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Monday, March 26, 2012

Louis Foppiano

Louis J. Foppiano passed away at 101 years old. He was the patriarch of Sonoma County's oldest family-run winery. Louis was the ultimate grape farmer in a business where you mostly read about the various rich and/or famous vintners.

He was born on the same farm where he lived and worked his entire life. Louis' grandfather immigrated from Italy and purchased the land in 1896. His father took over in 1910, but passed away in 1924. From then on Louis was running the ranch with his family.

He went through Prohibition, the jug wine years, and watched California blossom as a premium wine growing region. During Prohibition they survived by growing fruit. After Prohibition ended he was one of the first to jump back into the wine business. Just before WWII he helped start the Wine Institute of California and served on its board for almost five decades. Just after the war he helped get the Sonoma County Wine Growers Association going and was its first president. He was in many ways the founder and father of Sonoma County wine.

Foppiano Winery is best known for Petite Sirah because that was his passion. In these days of flashy wineries and wines Foppiano Winery is decidedly old-style.

A couple years ago he formally gave control to his son Louis Jr and daughter Susan. The two of them had a noisy clash over the running of the winery just a few months ago and are no longer in charge (December post on Foppiano Family Feud). What will happen with this family operation isn't fully known yet.  Let's hope the family gets their act together.

Thank you sir for your years of hard work.
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