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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Foppiano Family Feud

Several months ago Sonoma County's second oldest family winery, Seghesio, sold. While the sale was big news the family infighting that went on over the sale remained mostly private.  No so with Sonoma County's oldest family winery. The Foppiano family feud is going to court.

Foppiano Winery was founded in 1896 by Giovanni Foppiano. His son, Louis J. Foppiano, is 101 years old now. He passed control to his son, Louis M., several years ago. The wine style has pretty much been "stuck in the '70s" so the younger Louis M. (64 years old actually) started to modernize just as the economy went south. They got into debt, his sister accused her brother of skimming money for himself, the sister got fired. Nice. Wouldn't you have loved to have been at their Thanksgiving family dinner table this year?
Louis Jr.
being sued by his sis

Now a county judge will hear the case and decide how to divide things or more likely the brother, Louis M., may have to buy his sister out.  That may be what she wants.  Nothing like a business to turn families against each other. This won't be as important to the California wine industry as the Peter and Robert Mondavi breakup in the 1960s, but it could be the end of another long-time family winery.

The trial should be wrapped up before the end of the year.

Press Democrat article

Update 12/24/11:
The feuding Foppiano factions have agreed on hiring someone to oversee the family trust, that is to control the money. We'll see where this leaves the winery in the coming years.