1881
Andrea Sbarboro and the development of Italian Americans in California's wine industry.


Andrea Sbarboro (1839-1923) was a central factor in the emergence of Italian Americans in California's wine industry. Born in Genoa, Italy in 1839, he came to California in 1852, working first as a grocer in San Francisco and then became a banker and an entrepreneur. In 1881 he organized his fellow Northern Italians to settle co-operatively a large plot of land at Asti, California, opened a night school for Italian Americans, and started an Italian bank. He was also interested in wine production and teamed up with chemist Pietro C. Rossi. Sbarboro organized Italian Swiss Colony Wine Corporation that overcame early adversity to become a premier wine producer. In opposition to a growing prohibition movement, he wrote a booklet indicating that wine-drinking nations had low alcohol problems and became the leading proponent of the use of wine in moderation. Sbarboro's banking activity, coupled with those of Amodeo P. Giannini, helped to finance Italian agriculture in the West and transformed the banking industry.

Among other Italian Americans who followed Sbarboro in the wine making industry was Secondo Guasti, who established the world's largest vineyard, and Louis Petri who produced a popular brand of wines that eventually was purchased by the Inglenook Wine Corporation. Still other important Northern Italians in California to flourish in the industry were the Mondavi family, known as makers of fine white wines, Louis M. Martini, the Gallo family, and the DiGiorgio family. The latter family was also highly successful as shippers of fresh fruit.

Robert Mondavi





View Previous Entry     View Next Entry       Back to Timeline