The Seghesio story begins in 1886, when Edoardo Seghesio departed his family’s vineyards in Piedmont, Italy, for a new life in America. Like so many immigrants, he was drawn to Northern Sonoma County and the Italian Swiss Colony to follow his passion for winemaking. The “Colony,” as it was known, hired immigrants for three-year stints, providing room and board, and a lump sum at the end of those three years enabling employees to buy land or set up a business in their new homeland.
Edoardo quickly rose through the ranks to winemaker, yet he yearned for home. The Colony’s manager repeatedly encouraged him to stay, and finally, it was the manager's niece and the opportunity to purchase land that convinced Edoardo to remain. That young girl, Angela Vasconi, and Edoardo were married in 1893. In 1895, they purchased a modest home in northern Alexander Valley, more for the surrounding 56 acres Edoardo recognized as ideal vineyard land than for the home itself. They planted the Home Ranch that year to what became the family’s lifeline—Zinfandel.
Edoardo remained at the Colony while building his own winery in the evenings after work. Upon its completion in 1902, the young couple began Seghesio Winery while raising their five children. In 1910, they acquired additional acreage surrounding the bustling train station in what was then the town of Chianti. Edoardo, appropriately, planted the 10 acres to the Chianti field blend of Sangiovese, Canielao Nero, Trebbiano and Malvasia. That vineyard, called Chianti Station, is North America’s oldest planting of Sangiovese.
In the years preceding Prohibition, the business flourished, and the Seghesio family gained a reputation for quality wine and their generosity toward others getting their start in the fledgling wine industry.
Six months prior to Prohibition—and convinced it could not last more than a year—Edoardo made a decision to purchase his former employer, Italian Swiss Colony. The Colony, with a 4 million-gallon capacity winery and its 1,100 acres of vineyards, was quite a value at $127,500. As Prohibition prevailed, however, the debt was too much for Edoardo to bear. In 1920, he brought on partners: his brother-in-law, Enrico Prati, and the Rossi Family, who were previous owners and at whose request Edoardo came to America. Edoardo sold his shares in 1933.
Upon repeal of Prohibition, the family once again opened the doors of the winery and Seghesio was making a comeback. Unfortunately, Edoardo passed away in 1934, leaving the winery and all property to Angela. From then, Angela and her sons, Arthur, Frank and Eugene, continued making wine and shipping via the railroad. With their hard-earned knowledge, they added vineyards when they could purchase them without debt. In 1949, they purchased a second winery facility in Healdsburg to enable them to keep up with the growing demand for their wines.
In January 1958, newspaper headlines announced that Sonoma County’s wine industry had lost its matriarch when Angela passed away. Angela’s legacy as an industry leader and a great chef lives on in her grandchildren. Her sons formed a partnership based on the ideals of their parents, family, hard work and passion for the industry.
From the time of Angela’s death until the mid-1970s, the Seghesio family flourished in the bulk wine business, producing most of the red wine made in Sonoma County. At the peak, 1.7 million gallons were produced between the original winery in Chianti and the Healdsburg winery. Yet as the industry evolved, so did the Seghesio family. In 1983, the first wines were bottled under the Seghesio label at the hands of Ted Seghesio, a fourth-generation family winemaker.
Ted was not only the winemaker; he sold and delivered wine, as well. In 1986, his cousin Peter Seghesio joined the business and began to set up a distribution network nationwide. By 1993, the Seghesio brand had grown to 130,000 cases of not only the family’s Zinfandel and Italian varietals, but also Chardonnay, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, and red and white table wines. It was in that year that the younger generation was given control of the winery. They too shared a love of the land and a desire to produce wines they were passionate about. They turned their focus to the vineyards and eliminated all but the wines produced with fruit they farmed, reducing production to 30,000 cases.
Seghesio Family Vineyards joined Crimson Wine Group in 2011. Several family members are involved in the winery's operations, including Winegrower Peter Seghesio and Winemaker Ted Seghesio. Today, Seghesio Family Vineyards is proud to produce wines made almost exclusively from estate-owned and estate-farmed vineyards, including those Edoardo and Angela first planted in the late 1800s.