 
supervised by a veterinary. All its manure went to Asti 
and was spread over the land, but the only fertile, 
productive land was that by the river and Chianti. 

How would you characterize Andrea Sbarboro? 



Perelli-Minetti: He was a very forceful man. He made three trips to 

Washington to plead against Prohibition. Published quite 
a number of pamphlets showing why Prohibition shouldn't 
affect dry wine. And he was right. Table wine is food. 
But you know, the way the Protestant churches helped to 
enact Prohibition. The churches are responsible for 
closing the red light districts here [San Francisco], which 
whether you like it or not, are a necessity, especially 
in a seaport in country like this where many people don't 
speak English. There never was a rape in the history 
of San Francisco. I think one time an attempt was made 
and the fellow quietly hung that same day. 

I was very friendly with a police captain because he 
used to come up to Pop Macray. In those days the summer 
resorts were reached by train and stages. Arrangement 
for the two week stay of your vacation had to be made one 
year ahead. Pop Macray was the other side of Cloverdale. 
And the place of interest for Pop Macray to take the 
customers in a stage was to Asti. I used to show them 
through the winery, that is how I became very friendly 
with this captain. When the law that closed the red light 
was passed--! think it went in effect in the month of 
July, I don't remember the year--* 



*1917 



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The Red Light Abatement Act, it was called. 

That's right. During the month of August in the Bay area 
there were 112 rapes, mostly of children. And since then 
it has gone up and gone up and gone up, and today a girl 
never knows when she is safe, not even in her home. You 
can't stop prostitution. It's one of the things that 
nobody can cope with. And not only that, but the other 
effect; you had less divorces then than now. When a 
married man wasn't satisfied at home, you know, he'd just 
go there, satisfy himself, go home, and everything was 
okay. Family was more united. But now, what happens? 

Of course, in those days, the women didn't work. 
Very few women. I mean the office workers were all men. 
Very few offices had women secretaries. P.C. Rossi had one, 
But World War 1 made the change. But naturally when a 
woman works and finds herself in many cases superior to 
the man and earns more money, belittles the man, and 
well, the man says, "What the-- just as well get out." 

Mr. Sbarboro, was he actively involved in the winery? 



He was president 



Oh yes. He was secretary of the company, 
of the Italian-American Bank. 

Did he spend much time up at Asti? 



He came up every weekend with Mr. Rossi. As a matter of 
fact, he built a home there. That house by the river, Mr. 
Sbarboro built that. 

Who were the other people up there who were principals 
in it? 

Well, Dr. [Paolo] de Vecchi. His daughter is still alive. 
He had one daughter. I think she lives in New York. 

What was his function? 

I don't think he was very active, but he was a shareholder. 
He was a young doctor. I think he married a Follis* girl. 



*Margaret Follis. They also had two sons. 



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She had some ailment and had been taken all over the 
world and couldn't find what it was. And it just was a 
simple thing. They said, "All right you have cured her, 
now you marry her." He married her and got millions besides. 

I think you mentioned Mr. Enrico Prati. 
He came in after I left, years after. 
Did you know him? 

Oh, very well. He was a good administrator. He took 
charge of the whole company. He married one of the 
Seghesio girls. Then I think Seghesio bought part of 
Italian Swiss Colony. That was the Chianti property 
which adjoined his, about four or five miles south of 
Asti. I think when Allegrini died, I had already left. 
So Prati came after Allegrini died. He was a good manager, 
no question about that. His son married the Rolandi girl. 
[F.S.] Rolandi, the one who built the Stockton tunnel.* 
Prati had a boy and a girl. The mother is still living, 
the Seghesio girl. 

You mentioned Mr. Sophus Federspiel. 

He was the general manager for Italian Swiss Colony. 

What sort of man was he? 

He was a very forceful man. He was a German, you know. 

Was he born in Germany? 

I don't think so. 

German character though? 

German character. 

Was he a good wine man? 

I did not think so at that time, but he was a good 
administrator. 



*The Stockton Street tunnel in San Francisco. 



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Did he understand the wine business? 

Oh, yes, from top to bottom. Had to. After Italian Swiss 
Colony was taken over by C.W.A., Mr. Federspiel joined 
in with Lanza. Then Prohibition came. He joined in with 
Lanza, and they joined Fruit Industries. Then they with 
drew and Mr. Federspiel went in business by himself.* 

Why did they go out of Fruit Industries? 

Like anything else, you join something hoping that that 
is the best thing you can do. But after you get in, then 
possibly you feel that you can do better by yourself and 
you leave. That's what happened. Things in Fruit 
Industries weren't what they should have been; there's 
no question about that. 



EARLY LEADERS IN FRUIT INDUSTRIES 



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Someone said that Garrett and Guasti held over half interest 
in Fruit Industries. 

No, that is wrong. Fruit Industries was a co-op, a sales 
cooperative. Everybody had one vote. Each member had 
one director and one vote. Now Garrett dominated by the 
force of personality and because they had the sales. 
[Paul] Garrett was a tremendous salesman. He had the 
best sales force in the United States in the wine business 
in those days. He produced Virginia Dare. They had a 
big plant in Brooklyn. But then they withdrew. Guasti 
had a large interest in one way, but not the largest, 
because when it comes to quantity, some of the other 
cooperatives like Cherokee and Community delivered the 
product of more grapes to Fruit Industries than Guasti. 
Guasti was limited to their own production, 15,000, 16,000 
tons, while Cherokee used to deliver the wine of some 
30,000 tons or more. 



*Sophus Federspiel was with Italian Swiss Colony from 1889 
to 1916. He joined H.O. Lanza in Colonial Grape Products 
in 1920. In 1935 there was a separation of interests. 



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So they had a bigger stake in it? 

They had a bigger stake. After Garrett withdrew, Guasti 
dominated, because Guasti was a powerful company. They 
had money, while the growers didn't have any. So the 
growers just went along, and that's the point. 

What was Paul Garrett like personally? 

Very dominating figure. He would get up, write a letter 
at two o'clock in the morning. He'd say that his best 
ideas came at three o'clock in the morning when he was in 
his twilight sleep. And he wrote a letter insulting a 
Mr. Rogers, who was an attorney, had a big winery in 
Fresno. Then he repented because Mr. Rogers sued him 
for libel, and he had to pay heavily. 

Mr. Garrett bought the Tarpey winery for $80,000 
after Prohibition. He overlooked the drainage of the 
winery. So after the first vintage, Tarpey told him he 
could not drain into their creek because it would spoil 
their vineyard. He got so mad that he sold back to 
Tarpey the plant for $5,000. So there you have the type 
of man he was. If he could fight, he'd fight. If he 
couldn't fight, he'd just give up and walk out, to avoid 
going crazy. He had a tremendous temper. He would say, 
"I don't know anything about wine, don't know anything 
about anything. Hell, I just sell, and for what I don't 
know I hire a man to do the job for me, and that's all I 1 
Well, he knew a hell of a lot about wine, of course, 
because you can't be a good salesman without knowing the 
product. 



THE GUASTI VINEYARDS 



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You told us a story about the time you went down to the 
Guasti vineyards... 

Yes, I was a consultant. 

Could you tell it again, so we could put it on the tape? 

Well, when we formed Fruit Industries, at that time the 
meetings were held in Guasti headquarters in Los Angeles, 



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although [Walter E.] Taylor operated in San Francisco. 
But the official headquarters were in Los Angeles, and 
every month we met there. One time young Guasti asked 
me if I would take a look at the vineyards as their yield 
was very low, to which I agreed. 

This is Secondo Guasti, Junior? Was this after the death 
of Secondo, Senior? 

Oh, quite many years after his father's death. While 
Guasti II was president and largest stockholder of the 
company, [James A.] Barlotti was actually the power behind 
the throne. Guasti was a nice young man, but his mother 
wanted him to be at the plant at eight o'clock. He had 
married a rich girl. The wife kept him out 'til two 
o'clock in the morning. Well, he died when he was 42. 
Her name was Orcutt. Her father was president of the 
Union Oil Company of Los Angeles.* 

So Guasti asked you to help him? 

To take a look after the vineyard . And I used to go there 
a couple of times a month, go on Saturday and get away on 
Monday. Then at the request of Guasti and Barlotti I 
bought some shares in the company so I could have a voice 
at the company meetings, because they were having lots 
of trouble in the company. Guasti was the majority 
stockholder and the minority stockholders would always 
fight, as they didn't think it was run right. At that 
time the company had decided to sell. I had the money to 
buy it; that is, the bank would finance it. But then I 
decided not to. And so I let Lanza buy it. 

Was there a company named Post and Klusman that leased 
it for a time there? 

Post? Oh, no. Colonel [Morton] Post had a winery and a 
large vineyard facing the Foothill Blvd. My brother Julius, 
Scatena, and Lawson were operating the vineyard and the 
winery and had an option to buy it. And at the last minute 
they did not, which was a terrible mistake. And Garrett 
bought it.** Philo Biane's father was the superintendent 



*W.W. Orcutt. See also p. 73. 
**Just before Prohibition. 



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Perelli-Minetti: before Garrett joined Fruit Industries.* 

Teiser: I see. So that wasn't part of the Guasti holdings. 

Perelli-Minetti: No, no. no. 



Teiser: 



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You told about correcting wind damage for the Guasti 
vineyard by cutting down trees? 

No, no, I didn't say correcting any damage, but eliminating 
the cause of the damage. The land there is so circumvented 
by big trees to hold the wind back. And during the years 
the sand accumulated, and the vines would be covered up by 
sand. Consequently it would take 50 people to do the 
pruning, and 150 people to uncover the vines. When I 
went down there, by chance there was a horrible sand storm 
that took the paint off the side of the car. I took a 
blanket, put it over me, and went behind the church by the 
railroad track. And I sat there. And I noticed that the 
sand would hit the trees and fall down. I said to myself, 
if the trees weren't there the sand would go straight on. 
To convince Guasti and Barlotti to take those trees down 
was something to remember. The eucalyptus were 100 feet 
high, had been there for, I don't know, 70 years, 80 years. 
I had that row of trees taken down, and this big sand hill 
in one year was cleared out. 

The vines had trunks 15 or more feet, which had to 
be cut down. This was caused by the sand falling down 
as it covered the vines, and every year more and more the 
sand piled up. The vines' crown was a couple of feet 
above the ground. Guasti complained about the damage the 
sand did, as it cut to pieces the grapes up to a certain 
height, with big losses. I said to myself, "There is 
something wrong here." I went into the vineyard when the 
wind was blowing. I marked the vines where the most 
damage would take place, and I noticed that the grapes 
that were below two feet off the ground would be destroyed; 
the ones that were above were not touched. So I raised all 
the vines so the grapes would be above the damage line, and 



*See also Philo Biane, Wine Making in Southern California 
and Recollections of Fruit Industries. Inc., a Regional 
Oral History Office interview in this series completed in 
1972. 



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for the first time they had 17,000 tons of grapes, 
was the first time in their history. 



That 



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So you built up a good property for Mr. Lanza to buy. 

Well, evidently. He sold it quickly. The war came, and 
you know what that meant. Probably if I had bought it, 
I might have put the grapes into Fruit Industries and 
lost the opportunity Lanza had, because anyone that bought 
wine from him had to buy shares at $1,500, over twice the 
price Lanza paid for the shares. 

Is that good land down there? 
No. It's just sand mostly. 
But you can grow grapes in it? 

Oh, you can grow grapes on top of a. ..In Italy, we used to 
buy grapes in many districts. In one district called the 
Mattina (means morning) there on top of the mountain is a 
big stone flat where only a blade of grass would be visible 
in the cracks. 

A man from whom we would buy the grapes had the idea 
that if he blasted holes in that flat, he might raise 
grapes. So, unknown to anybody, he did just that. A few 
holes, a load of dirt, and cuttings. Well, the cuttings 
prospered. He had six or seven children and he went to 
the city hall, and he said, "I am a poor man, why don't 
you give me that rock flat up there?" So they laughed at 
him saying, "What are you going to do with it?" The man 
said, "You know, I could bring the rocks down and sell 
them." And so they gave him all that area, maybe 100 acres 
or more. He dug the holes and by the river with burros, 
he and the sons loaded a couple of sacks of sand on each 
burro, and would go up there. In time he had the best 
vineyard in that country, made the best wine, and he got 
the best price and became a millionaire. So you see, if 
you are observing... 

And that's what Guasti did there. He planted a few 
grapevines that nobody knew about. After he was convinced 
of the results he bought a large tract, and organized the 
Italian Vineyard Company. Somewhat on the order of the 
Italian Swiss Colony. 



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An Italian, Alfredo Beccaro, whose family is a big wine 
merchant in Italy, had dinner at Mario's house in 
Hillsborough. He said they have a winery in Venezuela, 
and they planted a hundred acres of grapes. They're 
getting three crops a year, but cut off one crop at the 
very beginning to help the vines. Now they've bought 
4,000 acres more. Next year when I come back from my 
vacation I want to go down there and see the place. 

Has anyone ever got more than one crop a year in 
California? 

Grapes? Zinfandel, you get the first crop and second 
crop. But that's a peculiarity of the vine, but not two 
crops as we would understand it. 

Do you get light yield when you have several crops? 

The yield, according to Mr. Beccaro, is heavy. Some vine 
varieties, if frosted, will produce a second crop almost 
as good as the first. 



FRUIT INDUSTRIES AFFAIRS (CONTINUED) 



Teiser: 



Another person you mentioned, who I think was a member of 
Fruit Industries, was Frank Giannini of Tulare. 



Perelli-Minetti: Yes. 

Teiser: Was he an important wine man? 

Perelli-Minetti: Yes, he was quite important. He had a winery for many 

years. 

Teiser: Was he a big grower? 

Perelli-Minetti: Oh yes, big grower. 

Teiser: And winemaker too? 

Perelli-Minetti: Yes, and very wealthy. 



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123 



I think somebody told me that he tended to go to sleep in 
the middle of Fruit Industries meetings. 

Well, he would. He was around 80. He looked like Napoleon. 
And he used to tell me his grandmother was a servant of 
Napoleon when he was a prisoner in Elba Island. And he 
came from Elba. 

Maybe he had reason to look like Napoleon. 

That's right. He was smart. Tremendous worker. He had 
married one of the Lagomarsino children from Sacramento, 
the seed people. And his daughter married a Lagomarsino; 
they were cousins—Fred Lagomarsino. And now there is a 
Frank Lagomarsino. He has also interest in the grapes 
and wine. Nice young fellow. 

Runs in families, wine and grapes in California... 

It's a pleasant occupation because it's diversified. It 
isn't like making a piece of machinery, every day the same. 
Would drive me crazy. Things change every day. You're 
dealing with nature. It's a challenge. You're fighting, 
sometimes, nature. Nature fighting you, and you have to 
do the best you can to survive. It's a continuous battle 
because you don't know 'til the grapes are gathered and 
delivered to the winery, and after that you don't know 
how you're going to sell the product and try to get your 
money out [laughing]. So until you've got the money back 
into your pocket, you don't know how you came out. But I 
like that. I could have made money in stock, and I don't 
care for that. I had some stock in the Bank of Italy, 
and then A. P. Giannini told me, "Don't sell it." I kept 
it, and then I gave it away for $2 a share. 

That must have been right in the Depression. 
Yes. 

Another matter that we were discussing:* when you separated 
from Mario Tribune in California Grape Products, how did 
you make that separation? 



Perelli-Minetti: I took my share out, whatever was coming to me. He kept 



*See p. 62. 



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the company. But we remained friends, just the same. As 
a matter of fact, when he sold the company and went into 
vermouth, during the war he couldn't get wine from any 
place, he came to me and I made the wine for him. And 
we've been making wine ever since.* 

I realize that it had been a friendly separation. 

Oh yes; because we didn't see eye to eye about Fruit 
Industries, and he was a thousand miles away, and you 
know, he couldn't see the things that I could see here. 

What sort of things? 

Well, in the directorship and in a certain resolution 
that he was opposed to it and I was in favor, because he 
couldn't see it the way I saw it. So there you are. 

And you had only one vote between you for the company? 

That's right. He wanted me to vote one way and I would 
vote the other way. That's where the friction came in. 

This question goes back to the California Vineyardists 
Association, that Conn organization that you discussed- 
Yes, Donald Conn. 

It seems to me that when he came here, which was in about 
1927, people thought that he was representing Hoover. Was 
it your impression that he was speaking for Mr. Hoover? 

Yes. 

Mr. Hoover wasn't elected then, he didn't take office "til 
'28. 

Hoover came in in '28, yes. But arrangements had been made 
with Hoover before he was elected that if he was elected 
he would see that something was done about the grapes. 



*For his son John (Jack) Tribuno. 



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125 



That's a fact.* And we were in Washington for about three 
months, Garrett, Italian Vineyard Company, Di Giorgio, 
and many other people interested in the grape business. 
We had been promised $5,000,000 and we didn't get it. We 
got a million dollars loan but actually $900,000 instead. 
Mrs. Willebrandt received $100,000 out of it. 

What year was that? 

When Alfred Smith ran. What year was that? 

Nineteen twenty-eight was the election year. 

That's right. 1928. 

And that's the year you got the money? 

No, we didn't get the money that year, we got it later. I 
think we got the money in 1931. 

But what year were you in Washington doing the arranging? 

1929. 

Just after Hoover was in? 

Hoover was in already. But naturally Hoover's name was 
never mentioned, and we were strictly told not to—that 
we were doing the work for ourselves, for the benefit of 
the growers. Hoover knew all about what was going on, 
because it had been arranged before. 

Was the money that you were in Washington to get, was that 
to be given by the Federal Farm Board? 

That's right. 

And did you go as an organized group? 
We were to organize Fruit Industries. 
Who were you representing in Washington? 



*See also p. 69. 



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We were there representing California Grape Products 
Company, which was our company; Tribune, you know. 

And each of the individuals there was representing his 
own company? 

In a way. All stated they would join Fruit Industries. 

You were never active in the California Vineyardists 
Association? 

No. 

Somebody told me that the California Vineyardists Associa 
tion was behind the formation of Fruit Industries. 

Yes. Donald Conn was a promoter for his own pocketbook.* 
Although his father was a multi-millionaire- -his father 
was one of the executives of General Motors, I think, and 
during the Depression, he lost some $20,000,000 in stock. 
He used to live here. He had retired already. Fruit 
Industries had to pay him $70,000 to get him out. He would 
spend more money than... A very poor business manager. 
He was a wonderful promoter, nice personality, a magnetic 
personality, and a good speaker, and he might induce a 
man to commit suicide [laughter], but that's all he could 
do. 

But there was a connection between his California Vineyardists 
Association and Fruit Industries? 

That's right. 

What was the connection? 

Well, the connection was that he promoted Fruit Industries 
and became some sort of manager under contract. Five 
years, I believe. 

I see. Did all the members of the California Vineyardists 
Association, all these little growers, then sell their 
grapes to the wineries in Fruit Industries? Was there 
any formal connection? 

That would be impossible for me to say because... 
There was no formal agreement? 



*See also pp. 68-69. For additional discussion of Conn and 
Fruit Industries, see other Regional Oral History Office 
interviews in this series, including those of Leon D. Adams, 
Philo Biane and Horace 0. Lanza. 



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No, no, no. But a great many of those from the different 
co-ops in Lodi, in Fresno, and in many other parts, who 
had joined . . . 

...then joined Fruit Industries? 

That's right. Fruit Industries was a sales organization, 
sales of product the members would produce. Now Garrett, 
our company, Lanza, Italian Vineyard, were commercial 
organizations; the rest were all co-ops. But we joined. 
That's why each one had one vote. First we tried to put 
the vote on the tonnage, so that if you had more tons, 
you had more votes; say one vote for each ton, or for 
ten or a hundred tons. But then that would have given 
the control to only two or three people. And there were 
small co-ops like the two in Florin, and five or six in 
Lodi. 

Cucamonga at Ontario? 

Cucamonga at Ontario, yes.* 

And the Sonoma County Cooperative? 

That's right. 

There was the Mokelumne Winery. 

Yes. 

Where was that? 

That was in Lodi. 

So that Fruit Industries represented finally a great many 
growers? 

Oh, it represented 1,500-1,600 growers. The members of 
the various organizations represented more than 1,500 
growers. 

There were only nine original members, and then others 
came in? 

That's right. We needed members to enlarge the company 
and get control of the market. Which we had at one time, 



*Cucamonga Growers Cooperative 



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but as I said before, things didn't pan out that way. 

The money that finally came to you, was it a government 
loan? 

It was a direct loan, with heavy interest too, to Fruit 
Industries. 

It came to Fruit Industries as an organization then? 

That's right. The loan was made to Fruit Industries on 
facilities, and Fruit Industries had to mortgage the 
facilities that belonged to Fruit Industries. 

It was paid off in oh, after the second war, from the 
revolving fund. It was a struggle to pay it off. During 
the war, the growers were so short-sighted. I fought. 
Fruit Industries would retain one and a half cents, two 
cents a gallon for the revolving fund, and Fruit Industries, 
like any cooperative, was handicapped for operating 
capital. Now we were borrowing money from the Farm 
Board, from the Federal Bank of Co-ops. They dictate to 
you a certain extent, and the loan is always short of what 
you need. So I said, "Now, we're getting money that wasn't 
expected when we were getting 25-27^ a gallon return for 
the wine. We are now getting $1.25 - $1.50 a gallon, 
during the war. Why don't we retain 25^ for the revolving 
fund, make a fund of five or six million dollars, then we 
don't have to pay interest to the bank, and that's all 
profit that we make." But oh no, the small grower wanted 
the money. So we couldn't do it. 

Mabel Walker Willebrandt was general counsel for Fruit 
Industries, was she not? 

That's right. 

I know she was a very well-known woman. 

She was a smart woman. She was a smart politician. I 
personally didn't like her. 

Did she represent Fruit Industries ably? 

[pause] Yes. And no. Depended on which side you were on. 
And that's why I didn't like her. We had quite some extreme 



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arguments. One time I think she got peeved 'til she 
almost insulted me. They had gone into a meeting, Mrs. 
Willebrandt and two or three of the directors, to write 
a resolution regarding some change in Fruit Industries. 
They came in with a sentence. I think it was four lines. 
The rest of the directors were waiting for the resolution 
and everybody approved it. I said, "Wait a minute, Mrs. 
Willebrandt, if I take this comma from here, and I put it 
over here, what becomes of it?" She pulled the paper away 
from me and said, "You s.b...." 

And that changed it completely, stopped what they 
were trying to do to Fruit Industries. And I'm surprised 
that Barlotti didn't see it because Barlotti was on the 
committee to draft the resolution. So you had to be there 
when they were talking to figure out, how do I get out 
here? Which way do I swing? I swung what was more 
interesting to me. I didn't give a damn what happened to 
the other. I wanted to keep Fruit Industries as long as 
I could stay in and make money. 

I was helped quite a bit by Fruit Industries in this: 
that when Muscat Co-operative Winery Association went out, 
Fruit Industries was not in a position to operate without 
Muscat. I said, "I'll make the Muscat," but I said, "I 
need you to tell the bank that you're going to pay for the 
grapes as the wine is sold and so the bank will have a 
certain guarantee beside mine only." And that's the only way 
Fruit Industries helped me. And naturally, making all the 
Muscat for C.W.A. , I had to enlarge the winery and had to 
crush twice as many grapes as I crushed before, and the 
returns were pretty good in those days. I mean, from what 
we paid for the grapes and what we got for the wine. We 
used to get big profit, no question about that. And that 
helped me quite a bit, no question about that too. But 
anybody else had the same chance; nobody would take it. 
But I took it, and it served Fruit Industries and served me 
and everybody. 

Why did the Muscat Co-operative go out of Fruit Industries? 

They went out of Fruit Industries because they thought they 
could do better outside. Like many other cooperatives 
that did the same thing. Many cooperatives went out of 
Fruit Industries, when Taylor was still manager and after 
Taylor left. 



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Mr. Barlotti's name has come up quite frequently. He 
was a very important figure in Fruit Industries early, 
wasn't he? 

Yes, because Italian Vineyard Company, Guasti* was 
president of Fruit Industries at the beginning. Then 
when Guasti died, Barlotti was the president. 

Was he a good president of Fruit Industries? 

Yes. He was very conservative, because all his life he 

had been a conservative man. And one time I said to him, 

"Jim, why did you stay with Guasti all these years as 

secretary and things like that while you could have had a 

business of your own?" He said, "Tony, either you're 

born a businessman or you're born to work under somebody else, 

and I did that, and I did a good job of it." 

But you felt that he was an efficient man? 

Yes. He was very conservative, good administrator, there's 
no question about that. 

Why did people criticize him? 

Because he was too cautious. He wouldn't take a chance. 
Was different from old man Guasti. Guasti would take a 
chance with the moon. 

How long did Barlotti stay with Fruit Industries then? 
"Til Italian Vineyard Company withdrew. 

'Til Lanza bought it. I see. Did he go on working for 
I.V.C. then? 

No, no, no, no. He withdrew completely. 

Did he go on in the industry after that? 

No, he just retired. He had plenty of money. 

Then who became president of Fruit Industries after that? 



*Secondo Guasti, Jr. 



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I think it was Jack Bare. Then it was rotated you know. 

Was it an important position, or was it just a nominal 
one? 

It was nominal. Walter Taylor was the whole cheese. 
Put it like that. Walter Taylor and Hugh Adams, who was 
in the sales, they managed the company to suit themselves, 

Earlier, when Taylor first came in, were you satisfied 
with the way he was handling it? 

At the beginning, yes, but then I didn't like it. Began 

to smell things. I'm very observing in my mode of life. 

Sometimes I don't say anything, but observe and just 
follow my hunch. 

When did Mr. Morrow come into Fruit Industries? 
At the very beginning. 

Had the old California Wine Association disposed of its 
old property, Winehaven, by then? 

Oh, yes. That was already gone. 

Were you at Winehaven ever earlier? 

Yes. 

What was it like? 

It was a beautiful winery. I bought some pumps and got 
some cooperage there. Standard Oil bought it. 

It was one of the biggest wineries in California, was it? 

It was the biggest. No question about that. 

And was Mr. Morrow in direct charge of Winehaven? 

Absolutely. They produced wine there and brought wine in 
from other producers that they'd had before. In San 
Francisco they had three big wineries, they concentrated 
them into one over in Richmond. Then they built a plant 
in New York on the waterfront, and shipped the wine 
through the Panama Canal by boat. Had cisterns of 50,000 



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gallons in each one, and when it arrived in New York it 
was pumped into the winery there. You see, before 
Prohibition the barrels were very cheap, $2-$3 apiece. 
Now a barrel's $30. The freight then was a very few 
cents. Now it's 15-16^ a gallon; couldn't compete with 
the water transportation. And then you can't sell in 
barrels any more, the law won't permit you. So things 
have changed by conditioning caused by law. 



WINES AND STABILIZATION PLANS 



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I've been told that after Repeal so much of the cooperage 
in which California wines were sent east was poor that 
the wines arrived in bad shape, although they were good 
when they left here. 

But there was no good wine anyway, because they had no 
good grapes to get it from. Because all the good grapes 
had been pulled out. 

You had some wine that you had made earlier, didn't you? 

Yes, we had, but we put it in Fruit Industries. Had over 
a million gallons. But that went to Fruit Industries. 
So California Wine Association had 15 and 20 year old 
wine, went all into that. ..[ slaps his hands] you figure 
that out. 

But California wine got a very poor reputation immediately 
after Repeal? 



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consequence. 

Do you think that the Wine Institute did a good deal to 
counter that? 

No, the Wine Institute didn't do much. The Wine Institute 
was more interested in laws, in passing laws that would 
help the industry rather than in promotion. The promotion came 
later. Then the Wine Advisory Board was formed, which 
received two cents a gallon from all sales to spend on 
advertising, which Wine Institute couldn't afford for lack 
of money. 



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Had Harry Caddow been in the wine industry before? 

No. Caddow was a tool of Donald Conn. Donald Conn was 
with the railroads before, or some transportation agency 
in Chicago, and Caddow was with him, was one of his 
employees. Caddow was smart, very smart; then he started 
to drink. Started to drink; he couldn't take it any more. 
I think he died a drunk. 

He was with the Wine Institute in the beginning, wasn't he? 
That's right. Yes, he was the first manager. 
Did he do a good job there? 

He did a very good job while he was there, but you know... 
still he had to agree with Tom, Dick, and Harry, and 
sometime you don't know which way to go. He had to take 
a middle of the road that didn't satisfy anybody. 

Yes, I should think it would be a very hard job to 
represent all the different segments of the California 
industry. 

It is, because the interests are so varied, and so 
different, that you can do something to please Gallo that 
wouldn't please us. Now, for instance, the law change 
in Washington state. For myself, I agree that Gallo is 
right, but in the meantime it hurts us because we had a 
good business with the monopoly state, which we won't 
have now. But from the long range point, I agree that 
Gallo was right, but if he had waited a couple of years, 
it would have been much better. We wouldn't have been 
off that bad. But I still recognize that he was right. 

Is it possible for an organization like the Wine Institute 
to represent the whole industry equally? 

It is possible if the management of the Wine Institute is 
intelligent enough to grasp the thing that does the most 
good for the most people, and are able to stand against 
the other interests and say, "Well, you want this because 
it helps you, but how about the other fellows?" And that's 
a tough job because not everybody will do that. You'll 
have to have a man that can agree with five people at the 
same time, and that's the kind of man you have to have there. 



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Should it be by the most people or most acreage, or by 
most tonnage, or by most gallonage? 

No, I should think not. It should go by the interest of 
the industry at large. In my judgment it would be the 
best interest that would foment the use of wine. That 
should be the paramount basis of the thing of the Wine 
Institute. 

And you feel that hasn't always guided them? 

Not in the past. That's why we withdrew. 

You think they were making it hard for the winemakers to...? 

No, the winemaker has nothing to do with it. I mean, they 
couldn't make it any harder for the winemaker. They make 
it harder for the individual to compete with the bigger 
individual; that's where the shoe hurts. But taken all in 
all, since the Wine Advisory Board was established, it has 
increased the consumption of wine--not entirely due to the 
advertisement and the operation of the Wine Institute or 
Wine Advisory Board, but also the people themselves that 
go to Europe and they come back and they start to drink 
wine here and they say, "Well, it was good in Europe, why 
shouldn't it be good here?" They are young people. The 
Wine Institute gets all the credit, but it's not entitled 
to 100 per cent of that credit. In a large portion, 
possibly, yes. 

The Wine Institute has done a good job on legislation. 
When Ohio wanted to pass a law and raise the taxation of 
California wine, Wine Institute said, "We'll do something." 
It engaged the manufacturers of that state to go before 
the legislature there and say, "No, we don't want this law 
because if you pass it our products will be taxed by 
California" and forced the legislature to go slow. So the 
Wine Institute, taken all for all, it did a good job there. 

Do you expect ever to rejoin it? 

I don't know. 

Maybe when they get a new manager?* 



*At the time of the interview, no new manager had yet been 
named to succeed Don McColly. 



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Well, I wonder who's going to be the new manager. I want 
to see Baccigaluppi.* 

Oh yes, you'd like to see him be it? 

Yes. 

He's a fair-minded man, isn't he? 

He's a fair-minded man. He's a little stubborn, but 
that's all right. And he knows the wine business quite 
well from the sales standpoint. He's a good salesman, 
he's a good talker, good personality. And I hope that 
he gets it. 

Would he take it, I wonder? 

Well, now, that's the question, whether he'd take it or 
not. But since Lanza sold all the vineyard the Brees** 
were moving out of Delano, it could interest Harry. Of 
course there is one thing, Baccigaluppi won't take the 
nonsense that this fellow's been taking from Gallo and 
some other people, especially from Gallo. But like one 
fellow said to me, "For $60,000 a month, he could call me 
any damn thing he wanted." So there is a philosophy. 
Depends how passive you are. 

[Laughing] Yes, I guess so. Going back again—in 1961 
there was what they called a set-aside program. Were 
you involved in that? 

Everybody was. Every winery was involved in that. 
I mean were you for it? or against it? 

It was based on setting aside part of the wine by every 
winery. I don't remember just the details. That was 
Rosenstiel's idea. 

I see. Lucius Powers was apparently very much for it. 



*Harry Baccigaluppi 

**The Bree family, related by marriage to H.O. Lanza. 



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Well, the trouble with Powers, he is a lawyer. His 
source of business comes from the law principally. He 
has some interest in a cooperative; they get some cock 
eyed ideas, and... His father [Lucius Powers, Sr.] was 
different though. It was too bad he was killed. I 
remember him very well. 

What sort of man was he? 
Very dynamic fellow. 
Was he a good wine man? 

He was a good vineyardist. He didn't have any winery. 
He was a very powerful man, had influential voice in the 
politics of Fresno County.* 

I believe Lucius Powers, Jr., was for the 1961 set-aside 
program. 

Yes. Well, because that's... see it depends on which side 
you were on. The set-aside was to take away some of the 
surplus and age it. All right, you don't destroy that, 
you take it in; but some time it has to come back. So 
what's the good of it? 

Was there some thought of developing foreign markets for 
it? 

You couldn't put the dollar against the cheap money in 
the foreign countries. How could you do that? First of 
all, we haven't got good wines to send over there. The 
only wine that we could send over there would be wine 
from Napa-Sonoma Counties. The rest of the wine that we 
produce now, dry wine, is like the Algerian wine, and some 
parts of Europe they won't take it. Therefore, if we took 
the Napa wine and other wine that could compete with 
Europe in wine, we would destroy our own market. That's 
the point. 

Yes. Here's what Amerine and Singleton** say about the '61 
set-aside: "This program called for setting aside a certain 
percentage of the wines or brandy or concentrate from the 
San Joaquin Valley, the main surplus area..., and later 



*See also Lucius Powers, The Fresno Area and the California 
Wine Industry, a Regional Oral History Office interview 
completed in 1974. 

**Wine; An Introduction for Americans, p. 286. 



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disposing of these products into other channels of trade"-- 
whatever they were--"alcohol for industrial purposes," and 
so forth. 

Yes, but it wasn't done. 

It wasn't? 

No. 

They couldn't get rid of it? 

Well, the loss would have been so much for some, and others 
could stand it. So the wine came back into the market 
again. 

There have been so many attempts in the industry to 
stabilize prices. 

That under the N.R.A.,* that would have done it. 
It would have? 

Yes, I think so. But it would only benefit the big 
fellow. Had I been independent then it would have hurt 
me, but I was part of Fruit Industries. I was protected. 
But the other little fellow, it just would be murder. 



RECENT TRENDS 



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The national companies have been coming increasingly into 
the field here; do you think they're going to stay in the 
wine business? 

I imagine so. I believe, because they can see the hand 
written wall that the wine business is on the increase, 
has a tremendous future, while the whiskey's only static. 
And there could be also this: say that Prohibition is 
repeated—not Prohibition in the sense that they had it 



*National Recovery Act of 1933. 



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before, that they control the sale of hard liquor, brandy, 
whiskey, and things like that—which I hope they do because 
they're dangerous to the health of the people. Now we make 
brandy because people want it, we make what they want. 
But if I could, like I begged Roosevelt, just cut out any 
thing except the table wine, and let the other products 
be sold only through monopoly states. No saloons. Then 
you wouldn't see what you see today, women at the bar, 
men at the bar; they have no place to go, the poor devils; 
I feel so sorry. How can they go on, night after night, 
sit down at the bar and take four or five drinks, then 
they haven't got a taste for a good steak or a good dinner. 
It would have made a different state of conditions and 
results. 

The earlier experience of the national companies with 
Masson and others was...? 

The first that came in the wine business after Schenley 
and bought Italian Swiss Colony-- What was that name? 
National Distillers. Then they sold out. And then came 
back in again. 

It was said that their earlier experiences indicated that 
they just didn't understand the wine business and that's 
why they didn't stay in it. 

That's right. 

Well, why would they understand it now when they didn't 
before? 

Because they feel that, while there is no immediate money 
in it, they're building for the future. And now they can 
afford to lose money in the wine business, and they take 
tax money for that purpose, you see. 

Ah, yes. So they won't put pressure on the wineries? 

No. It's just like many companies are going to farming. 
They're making so much money that they are diverting part 
of it to developing fanning, and if they lose money in it 
they don't give a darn because they take it off the tax. 
Uncle Sam is the one that loses. But now the whiskey 
people are doing the same thing. They're making profit 
from the whiskey, and banking on the future of the wine 



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industry. You have read the Forbes report and many others, 
that the future of the wine industry is unlimited, the 
amount of table wine that can be consumed in the United 
States when you have got so many million of people. Now 
you've got all kinds of people, whether Methodist or 
Adventist, the young people, they all drink. It isn't 
like 50 years ago any more. So there is a chance. And 
then it's a healthy drink, and there is a possibility to 
curb the abuse of whiskey and those other products that 
hurt. Now the sale of whiskey is about 250 million gallons 
against 150 million gallons of wine; that's a big difference. 
And most of that wine is still sweet wine which is not 
much different from whiskey; nothing but a tax affair, 
because two bottles of sweet wine are equal to one bottle 
of whiskey in alcoholic content. You drink more liquid 
in sweet wine, but you pay 60^ tax on a gallon against 
$11 for whiskey. 

The whiskey people tried their best to have the wine 
be taxed on alcoholic basis; I mean, the fortified wine 
to pay on the basis of 20 per cent alcohol. If whiskey, 
40 per cent (which is 80 proof) pays $11, then wine at 
20 per cent should pay $5. That would destroy the sweet 
wine completely, but on the other hand, it would increase 
the sale of the dry wine. If you could make a survey of 
all the grapes that left the state in Prohibition to be 
made into wine (bootlegging), you could easily figure 
700,000,000 - 800,000,000 gallons of dry wine were drunk 
in the East only. Which disappeared completely with the 
advent of Repeal. 

Then people went to sweet wines, didn't they? 

Naturally, because the women and the men, the women mostly, 
drank the cocktail. They were weaned on sweet stuff, and 
they couldn't take the dry wine. But now, who drinks the 
sweet wine? Just the niggers and the people who want to 
get drunk (now let's be frank), and can't afford a bottle 
of whiskey. 

Who drinks these flavored wines? 

The Negroes. And that shouldn't occur. The state shouldn't 
permit that. Under the state law, you cannot use sugar in 
the winery expressly used for wine produced from grapes. 
Flavored wines should be produced exclusively in a separate 
winery. We are not doing it. California Wine Association 



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is not doing it. 

Some winemakers are using sugar? 

To make those. . . 

Those flavored drinks? 

Sure. 

I know they say some women like them who wouldn't other 
wise drink wines. 

But some women are indulging too much. Some women are 
just completely gone. It's just an alcoholic soft drink. 
That's what it is. 

Maybe it's the Coca-Cola drinkers... 

Probably so. In Prohibition days they used to spike the 
Coca-Cola. 

What do you think the picture is going to be in the future? 
Do you think we're going to have more nationally owned 
companies coming in? 

I think so. That's the safety of the state. In the big 
valley too many small companies will wreck each other. 
On the other hand you'll have a number of premium wine 
producers, small companies or individuals that will confine 
themselves to the production of their vineyards, no more. 
And those will be on the increase and will go ahead for 
many, many years to come because they are not interested 
in getting beyond their production. Now those people will 
survive. 

This is like, for instance, Beaulieu?* The way it 
operates. 

That's right. Now [Louis M.] Martini is on the wrong foot 
now because he wants to stay with the demand, and it's 



*Note that this interview occurred while Beaulieu Vineyard 
was still family-owned. 



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deteriorating his quality to a point where Martini wine 
is not the wine it used to be at the beginning when he 
confined himself to 100 per cent Napa and Sonoma grapes. 
And so that's the bad feature of it. But when small 
individuals come in with a good quality and confine them 
selves, it just will be the same thing like the chateaux 
in France or the small places in Italy, where you produce 
100,000 gallons, 20,000 gallons, 10,000 gallons; when 
that's gone, no more. 

How small a winery can you operate and have it worth the 
investment? 

Well, I think the man that could give you the answer to 
that is Ficklin, in Madera, because he's doing that very 
thing I'm speaking of. 

Ah, yes. Making port. 

Yes. Makes wine from the grapes that we won't use. 

Really? 

Yes. Because those came from Portugal and came from our 
vineyard . 

Did he get his stock from you? 

Not directly from us. He got it from other people who had 
got it from us. Because when Dr. [H.P.] Olmo came back 
from Portugal, he had with him a complete set of all the 
vines in Portugal. I think there were 43 or 45 different 
varieties that are mostly used in Portugal. He didn't have 
any place to propogate them and he called me on the phone 
and said, "Tony, I've got grape cuttings; can you plant 
them for me or graft them for me?" I said, "Yes, I'll do 
it." So he sent them down to me, and in front of my house 
there are 43 rows, 45 rows, I don't remember exactly, start 
from the west, go to the east. Each half row is one 
variety. At the beginning, we got a few of the varieties 
that we thought were wonderful and we planted 20-30 acres 
and then we pulled them out.* Schenley got them from us. 



*See also p. 40. 



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And I imagine Mr. Ficklin got them from Schenley. Of 
course a vine will produce a wine that will be different 
from that produced in another place a mile or so away. 
Those Portuguese grapes don't produce much of a crop; we 
needed production because when you're in business like we 
are, production comes first, because then we can meet 
competition. You may have to lower the price one cent 
or two cents a gallon, and you still can be in business 
because of cheaper production. Ficklin, on the other hand, 
has a small vineyard, 20 acres or 30 acres, I don't know 
how much he has. Well, he will survive because he priced 
on his wine so high that if he has only 20 acres and 
produces only 100 or 150 tons, it will return $300 or $400 
a ton for his grapes. And he can't afford to grow beyond 
that. The only way he could grow is a very slow process, 
that of keeping with the demand, and maintaining the same 
quality. But that process is so slow, see. But like 
Gallo, ourselves, and many others, we have to go to the 
general public by pushing the sales and making it known 
that we have supply and quality--not by radio or t.v. for 
lack of money, but mostly by personal contact. Each 
company does it the best they can. And then you have to 
face competition, and if you don't watch yourself, you 
just can go through the window so damn fast it'll make 
your head swim' 

Two wineries, I guess, have experienced that, haven't they? 
Roma and Cresta Blanca? 

Completely. They are just practically out. Cresta Blanca 
I think is for sale. Roma is for sale. Schenley is giving 
up the wine business. I understand that Setrakian was 
making a deal to produce a brandy for them for 30 years. 
Now I understand that Setrakian has a large inventory of 
brandy and he's selling his grapes. As a matter of fact, 
he wants us to buy 5,000 tons of his grapes he is not 
going to ship this year. 



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WINERY-GROWER RELATIONSHIPS 



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Last week we called our buyers and told them we were going 
to buy grapes, a limited tonnage. We were offered 15,000 
tons of Thompson by the growers of the Delano district 
that ship grapes. They're going to cut their shipping and 
sell the grapes to wine. 

This year? 
Yes. 

I think Gallo does some contracting for grapes with the 
growers. 

He always does that. We contract with the grower when the 
market opens up. When Gallo starts buying, then we start 
buying too. 

But I mean, do you contract with him for so much acreage... 



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Oh, you mean for the future? 
Yes. 

Oh no, no. We don't do that. No, it is frought with 
danger. Our vineyards produce, at the outside, 4,000 tons 
of Thompson grapes. The rest are all black grapes. We 
produce enough black grapes for our own purposes. There 
fore it would be stupid for us to go and buy black grapes 
at $50 a ton when we can buy Thompson for $30. There is 
that big difference. Now Thompsons this year go maybe $50 
a ton, which isn't high price when you consider everything. 
Then black grapes may be $70 a ton. Why pay $20 premium for 
something we don't need? 

Well, when the winemaker contracts in advance, then he can 
dictate what shall be grown, can't he, and how it should 
be grown? 

That's right. Gallo contract is $75 a ton even if the 
market is lower. If the market is higher than he'll meet 
the market price, whichever that is for that particular 
variety. But the grower has to plant specific varieties 
and he has to sign a contract for 15 years and do certain 
amount of work... 



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Specified work? 

Specified work. That grower can't prune the grapes to 
overcrop them so as to destroy the quality of those 
grapes. He has to abide strictly to certain cultural 
practices. Well, if you come out and guarantee a man $75 
a ton, which is a big price, I think you have the right 
to impose the condition. And I think Gallo has the right 
to do that. We can't afford such contracts. Gallo has 
the market, which we haven't got, and therefore we must 
be very cautious. I mean, they and Heublein control the 
market. 

Paul Masson (Paul Masson is Seagram) and Almaden 
have money and have been able to stay in the wine business, 
and made a success of it from the standpoint of sales. 
But now what they have to do is improve the quality of 
their wines. 

Do those companies contract in advance, or buy on the open 
market? Or how do they get their grapes? 

Almaden practically produces their own grapes. And Paul 
Masson buys wine in Sonoma and Napa counties, for blending. 

After it's made? 
After it's made. 
They don't make all their own? 

No, they don't produce all their wines. They planted a 
big vineyard down at Soledad; they also built a big 
winery there, too. So they produce wine there. Wineries 
make the wine for them. Of course their plant in Saratoga 
is not equipped to make wine. It's a blending and storage 
plant only. 

Are there any other winemakers in the state who contract 
for acreage in advance as Gallo does? 

Nobody has I know of. Schenley tried to do that very early. 
They wanted to do it for $50 a ton. Schenley made a 
tremendous mistake. I do not want to take any credit for 
it, but I pointed out to them that the contract they made 
with the other wineries was wrong. They tried to corner 



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the wine market completely and would have succeeded, had 
they not fixed the gallonage that each ton of grapes would 
produce. I said, "Mr. Rosenstiel,* if I crush for you 
20,000 tons of grapes, and I make so many gallons of wine, 
and I give to you maybe 95 per cent because that's the 
amount I have to give you, five per cent of that is mine. 
I can undermine you because I can sell that wine against 
yours. " 

Then the worst feature of that was that he set no 
limit to the price. So he had all these wineries 
were making wine for Schenley on a fixed $15 a ton 
processing, besides retaining the surplus beyond a 
certain gallonage. So the wineries started to raise the 
price to $60 a ton in order to get the grapes, until it 
reached $105 a ton. Schenley was paying the bill. 

They had people bidding against each other? 

Against each other, sure, because at $15 a ton to process 
the grapes, there was $6-$7 profit in each ton, plus two- 
three gallons or five gallons of surplus wine. Well now 
that meant $10 profit. The winery was interested in 
tonnage. What's the difference? It did not come out of 
their pocket. Schenley was paying. So the wineries would 
bid against each other for grapes, and the price went up 
to $105-$110. Some of those grapes sold five or six times 
back and forth. That's the way the grower acts. He is 
inclined to divert some of his crop, and nothing can be 
done about it. 

Well, that's what 1 meant when I said that the national 
companies didn't understand the wine business. 

Well, Schenley understood the business partly because he 
wanted to control it, and he would have succeeded if he 
had known the details. 






*Lewis S. Rosenstiel 



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Would it be possible for one company to control it really? 

For a few years, yes. But then the other companies would 
gradually expand, inducing the growers to plant additional 
grapes, which they could afford to pay 50^ or a dollar more 
a ton (could operate cheaper) . The co-op would come into 
being, but due to grower-member attitude they soon would 
find themselves in serious trouble. The grower sells its 
grapes to a commercial organization and ruins its own 
company. In Italy, in France, where grape production is 
static, co-ops function to better advantage. But in 
California, first of all, commercial companies can get 
grapes, raise the price. The grower will pay a $5 fine 
to the co-op and sell to the commercial. He's the worst 
enemy of his own co-op. Then when the price goes up, the 
grower starts planting more grapes. The commercial company 
lowers the price, and the cooperative gets glutted with 
grapes when the commercial won't buy. That's why grape 
cooperatives can't very well function in California. 

Do you think they're going to disappear here? 

Well, the average cooperative is a bulk sale operation, 
and bulk sales, you know, are getting lower and lower. 
If the state enacts a law that no wine could go out of 
the state except in bottles, all bulk sales are out, and 
those producers must look to inter-winery only for 
disposal of their inventories. 

Could they survive? 

Not unless they joined some big company or produced wine 
for Gallo or some other company, just for inter-winery 
sale. If they make good wine and are not hoggish, they 
could survive. Limited ly, with just a small profit to 
stay alive, I think so. 

But in general you think it's going to be between the 
small winery and the corporation, and not much between? 

Not too much because to establish a label in the market 
is extremely expensive. What sells is the label, not 
the wine. If it was in the olden days when people knew 



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what wine was , what was good and what was bad , then it 
would be easier to establish a label. But today the 
people buy the label, buy Almaden, buy Paul Masson because 
they are the most advertised. And Gallo too advertises 
extensively. Nobody else can afford it, only in limited 
amount. Heublein is starting just now. 

Heublein is an asset to the wine industry. So is 
Gallo because they are in it for profit. The large 
companies are in more for sale. In some instances they gave 
the wine away. All they wanted was to sell that mass of 
wine. Under the contract Heublein has with the grower, 
it has to pay $35 minimum for the grapes. Now Gallo, 
coming out with $48, Heublein is forced to pay $48 or be 
in trouble with the grower. If we get rains and can't 
make raisins then more trouble for Heublein, as some of 
those growers have Thompsons. Gallo, to come out with $48, 
stabilizes the grape market, making it easier to buy grapes. 
Gallo had an established market before Heublein came in, 
and sells more. 

But doesn't Heublein have a firm association with this 
group of growers? 

Yes, but... 

Can they sell to others if they want? 

No. No, they cannot. Their grapes must go to Heublein. 

Even with a penalty? 

I don't know that. I don't think so. I think that's been 
removed from the new contract. Because if that was in the 
contract, Heublein would be stupid. Then it would have no 
contract with the growers so to speak. The grower's 
obligated to put everything into Heublein. Now, the 
Italian Swiss Colony, before Heublein came in, their major 
sale was bulk sale, which now in Heublein is out. Heublein 's 
going to sell everything in bottles and raise the price, 
to make profit. So that helps us and helps anybody that 
has a small part in the market. With the label, our 
business is going up. Our profits are slightly increased, 
not much, we never made much profit. We have made a small 
profit on the end of the year because of income from 
real estate. Some years we only made $90 on an operation 
of a sale of $6,000,000 - $7,000,000, and that $90 actually 



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represented a loss of $100,000, because we got that money 
from real estate rents in excess of $100,000, and that's 
what kept us going. For three years we lost money, 
although we showed a profit of $90.* 

That's just the last four, five years. In the '60s. 
It just happened that we had the foresight to buy the 
real estate and that the bank helped us. As I said before, 
I think, we owe that to Security First National Bank that 
had the confidence in us, and gave us the money to buy the 
land, gave me the money to buy a commercial building. Last 
week we got a letter from the insurance company that there 
was $45 final payment, and when we sent the check in, the 
insurance company reconveyed the deed to us. We burned 
the mortgage. That's the first mortgage I've had in my 
life. Because with Security we have no mortgage. It's 
just open. 

That's a wonderful relationship. 

We've been since 1931 with Security Bank. Never have had 
a hitch. When we lost money they put in more money to 
complete the cycle. When Sartori was president of the 
bank, he used to tell me all the time, "V/e put more faith 
in the honesty and ability of the man than on his 
collateral. Because if he's a crook, we have to watch 
him because he could make his collateral disappear and 
then... And we have been caught some times like that. We 
don't want to have anybody we have to watch with a shotgun. 
That's why we help the good ones." 



EUROPEAN AND CALIFORNIA WINES 



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I should think the wine business would be one that it'd 
be hard to be crooked in because there's so much 
regulation. 

Not [laughing] when you read what happened in Italy. 

Oh, yes. I think I drank some of that wine in Italy, too. 



*See pp. 85-86. 



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I think I drank that some time myself. 

Tasted like nothing. Do you think that the ordinary 
wines in Italy are as good as our ordinary wines? Or 
in France? 

The ordinary wine in Paris, for instance, it's not good 
wine. It's all Algerian wine. And what they send over 
here is Algerian wine blended with some French, because 
the wine that's produced in France today is not enough 
to supply the French internal consumption. And those 
that are great wine, they don't export. Oh, some. Now, 
you go... I've been to several of these French tastings. 
Some are good but not in... 

You mean, even the ones that they prize? 

Yes. Now, we went once to a wine tasting in Los Angeles 
given at the Wilshire Hotel, and they had one wine for 
$2.50 a bottle that was the best wine. It was an unknown 
brand; it was beautiful wine, and some of the wines that 
cost $14-$15 a bottle I wouldn't give 10^ for it. So 
there you are. 

Do you think that our under-a-dollar-a-bottle wines are 
as good as the inexpensive wines in Europe? 

Not as good. No. Big difference. But let me tell you 
this. When we were at this tasting, there was a couple 
following us all the time. With me was a young man who 
has been a tasting judge in Sacramento for some time. 
The couple asked us, "We want to give a party. What would 
you suggest?" We said, "Wrap the bottles up so you can't 
see the label, put a number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, on them, and 
then offer prizes." Well, I think there were eight or 
nine women. Except one, they all chose one variety, and 
that was Carlo Rossi. That's the cheapest. [Laughter] 
It's a very light wine, kind of sweetish. But that 
pleased them. 

When people ask me what wine they should drink, I 
always suggest this: "Take a few brands, take one brand 
today, and another brand tomorrow, and another brand the 
next day, another brand the following day, and then the 
one you like the best, that's the one you should stick to. 
Because my palate is different than your palate. The food 
you eat is different from what I eat. Certain wines will 



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go with certain foods, certain wines won't go with the 
same food." 

And that's the only way you can tell because it's 
just like a dress and a pair of shoes, I like this way, 
you like the other way. I like a de'collete'; I like them 
closed up. So it's the same thing in anything in life. 

But you think that the ordinary wines of Europe today 
are better than the ordinary wines in California? 

I think so. We lack the varieties, better grapes. Not 
only that—you see, there a big trouble here. Take for 
instance Zinfandel. The growers plant it all over the 
state without any consideration, and that is the trouble. 
But on the other hand it would take a thousand years to 
select the proper variety for the proper location, which 
in Europe has been done over a thousand years because of 
economic reasons. They were compelled to do it. Even 
in the same district, you have different varieties. Now 
that process will come in time. We're in that process 
now. You see, I buy grapes in Lodi, I buy grapes in 
Fresno, I buy grapes in other places, and it all goes in 
the same vat. But when the palate of the public becomes 
sharpened, then it will compel you to improve your quality 
or get out of business—which means, we will buy the grapes 
that give better wine. Now in our case, we are doing that 
very thing now. We've been doing that for years. I showed 
you that book where we're doing... 

Yes, experimenting. 

Experimenting. And we've planted. We've pulled 500 acres 
between this last season and the year before, so we can 
plant this new variety in. We have already 400 acres of 
one variety which is patented. 

What variety is that? Your own? 

Our own, yes. So now we've six, seven varieties that we've 
produced that are under experiment. But we have to wait 
five years, six years to make sure that they won't throw 
back. So this year we grafted two rows, next year we'll 
graft 20 acres, and then from there, go on and get the 
cuttings for the field. 

And this is what Europe has done over many years? 



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They had to do it, because a grower could sell his grapes 
or wine, while the grower next to him who had the same 
variety of wine or grapes from land of different character 
could not sell his unless at a very much lower price, or 
not at all, or only if there were a shortage. So then 
you start to figure out what you could do, and you start 
to change the variety. Now you take any district in Italy, 
even small ones are planted to different varieties. That's 
compelled by conditions. It all comes to dollars and cents. 



WINE GRAPE GROWING AREAS IN CALIFORNIA 



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Here in California there used to be a fair number of 
wineries in the Mother Lode, and then I believe in the 
'30's or early '40 's there was interest again in planting 
vineyards up there. Have you ever looked at the grapes 
up in there? The old plantings? 

They made good wines. Beautiful wines. But when the price 
crashed, they couldn't stand it. Production was small, 
labor became high. Now there is one winery started over 
there in El Dorado County. There's another one started in 
Jackson. Those wineries, they will survive as will the 
ones like Ficklin that will limit themselves to their 
production and will get a high price for their wines if 
they plant good varieties best adapted to their soil and 
general conditions. 

You think that Mother Lode area can produce good wines? 

Oh, beautiful wines. 

Just as good as the Napa Valley? 

Absolutely. And much better than Napa Valley, too. Much 
better than Napa. Mendocino produces better wine than 
Napa. And Lake County produces one of the best wines in 
the state. I had wines made from grapes that were produced 
in Lake County, I remember. We used to buy the grapes 
from Mr. Lyons.* Facing Clear Lake, one end of Clear Lake. 
Was beautiful wine. 



*Probably George A. Lyons, Jr. 



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When was that? 

Oh, before Prohibition. 1 remember that we had a tank 
of that wine, and Mr. [W.C.] Durant, that used to build 
the Durant car, you remember? He was living next to 
Tribune there in Bayside, New York, and when he tasted 
the wine, he said, "Oh, my God, can I get some of this?" 
So we had 2,000 gallons of that, and we sent 20 barrels to 
Tribune, and 20 barrels to Mr. Durant. So Lake County 
has tremendous possibilities and land that can be put 
into grapes. In the old days the trouble was transporta 
tion. There is no railroad in Lake County. But now you 
have highways and you have trucks, so transportation is 
no problem. But beautiful grapes can be produced there. 
You are subject to more frost there, but there are pears, 
there are peaches, there are cherries, etcetera. Why not 
grapes? 

There's some plateaus there that are the most 
beautiful land that you've ever seen. Of course you have 
to clear it. That costs money, maybe $150 an acre to 
begin with, and then you have to probably establish the 
sprinkler system to protect you from frost. But that's 
secondary because I was just talking to some people today 
about that. You don't get frost every year, but if you 
go four or five years without frost and then you get a 
frost, the average wine grape will produce some second 
crop. The grower will still average a profit. Now if you 
lose Thompson by frost, that's it. But with wine grapes, 
you will get enough to likely cover the costs. 

I see. Does frost have any detrimental effect on the vine 
over the long haul? 



Well, it has a chance to sour sap the vine, yes. 
it stops the circulation of the sap. 



Because 



I suppose there is limitless acreage possible for wine... 

California is tremendous. All the coast here between here 
and the ocean all the way down to Santa Maria. All that 
coast country can just produce beautiful wine. We used to 
buy grapes from [Ignace] Paderewski, near Paso Robles. 
There are two or three wineries there now. I think one 
is York at Templeton, and they make beautiful wine. Oh, 
beautiful wine. But now you can't buy the grapes there. 



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I think they've formed a co-op over there now, and more 
planting is going on. All that land between Morro Bay 
and north of Cayucos and all that country there. There 
is no limit in California for grape planting. All the 
coast country makes beautiful wines. Now, think of this, 
if we get change of weather like we just have had this 
year, it's going to make a big difference in the quality 
of grapes in the San Joaquin Valley. 

When weather conditions make good grapes in the San Joaquin 
Valley, are they likely to make for good grapes in other 
areas too? 

Well, if the weather is good in San Joaquin Valley, it's 
good some place else too. Now we used to buy quite a 
lot of wine from Gualala. 

Up in Mendocino. Really? 

Oh, yes. Most beautiful wine. There were some beautiful 
vineyards up there overlooking the Pacific. And there is 
a plateau between Ukiah and the coast that if planted 
would produce the best wine in the country. If I were a 
young man, I'd go to that coast. 

In 1903, we almost bought 1,000 acres in Lake County 
between two friends of mine, myself, and my brother. I 
was going to go over there to develop the land, as we were 
to make a deal with a Mr. Stokes, who was enthusiastically 
interested in wine. I think the land cost was $5 to $10 
an acre, on a 20-year payment; each one of the other 
partners would put up half of their salaries to sustain me 
and to sustain the work there to clear the brush off and 
start planting grapes. But it didn't pan out because 
nobody would sign up properly and put a firm guarantee, 
and I said to myself, "Why should I sacrifice myself over 
there and then all of a sudden find myself alone?" But 
there is a tremendous future in Lake County. The wine 
that you can make from those grapes is simply beautiful. 

You said that your end of the San Joaquin had capabilities 
for additional acreage. 

In the foothills. Tremendous amount. There is no end to 
the foothills. 

Of course, the more you get into mechanical harvesting, the 



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more the foothill land is thrown into a special category, 
isn't it? 

That's true, because the foothills, because of very 
limited water, with overhead sprinklers, growing of grapes 
would be close to dry farming. And mechanical harvesting, 
barring heavy rains, can be successfully done at any time. 
In the flat land, a light rain would prevent mechanical 
harvesting for a longer time. Now on the coast they don't 
need much water because of the heavy fog. 

Can you use mechanical harvesters on foothill land though? 
Will they maneuver on hills? 

Oh, sure. Because the foothills are not steep. They 
are gently rolling land. Some of those rolling hills 
were in grapes before. Then, Prohibition came, they just 
disappeared. 

Do you see mechanical harvesting as changing the industry? 

No, I don't see that. And frankly, 1 doubt whether it will 
be successful from the economical standpoint. Because, 
while it saves you money in picking—say $2 or $3 or $4 
a ton—on the other hand, it might lose you more grapes to 
offset that difference. 

You mean that go unpicked? 

Partly that. Partly it shakes the berry to the ground 
from vines ahead of the machine, and further and most 
important there is a loss of 10 to 15 per cent of juice, 
and juice is what makes the wine. This is very serious 
and must be considered very carefully. 

The new varieties that you're growing, are they amenable 
to mechanical harvesting? 

Some are and some aren't. But some varieties are worth 
hand picking. Those grapes are unmatched for wine quality 
in the Valley, and the new varieties that will permit 
mechanical harvesting will be the same all over the 
Valley, with very different quality results. 






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The trend in the industry toward wines with the name of 
the grape varieties—do you see that as continuing? 

I think so. Because Almaden and Paul Masson, who are the 
biggest advertisers, and now Gallo comes out, too, 
featuring grape names. So we have decided to plant a few 
acres ourselves, even if we don't get anything out of it, 
just to justify the label and use our grapes to overcome 
the deficiency of the other grapes. 

As you were saying about Zinfandel, the variety differs 
according to where it is grown. 

That's right. Same applies to every variety. Take the 
wine made from Thompson grown around Kingsburg, it is 
bitter because of the magnesium in the soil. It is hard 
to drink it except as sweet wine, because there's so 
much magnesium in the soil that shows up in the wine, and 
it's very bitter no matter what you do with it. 

But for instance, all the burgundies on the market, don't 
they vary more than all the Zinfandels? 

The burgundy on the market is just red wine. Made from 
anything, made from Ribier, made from Alicante, made from 
anything. Just red wine; it's a common name. 

But it spans a longer span than Zinfandels, doesn't it? 

No, not really. But that's where the public comes in. 
Now the public buys burgundy, and if it is good burgundy, 
real burgundy, you're going to make sales; the competitor 
would not sell if the public knew wines. But as long as 
the American public buys the label, anything goes as long 
as it's red, and that's all. 

It's not worth making a good burgundy? 
Exactly. It's always a dollar and cents thing. 
So you make a Cabernet Sauvignon that sells? 

If you can. But how can anyone make good Cabernet 
Sauvignon in the Valley? Wine may be produced from 



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Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in the Valley, but it's 
not the Cabernet Sauvignon as it would be understood in 
France, where it's restricted to certain districts only. 

Do you think this country will ever come to controlling 
wines by district the way they do there? 

That could be a possibility. And if we do that, then we 
can improve quality, [repeat] Then we can Improve 
quality. 

And each district would develop its best? 

Yes. But as long as there is a shortage of grapes as 
there is now. . . That will come when there is a surplus 
of grapes. There is no surplus of grapes yet, because 
no winery carries a big inventory. But when the wineries 
are properly financed, and the public can get some good, 
properly aged wine, then the public will begin to know 
the difference. And then the label is going to be the 
second thought. The first thought is going to be what's 
inside the bottle. And I hope we come to that. 



Transcriber: Julie Henderson 
Final Typist: Keiko Sugimoto 



CASA FONDATA. IL 1870 

a«%i 



UVE, VlNl, AcpUAVITEed Oil! d'OlIVA 



vtfommi&tsiene 




157 



PERITO DEGUSTATORE in YIN1 " 



VENDITA Serbajoi. Both. Zaint. Boraccie ed dllri 
recipient! in lele impermeabili special) per uso Mi. 
litari. per deque, per climi Iropicali e slagioni calde 
Brevelli Cms. Pcrelli Mlneth. - NOLEGGIO 5e--b«ioi per 
Uve. acque. ecc. 



sfer Jr^x^x Jf' 





Sample label 



158 



From California Grape Grower . April 193*+ 



A. PERELLI-MINETTI 

AND SONS 

GROWERS AND PRODUCERS OF 

DRY AND SWEET WINES 



A most modern plant built last summer of 
adobe and reinforced concrete insulated 
throughout and equipped with the finest and 
most modern machinery with a storage ca 
pacity of One Million Gallons. 

Located in the Delano district, in the 
north end of Kern Co., it is surrounded by 
ten thousand tons of grapes grown by A. 
Penlli-Mmetti & Sons in their extensive vine- 
yar^ds planted with the finest vines selected 
from hundreds of European specimens that 
have been tested for the last seven years 

Due to the varieties of grapes and the 
ability to produce the highest quality, A. 
Perelli-Minetti 6# Sons are proud to offer t!n 
public the best types of good, sound wines. 

Manufacturing Plant and Vineyards: 
DELANO, (KERN COUNTY), CALIFORNIA 

L 







I I3A II 




159 



Breve sloria di GIUSEPPE e di ANTONIO PEREILI-MINETTI 
Icaliforniano di Bsriella) racconlota da Giovanni Dalmasso. 



(A brief account of Guiseppe and Antonio Perelli-Minetti 
told by Giovanni Dalmasso) 

From Vini D' Italia, March-April 1970 



Estratto da 




WA 



RIVISTA INTKKNAZIONAI.E DI IfcCNICA, I H.1M 

E PROPAGANDA ENOLOG1CA E VI1KOI.A 

anno XIT, n. 65 - mar/o .iprile 1970 



(«'1'6 P ->J Vu L' IV Tamlil 51 . C/c ;H*:J> n. 1, 



160 



Quasi un secolo fa - - esattamente nel 1876 — usciva in Barletta 
la 3" edizione di un libricino di 108 pagine, portante un titolo non 
privo, ancor oggi, di suggestione: Sull'assoluta necessita di migliorare la 
vinificazione delle Tre Puglie. Autore Giuseppe PERELLI-MINETTI, 
Direttore Tecnico degli Stabilimenti vinicoli Rakosi e Perelli, in Bar 
letta e Brindisi. Se nel 1876 1'opera era gia alia 3* edizione (riveduta 
e ampliata) si puo ben supporre che la 1" dovesse risalire proprio ad 
un secolo fa (ma non abbiamo modo d'accertarlo) (1). 

Comunque essa e oggi quasi una rarita bibliografica. Ne esiste un 
esemplare presso la Biblioteca Comunale di Barletta; ma non in quella 
della Cantina Sperimentale, la piu antica di queste istituzioni sorte in 
Italia. Confesso che io ne ignoravo 1'esistenza prima di ricevere una 
fotocopia completa di questo libro dal figlio delP Autore, 1'enotecnico 
Antonio PERELLI-MINETTI. 

Varrebbe la pena di riesumare, analizzandola, quest'opera ormai ve- 
neranda, anche per rendersi conto di qual'era la situazione della viti- 
coltura e dell'enologia pugliese un secolo fa. Non e pero lo scopo pre- 
cipuo di queste mie brevi note. Mi limitero quindi a ricordare che da 
essa si apprende che i vitigni allora predominanti nelle « Tre Puglie » 
crano in gran parte quelli che ancora oggi vi sono piu diffusi, quali 
rUva di Troia (o vitigno di Canosa); il Negro Amaro (o Nero Amaro, 
o Uva Olivetta, o Purcinara), la Lagrima (che 1'Autore considera 
una varieta dell'Olivello), la Malvasia nera, il Susomaniello (cioe il 
Somarello nero), il Primitive, il Nero dolce (o Somarello rosso), I'Alea- 
tico, lo Zagarese, e qualche altro meno coltivato. E fra i bianchi le 
Malvasie, le Moscalelle (che comprendevano anche il Moscato di Trani), 
il Bambino, il Colatamburo, YAsprino, la Verdeca (o Verdea); il Greco, 
il Pagadebito, il Bianco di Palumbo. 

Quanto ai vini di massa, 1'Autore ne distingueva tre tipi: un vino 
rosso-nero comune (o « da pasto meridionale »), un vino « nero da 
taglio », un vino bianco comune. Egli pero affermava che nelle con- 
trade piu favorite si poteva tentare di estendere la confezione di due 
tipi di vini « di lusso »: uno da dessert alcoolico-dolce, e uno alcoolico 



(1) Dal prezioso Saggio storico e bibliografico dell'Agricoltura italiana di 
V. Niccoli (UTET, Torino 1902) risulta che una-1* edizione sarebbe apparsa 
a Milano (Tip. Civelli) ncl 1874; quella del 1876 (Vecchre soci, Barletta) ngura 
come 2". Ma non s'atxenna a una 3*. (G. D.) 

VINI D'ITALIA - 131 



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sccco. Ma la loro preparazione 
(aggiungcva) « ha bisogno di mol- 
te cure e di tante manipolazioni 
per oticnere vari tipi a seconda 
dei vari gusti dci mercati consu- 
matori »; e si possono ottenere 
«pre/./i straordinari », ma dovreb- 
bero « venire direttamente, fin 
dalla raccolta dell'uva, confeziona- 
ti dall'Industria e Commercio ». 
Ripeto che non e mio intendi- 
inento spulciare da questo libro 
quasi centenario le molte cose che 
potrebbero tuttora riuscire inte- 
rcssanti, o quanto meno curiose. 
Mi limitero a ricordare due para- 
grafi dedicafi alia correzione dei 
mosti, o meglio del loro titolo 
zuccherino. Che uno sia dedicate 
a correggere Pabbondanza di parti 
zuccherine » (mediante 1'aggiunta 
di acqua, « meglio se piovana o 
di sorgiva, ma non salmastra »), 
non puo troppo meravigliare. Non 
cosi la correzione della « defi- 
cienza » dello zucchero e il mo- 
do di supplirvi ». Pero, scorrendo 
il « Quadro d'analisi dei mosti 
eseguite in provincia di Terra di 
Bari nell'autunno 1875 », in ap- 
pendice al volume, si vede che 
non mancavano quelli con meno 
di 18° di zucchero, il che per le 
Puglie (e per ottenere vini da ta- 
glio) certo era poco. In tali casi, 
si legge nel libro in questione che 
il « processo che of re buoni ri- 
sultati pralici ed economici, e che 
dal campo della scienza e entrato 
in quello della pratica, e I'addizio- 
ne di zucchero e (non o) di al- 
cool, onde aumentare il grado al- 
coolico del vino. Lo zucchero "piu 
convenitnte" e quello "cosiddetto 
grasso o biondo, di canna non raf- 
finato, o di barbabietola, e che si 
ha sempre a buon prezzo dai di- 
vcrsi mercati". Quanto all'alcool 
il piu indicate e il « reltificato di 
vino e il rettificato di barbabie 
tola a gradi 92 a 96 ». E sorvo- 
liamo sulle modalita indicate per 
qm-ste corrtzioni. Tutto semplice, 
allora, senza tante discussion! sul- 
la loro liceita (allora non c'era an- 
cora una legge speciale sulle sofi- 
stica/.ioni dei mosti e dei vini). 




Veridemmia nei vigneti di Delano in California. 



Ma ripeto che non e mio inten- 
dimento d'addentrarmi in un esa- 
me di quest'opera,. Se mai, sareb- 
be il caso di parlare un po' del suo 
autore, che indubbiamente dove- 
va essere una figura singolare. Ma 
le notizie di cui dispongo sono 
troppo frammentarie. Certo, era 
uomo d'ingegno, e di spirito inno- 
vatore. Abbiamo, fra 1'altro, un 
suo opuscolo (del 1891), pubbli- 
cato sempre in Barletta, su un 
nuovo tipo di « serbatoi e reci- 
pienti economici per uva pigiata, 
mosti e vini in tele impermeabili», 
adatti sia per trasporti ferroviari, 
che per battelli (a vapore o a vela), 
e a dorso d'animali, anche per 



paesi caldi o caldissimi (consiglia 
bill anche « per missionari catto 
lici»!). E ancora, refrigeranti eco 
nomici, pure da lui brevettati 
Ed egli ottenne numerosi ricono 
scimenti (medaglie, diplomi) ij 
Esposizioni e Most re in Italia < 
alTestero, alle quali partecipo an 
che come giurato (fra il 1884 < 
il 1900). 

Mori il 18 marzo 1907. 



* * * 



Ma piu che di lui intendo qu 
occuparmi del figlio: enotecnia 
Antonio PERELLI - MINETTI : 
uno dei piu giovani Accademic 
Corrispondenti Stranieri dell'Ac 



•T- 




Carico di serbatoi ferroviari per vino nello stabilimento di Delano 
(il vino resta tutto I'anno all'aperto). 



• : f 



\ I t *- - 1 

H 

In ' ' 

J il . ! 




Arrivo e scarico dcll'uva 
allo stabilimento. 



163 




cademia Italiana della Vite e del 
Vino, malgrado sia nato il 3 giu- 
gno 1882 (anch'egli, a Barletta). 
Dico « uno del piu giovani », 
perche egli da dei punti a molti 
suoi colleghi che, secondo lo stato 
civile, lo dovrebbero essere assai 
piu di lui. Infatti quasi ogni anno 
egli se ne parte da Delano in Ca 
lifornia dove ha, e personalmente 
dirige, la sua grandiosa azienda vi- 




Colonne distiltatrici. 

ti-vinicola-distillatoria per farsi un 
viaggetto in Europa (quando non 
ne fa due, come durante lo scor- 
so 1969). E in tali occasion! non 
manca d'intervenire a qualche no- 
stra riunione accademica, come al- 
le assemble dell'Associazione Eno- 
tecnici Italian!. Partecipo anche 
aH'ultirna dell'A.E.I. tenutasi in 
Milano il 15 novembre u.s. in oc- 
casionc del 4° SIMEI alia Fiera 
di Milano. E il Presidente dell'As- 
socia^ione Enotccnici, enot. Emi- 



Macchina per ridurrc I raspi 
In trucioli. 



;{ 4 - VINT n'lTAl IA 



lio Sirnagiotto, lo saluto caloro- 
samente quale decano ch-gli cno- 
tfcnifi italiiini, csscnilo diplomatO 
alia Scuola di Conegliano proprio 
all'ini/iodd sccolo(ncl 1901 )(2). 
Ren a ragione il Scrnagiotlo ju 
nior ha dctto chc il Perclli-Minetti 
« e un Ita^iano che ha fatto onore 
alia sua Patria ». E voile ricordare 
1'inizio fortunoso della sua movi- 
mentata attivita d'oltre Oceano. 
Partito senza neppure il passapor- 
to su una vecchia nave francese, 
giunge in California (via Canada), 
dove, fra mille difficolta e alterne 
viccnde, riusci a creare una delle 
piu solide e potenti Industrie eno- 
logiche californiane: la A. PE- 
RELLI-MINETTI & SONS - 
Cramers - Producers of Choice 
Wines & Brandies - P.O. Box 818 
- DELANO (California). 

Basta qualche cifra per dar una 
idea della grandiosita dell'azienda: 
circa 2.500 acri di vigneti (1 et- 
taro equivale a 2,47 acri), tutti 
pcrfeitamcnte livellati, con una 
rete di condutture sotterranee in 
i cemt-nto di 30 cm di diametro per 
1'irri^axione — con una valvola 

O 

di 5 pollici per 1'uscita dell'acqua 
all'inizio di ogni filare di viti - 
e con un complesso di 30 km di 
tubazioni. 

Cipacita degli stabilimenti di 
Delano (per vini e succhi d'uva) 
7 milioni di galldni (circa 250.000 
ettolitri), di cui 80 mila in cemen- 
to armato, 40 mila in acciaio inos- 
sidabile per i vini (tutto all'aper- 
to), e 32 mila per il brandy, prima 
. che questo venga messo in barili 
da 2 ettolitri, questi in locali chiu- 
si, per l'invecchiamcnio; oggi per 
economia di spazio i barili si di- 
spongono sovrapposti in pile di 7 



(2) Per la storia: nello stesso anno 
il sottoscritio iniziava i suoi studi viti- 
viniroli presso la S<-nola Enologica di 
Alba, dove aveva la fonuna di irovare, 

ECome suo primo Maestro di Viticol- 
tura, il nonno del Presidente del- 
1'A E.I.: il prof. RafFaele Sernagiotto, 
che ]o prendeva subito a benevolerc. 
E da !ui apprese anche la passione per 
gli studi non puramente scolastici e 

>iecnici. (G. D.) 



da 1.800 a 2.600 barili, chc gene- 
ralmcntc rapprcsentano un solo ta- 
glio, esistendo a lal fine tini di ac 
ciaio inossidabile da 200.000 gal- 
loni. 

Natur.ilmente lo stabilimcnto e 
dotato del piu moderno e potente 
macchinario. A quesio proposito 
e intcrcssante ricordare che la 
Ditta E. Sernagiotto di Casteggio 
gli fornl tre anni or sono il tipo 
piu grande delle sue pigiatrici, 
della potenzialita di 600 q.li d'uva 
all'ora. II Perelli-Minetti ne ac- 
quisto una in prova, come una 
«macchinetta» (egli 1'avrebbe vo- 



luta di una potenzialita,10 volte 
maggiore!), e se la porto in Cali 
fornia come bngaglio sul transa- 
tlnntico passcggeri, per polcrla 
mcttcer subito alia prova. Gli e 
chc egli nclla sua « Vineria » dcve 
smaltire giornalmente da due a 
tremila quintali d'uva della pro- 
pria azicnda. La vendemmia e solo 
par/.ialmente meccanizzata. Per es- 
sa si ricorre a operai messicani 
specializzati, ciascuno dei quali 
raccoglie in media da 8 a 10 quin 
tali d'uva all'ora, guadagnando 
6,50-7 dollari per ogni ora lavora- 
tiva (oltre 4.000 lire!). 




rfra.j ^ "^^Ref - ^%< 

12 • 



L'enotecnico ANTONIO PERELLI-MINETTI (88 anni. legge sen;a occhiali. non ha bis 
di apparecchi acustici, nuota come on ventenne e viaggia per tutto il mondo) 
accanto a una batteria di barili del suo brandy. 



165 



Nelle prime due-tre settimane 

di vendemmia si pigiano fino a 

2.000 tonncllate d'uva al giorno; 

ncl periodo vendemmiale (die 

isi prolunga a siagione molto avan- 

jzata), si superano le 80 mila ton- 

nellate. Per prclevare i campioni 

d'uva da ogni rarico si nsano 

pariicolari coclee a/ionate mecca- 

picamcnte. 

I raspi vcngono complctamente 

eliminati mcdiante pou-nti mac- 

rliiiie che li riducono in finissimi 

•rucioli onde poter distillare le 

co in alambicchi continui. 

La « Vincria » Pcrelli-Minctti 
produce svariati tipi di vini die 
potrcnnno dire comuni da pasto, 
ohie a vini speciali tipo Sherry, 
Porto, c simili, nonche Moscati li- 
•juorosi, e Vcrmut dolce e secco. 
II nostro « giovane » collega nel- 
rtiltima sua visita che mi fece a 
Torino nel novtmbre u.s. mi por- 
to un variopinto campionario dei 
suoi prodotti perche pok-ssi far- 
nit nc un'idea. Com 'era prevedi- 
bile, quelli da pasto « di normale 
consume » non possono avere per 
noi particolare interesse; quelli 
« speciali » invece di piu (case 
molto frequente quando si dcgu- 
stano vini, diciamo cosi, esotici). 



Naturalincnte, pur rcstando san- 
pre abbastan/.a lontani dai tipi 
original! dei nostri Paesi europei. 

II 50 per cento dei vini da pa 
sto viene smerciato in bottiglie 
fra agosto e gennaio. II brandy 
vicne invecchiato (in fusti) da 2 
a 10 anni a seconda delle marche. 
Si produce anche (con grandiosi 
almbicchi) alcool a 95°. E mosti 
concentrati con un grosso concen- 
tratore in acciaio inossidabile. Alia 
produxjone di vapore provvede 
una caldaia di 1 .000 cavalli ad 
alta pressione e 4 caldaie a bassa 
pressione. 

Lo stabilimento e provvisto di 
nn laboratorio chimico con le piu 
moderne attre/zature, nel quale 
operano due chimici con un assi- 
stente. E ben si comprende come 
il nostro Perelli-Minetti sostenga 
che i nostri enotecnici debbano es- 
sere dei « veri e propri enochi- 
mici ». Ma anche dei provetti vi- 
ticoltori. Cosa insospettata: egli 
mi dichiara che vari vini rossi da 
pasto ch'egli produce sono pro 
dotti con uvc di vitigni da lui ot- 
tenuti da seme, scelti fra varie cen- 
tinaia di esemplari da lui stesso 
seminati! Naturalmente, scnxa 
controllare la fccondazione dei fio- 



ri, che egli non si e prefisso di 
fare il creatore di nuovi tipi se- 
condo le regole della genetica; egli 
potrebbe dirsi nn « pepinicrista » 
come quelli che operavano nel 
Nord America ncl sccolo dccimo- 



nono. 



* * * 



II discorso potrebbe continuare 
a lungo, che la straordinaria mul- 
tiforme attivita di Antonio Pcrel- 
li-Minelli non puo esscre conden- 
sata in pochc pagine. E merilcreb- 
be di essere ben piu cfficacemente 
illustrata, infiorandola di gustosi 
aneddoti che meglio potrebbero 
far risaltare la sua eccezionale per- 
sonalita. 

Ma anche da queste brevi e di- 
sordinate note ci sembra che risul- 
ti piu che giustificata rafTerma/io- 
ne che egli e veramente uno di 
quegli italiani che hanno fatto 
onore alia loro Patria, mai da lui 
dimenticata. E che bene a lui si 
addica il motto, col quale il pa 
dre suo chiudeva il libro che ab- 
biamo qui sopra ricordato: 

« Voltre e polere ». 

G. DALMASSO 



• 







.-— • - — p.- 

.. 



O. Box S2S 







GRANT'S WINERY 



jtutctr.ent ... . 



•V 



3C " 
30 " 



iv(.r bo^torr. innd in 

" u ' \oj:.".o:t vino-. 

rt.ilotant virr 3 ;.. i a oil 



;30 " • iftnd not pl.r.utcd ". 

il£_.. in3.'V J-u" l f " i-ill ^ otorl*^ one Li cc-r::it 
r ; 5'Juv ' f . «\ 1 1 on.T c -j o k )e r'X' e 

I crur l :f.r ,1 T.o.'t ya- ; . ^i-ix,?,4 ate^tr. yump 
1 i/oi-^'^" 1 i/r:.'-, 1 I." hjr^c j>j\'6r iiollcr 



M ' 20Q 
* "280 
70 



11 

11 



6000.- 



IGLj If. 


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^300.- 


15 horr x 


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v-700.- 




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40000.- 


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4000.- 



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166 



INDEX -- Antonio Perelli-Minetti 



Accademia Italiana delle Vite e del Vino, Siena, 34, 35, 36 
Adams, Hugh, 69, 77, 131 
Aguayo, Marque sde, 44 
Algerian wine, 149 
Allegrini, Julius, 19, 20, 116 
Almaden [vineyards], 144, 147, 155 
American Biscuit Company, 12 
American Express Company, 114 
Amerine, Maynard, 136 
Anglo-California Wine Company, 60, 94 
Antonovich, Mrs. Annie. See Simi, Annie 
Arakelian, K. (Krikor) , 51 
Armour Packing Company, 72 
Aristocrat (label), 78 
Ash, Charles, 23 

Asti, 12, 18, 19, 20, 24, 32, 44, 91, 113, 114, 115. (See also Italian 
Swiss Colony) 



Baccigaluppi, Harry, 62, 135 

Bank of America, 64, 68, 85 

Bank of Italy, 68 

Bare, Jack, 76, 131 

Barlotti, James A., 69, 76, 119, 120, 130 

Barosch, Baron de, 36 

Beaulieu Vineyard, 140 

Beccaro, Alfredo, 122 

Beccuti, Joseph, 50 

Biane, Marius, 119 

Biane, Philo, 119, 120 

Billings, Lawrence, 54 

Black, Shirley, 20 

bootleggers, 17, 18, 139 

brandy, 50, 77-78, 100, 103, 104, 106, 108, 138, 142 

Bree family, 135 

Bromley, , 59 



Caddow, Harry, 133 

Caire, Justinian, 112 

California Fruit Canners Association, 11 

California Grape Products Co., 40, 55-61, 62, 69, 70, 123-124, 126, 127 



167 



California Growers Winery, 100 

California Packing Corporation (Del Monte Foods), 11, 23 

California Vineyardists Association, 68, 124, 126 

California Wine Association, 13, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 53, 68, 69, 70, 

75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 90, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 103, 104, 107, 

114, 117, 129, 131, 132, 139 
Caligrapo, 59 
Cardenas, Felipe F., 45 
Cardenas, Miguel, 42, 45, 46 
Carlo Rossi (label), 149 
Carothers, George, 47 
Castillon, Juan, 44 

Cella (wine company), 79, 102-103. See also Roma 
Central Valley federal irrigation project, 81 
Cepeda, Arredondo, 44, 45 
Cepeda, Jesus, 44 

Cherokee Vineyard Association, 76, 96, 97, 101, 117 
Chianti (California wine district), 21, 114, 116 
Christian Brothers, 78, 92 
Ciocca-Lombardi [Wine] Company, 12 
Cino, Francesco, 109 
Colombo Hotel, 12 
Colonial Grape Products, 75, 117 
colure, 37 

Comiskey, James E., Company, 78-79 
Community Grape Corporation, 69, 70, 96, 117 
concentrate, 14, 60-61, 68, 69, 70, 79 
Conn, Donald D. , 68, 69, 124, 126, 133 
cooperatives, 95-97, 98-99, 100, 146 
Cora, Ariberto, 28 
Cora Vermouth, 28 

Cresta Blanca [Wine Company] , 64, 142 
Critchfield, Burke, 87 
Croce, Giuseppe, 50 
Cuatro Cienegas, 44, 45 
Cucamonga, 74 
Cucamonga Growers Cooperative Winery, 96, 127 

Dalmasso, Giovanni, 34, 35, 38 

Daniels, Bebe, 74 

de Bano, Jose, 44 

Delano Growers Cooperative Winery, 43, 77, 96 

de Latour, Georges, 42, 92 

de Vecchi, Paolo, 115 

de Vecchi, Mrs. Paolo. See Follis, Margaret 



168 



Diaz, Don Porfirio, 45, 46 

Di Giorgio, Joseph, 36, 37, 53, 54, 55, 61, 62, 63, 64, 69, 70, 72, 73, 125 

Di Giorgio, Joe (nephew), 63 

Dondero, George, 12 

Durant, W.C. , 152 

Durrell, Jack, 100 

Earthquake, San Francisco, 1906, 27-29, 32 
Eleven Cellars (label), 96 



family corporations, 80-81, 82 
Federal Farm Board, 125, 128 
Federspiel, Sophus, 12, 75, 116-117 

Ferrigno, , 45 

Ficklin winery, 141, 142, 151 
Fior d 'Italia (restaurant), 10, 11 
flavored wines, 139, 140 
Florin Winery Association, 96, 127 
Follis, Margaret, 115, 116 
Fontana, Mark J. (Marco), 10, 11, 111 
Foppiano, Louis, 29, 30 
Franceschi, Louis, 103 
Franceschini, William, 24 
Franzia, Giuseppe, 80 
Franzia (wine company), 80 
French -American Wine Company, 57, 59 

Fruit Industries, 14, 16, 61, 62, 64, 67, 68-70, 75-79, 90, 93, 95, 103, 
117-132, 137 



Gallo, Ernest and Julio (winery), 79, 80, 84, 100, 102, 133, 135, 142, 143, 

144, 146, 147, 155 
Gallo, Ernest, 89 
Gallo, Mrs. Ernest, 80 
Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 109, 110 
Garret t & Company, 77, 127 

Garrett, Paul, 69, 70, 77, 117, 118, 119, 120, 125, 127 
Gherini, Mrs. Ambrose. See Rossi, Maria 
Giannini, A. P., 31, 38, 123 
Giannini, Frank, 49, 50, 52, 122, 123 

Gobbi, , 57 

Grace Brothers, 70 
Grace, Joseph, 70 
grapes 

raisin, 88 

table, 72, 88 

wine, 88 



169 



grape syrup, 59 

Green, Russell H. and Betty Jean, 32 

Greystone (label) , 78 

Guasti, Secondo, Jr., 67, 69, 73, 76, 85, 117, 118, 119, 120, 130 

Guasti, Mrs. Secondo, Jr. (nee" Orcutt) , 119 

Guasti, Secondo, Sr. , 73, 119 

Guasti, Secondo III, 73 

Guasti, William (Bill), 73, 74 

Guasti vineyards, 118-121 

Guasti Winery. See Italian Vineyard Co. 

Guild (Wine Company), 57, 92, 93, 99 



Haigh, Fred, 27, 32 

Haigh, Mrs. Fred. See Simi, Isabel 

Haigh, Vivien, 32 " 

Haraszthy, Agoston, 36 

Heublein [Inc.], 144, 147 

Hiram Walker (Company) , 104 

Hoover, Herbert, 68, 69, 70, 124-125 

Hulmer, Isaac, 47 



I tali an -American Bank, 68, 115 

Italian-Swiss Agricultural Colony, 10 

Italian Swiss Colony, 4-5, 10, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 24, 31, 33, 68, 75, 

77, 78, 91, 111, 113, 114, 116, 117, 121, 138, 147' 
Italian Vineyard Company, 67, 69, 70, 74, 92, 107, 121, 125, 127, 130 



Kern County Land Company, 99 
Kirkman, William, 46, 47 
Klostenberg, Count of, 38 

Knowles, , 43 

Krone, , 27 



labels, 146-147 

L & J (label), 78 

Lachman & Jacobi, 13, 75, 77 

Lagomarsino, Frank, 123 

Lagomarsino, Fred, 123 

Lanza, Horace 0., 39, 62, 63, 75, 99, 117, 119, 121, 127, 130, 135 

Lawrence Warehouse, 64 



170 



Kirkorian, Berge, 51 



Lawson, , 119 

Lodi Winery, Inc., 76, 96, 97 
Lorenzini, Domenico, 24 
Lyons, George A., Jr., 151 



Macray, Pop, 114 

Madero, Evanisto, 44 

Madero, Francisco I., 44, 46, 48 

Malati, Calafonia, 31 

Malesani, , 91 

Mannon, Charlie, 58, 59 

Marshall, L.K. , 92-93 

Martini, Louis, M. , 91, 92, 140-141 

Masson, Paul [winery], 25, 138, 144, 147, 155 

McAdoo, William G. , 93 

mechanical harvesting, 83-84, 152-154 

Mokelumne Winery, 96, 127 

Monjavas, Jesus, 46 

Montepulciano Winery. See Simi Winery 

Monti, Professor Eudo, 59-60 

Monti, Vincent W. , 26 

Morgan, Percy, 20 

Morgan, Mrs. Percy, 21 

Morrow, A.R. , 21, 23, 24, 76-77, 131 

Morrow, A.R. (label, 78, 104 

Mother Lode area wines, 151 

Muscat Co-operative Winery Association, 129 



Nardini, A., 24, 25 

National Distillers, 138 

National Recovery Act of 1933, 137 



Oliveto Wine Company, 24, 25, 92 

Ollino, Dr. Giuseppe, 5 

Olmo, H.P. 40 

O'Melveny and Myers, 82 

One -hundred -sixty-acre law, 80-82 

Orcutt, W.W., 119 



171 



Paderewski, Ignace, 152 

Pagani, Louis, 56 

Pardee, George C., 28 

Passalacqua, Edith, 25 

Paul, Al, 88 

Perelli-Minetti, A. & Sons Winery, 64, 66-67, 96, 97, 101-108, 142, 155 

Perelli-Minetti, Caesar, 6 

Perelli-Minetti, Carlo, 6, 28, 31 

Perelli-Minetti, Conchita, 53 

Perelli-Minetti, Frederick ("BZ"), 6, 53, 54 

Perelli-Minetti, Giuseppe, 1-2, 5, 6, 31, 33, 109-112 

Perelli-Minetti, Jean, 35, 53, 82, 109 

Perelli-Minetti, Joseph, 5, 6 

Perelli-Minetti, Julius (Giulio) , 6, 24, 31, 119 

Perelli-Minetti, Mario, 30, 53, 76, 93-95, 122 

Perelli-Minetti, William (Bill), 42 

Peritori, Enrico, 7 

Petri, Louis, 78 

Petri, Raffaello, 57, 92 

Petri [wine company] , 51 

phylloxera, 38, 39, 109 

Piedmont Winery, 50 

Pierson and Company, 48 

Pinella, , 27 

Pioneer Winery, 23, 76 

pollinization, 41 

Portuguese vines, 40 

Post and Klusman, 119 

Post, Morton, 119 

Powers, Lucius, Jr., 135-136 

Powers, Lucius, Sr. , 136 

Prati, Enrico, 20, 91, 116 

Prohibition, 14, 16, 17, 23, 33, 34, 42, 57, 61, 63, 68, 70, 71, 79, 84, 

92, 94, 114, 117, 119, 132, 137, 139, 152, 154 
prorate, 86-87 



raisins, 88, 147 

Rakosi, Julius, 2 

Rancho del Oso Winery, 76, 96 

Red Light Abatement Act, 114-115 

Redwood Industrial California Corporation, 43, 64 

Repeal, 61, 70, 71, 75, 77, 84, 103, 132 

Repetto, Victor, 40, 62 

Rietz, Carl A., 105 

Rietz disintegrator, 105-106 

Rocca, , 10 



172 



Rolandi, F.S., 116 

Roma [wine company] , 142. See also Cella 

Roosevelt [Franklin D. ], 70, 138 

Rosenstiel, Lewis S. , 38, 135, 145 

Rossi, Albina, 112 

Rossi, Edmund A., 19 

Rossi, Esther, 112 

Rossi, Maria, 113 

Rossi, P. Carlo, 112 

Rossi, Pietro C., 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 25, 77, 91, 111-113, 115 

Rossi, Mrs. Pietro C., 111-112 

Royal College of Viticulture and Oenology of Conegliano, 3, 4 



Sannino, Professor, 36 
Santa Fe Railroad, 70 

Sartori, , 29 

Sartori, Joseph F. , 85, 148 

Sartori, Wallace, 85 

Sbarbaro, Andrea, 10, 18, 20, 68, 111, 114, 115 

Scatena, , 119 

Scatena Brothers Wine Company, 92 

Scatena, Lawrence, 31 

Scatena, Mrs. Louis. See Simi, Elvira 

Scavengers' Protective Association, 16, 17 

Schenley [Distillers], 61, 64, 76, 78, 138, 141, 142, 144-145 

Schlesinger Brothers, 13 

Schmidt, Frank (winery), 29, 30-31, 42, 44 

Schmidt, Mayor , 57 

Seagram, 144 

Security Bank, Fresno, 64 

Security First National Bank, 84, 85, 148 

Seghesio family, 116 

set-aside, 135, 136 

Setrakian, A., 88, 89, 99, 100, 142 

Shakes, , 57 

Sierra Vista, 90 

Simi, Annie, 27 

Simi, Elvira, 27 

Simi, Isabel, 27, 32 

Simi, Joseph (Giuseppe), 26, 27 

Simi, Pietro, 26, 27 

Simi, Mrs. , 33 

Simi Winery, 16, 26-27, 29, 32-33 

Smith, Alfred, 125 

Sonoma Cooperative Winery, 96 



173 

Sonoma County Cooperative, 127 
Southern California Edison Company, 81 
Standard Oil Company, 131 
Stauffer Chemical Company, 112 
Stockton Tunnel, San Francisco, 116 
sweet wines, 71, 75, 103, 139 

table wines, 50, 71, 75, 100, 101, 114, 138, 139 
tanks, winery, 102-103 
Tarpey Winery, 118 

Taylor, , 62 

Taylor, Walter E., 62, 70, 76, 77, 84, 93, 95, 96, 119, 129, 131 
Tenneco, Inc . , 99 

Traverso, , 44 

Tribune, Domenico, 42, 55, 56, 59 

Tribune and Garrish [Company], 59 

Tribune, Jack, 31, 53, 124 

Tribune, Mario P., 31, 40, 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 59, 62, 64, 72, 123, 126, 152 

Turner, Mrs. Ethel Duffy, 48 

Turner, John, 48 

Union Oil Company, 73, 119 

United Fruit Company, 73 

United Vintners, 79, 102 

University of California, Berkeley, 84 

University of California, Davis, 3 

Vai, Jim, 65 

Valley Foundry disintegrators, 105, 106 

Vertiz, , 46 

Villa, Pancho, 47-48 

Virginia Dare [wine tonic] , 117 

Wahtoke (label), 79 

Wallace, George, 42-43, 62, 65, 82, 101 

Wallace Winery, 43, 64, 103 

Warren, Earl, 86-87 

white wines, 61 

Willebrandt, Mabel Walker, 36, 69, 125, 128-129 

Wine Advisory Board, 132, 134 

Winehaven, 91, 131 

Wine Institute, 98, 132-134 

wine pasteurization, 13-15 

Woodbridge Vineyard Association, 96 

yeasts, 13-14, 52, 60, 64 

York winery (at Templeton) , 152 



174 



Wines Mentioned in the Interview 

burgundy, 155 

Cabernet Sauvignon, 155, 156 

chablis, 34 

Hock, 34 

Muscat, 129 

port, 50, 75 

sherry, 60, 75 

vermouth, 124 



Grapes Mentioned in the Interview 

Alicante, 155 

Alicante Bouschet, 34 

Burger, 34 

Cabernet Sauvignon, 156 

Carignane, 34, 47 

Chasselas, 36, 37 

Emperor, 47, 105 

Mataro, 34, 42 

Muscat, 47, 129 

Pearl of Csaba, 37, 38 

Petite Sirah, 34, 42, 47 

Primitive, 34, 35 

Riesling, 34 

Ribier, 155 

Sauvignon, 34 

Thompson, 47, 129, 147, 155 

Tinta amarella, 40 

Tinto clo, 40 

Tutti Frutti, 37 

"Zierfandler," 34, 35 

Zinfandel, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 47, 50, 122, 150, 155 



Ruth Teiser 

Bora 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 19^3, writing on local history and busi 
ness and social life of the Bay Area. 
Book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, 
19143-197)4. 



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