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Secundo Guasti

Portrait of Secundo GuastiSecundo Guasti

From the 1890s into the mid-1950s, the Cucamonga-Guasti-Ontario Wine District was considered California's largest wine-growing and wine-producing district. Much of the valley's grape and wine prosperity is owed to Secundo Guasti, who founded the Italian Vineyard Company in 1883 and built it into a gigantic wine enterprise prior to Prohibition.

Arriving from the Piedmont region of his native Italy, Guasti noticed that the heavy winter rains flowed from the mountains and then disappeared. After discovering that water lay beneath the valley's sandy floor, he organized the Italian Vineyard Company, purchased eight square miles and planted numerous varieties of premium wine grapes.

Guasti brought whole families from Italy to till the land, build the winery and an Italian town that he named "Guasti". A "company town", it had its own school, inn, general store (as well as scrip), fire house and church. The church was beautifully constructed to resemble the one he had attended in Asti, in northern Italy. The Guasti vineyards were advertised as "The World's Largest", having over 5,000 continuous acres.

The stone winery buildings in the town of Guasti, have been associated with a number of different business names over the years. Erected first in 1904 as part of the Italian Vineyard Company, they were used during Prohibition by Fruit Industries, Ltd. (later to become California Wine Association). In 1945 they were acquired by Garrett & Company, and in 1956 the Biane family moved their Brookside Vineyard Company to the location. Later the original cooperage building was used by Joseph Filippi Winery as a tasting room.

The Guasti property, which was owned by the Edwin Pauley family from the 1950s, was sold to the development firm Oliver McMillan in June 2006. The site will become a mixed use retail, entertainment, hospitality, residential and office site scheduled for opening in fall 2009, while also preserving a portion of the historic original Guasti village