From the 1890s into the mid-1950s the Cucamonga-Guasti- Ontario Wine District was considered California’s largest winegrowing and wine-producing district. Much of our valley’s grape and wine prosperity is owed to Secondo Guasti, who founded the Italian Vineyard Company in 1883 and built it into a gigantic wine enterprise prior to Prohibition.
Guasti, a farm laborer, had come to Southern California from Asti, in the Piedmont region of his native Italy via Mexico. After coming to Los Angeles in 1878 he hired on as a cook in an Italian restaurant. There he fell in love with and married the daughter of the proprietor.
Before purchasing the land, Guasti and his wife would quite often travel to the dry, sandy area which sprawled below the beautiful foothills of Cucamonga. On each of his visits he would consider the possibility of turning this expanse of desert land into a great, thriving vineyard. Others thought it crazy but Guasti knew it could be done.
Guasti noticed that the heavy winter rains flowed from the mountains and then disappeared. After discovering that water lay beneath the valley’s sandy/gravel floor, he organized the Italian Vineyard Company, purchased eight square miles and planted numerous varieties of premium wine grapes. He brought in cuttings from Italy and France. This vineyard eventually grew to be over 5,000 acres in size.
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, fire house and church. The church was beautifully constructed in 1924 to resemble the one he had attended in Asti. The Guasti vineyards were advertised as “The World’s Largest” — over 5,000 contiguous “vine to vine” acres. Secondo Guasti also made sure that the educational and physical needs of the families were taken care of. He established a school for the children and made arrangements for a doctor to visit the company town about every two weeks.
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 giant Brookside Vineyard Co. to the location. Corporate development necessitated a move to our new location, where we hope you enjoy your historically good breakfast and lunch!