In the beginning… The story begins in the early 1900’s when my grandfather, Giuseppe Giovinazzo, decided to break family tradition and pursue his own dreams. It’s quite ironic that, coming from a fishing village, he never did learn to swim in the ocean. Perhaps that is why he chose not to become a fisherman, like his father before him. Like all great Italians, he was a man of passion and his passion was to make wine. So he ventured north from the Puglia region in Italy to learn about the wine business. His searches took him to Abruzzo, where he learned about Montepulciano grapes, and to Piemonte, where he learned about Nebbiolo grapes, famous for Barolo and Barberesco wines and, of course, Barbera grapes. He did not need to go far to discover the wonderful Primitivo grapes from his own native Puglia region.
After World War One he decided to go to America, the land of opportunity, to pursue his dream. Unfortunately, the United States was in the midst of Prohibition, so he had to put his dreams on hold. He became a grave digger, saved his money, and later moved to Los Angeles. He got married and had children, and with the ever present thoughts of bottling and distributing his own wine, worked in the “wine transportation” business, always saving any extra money he earned. Finally, once Prohibition was repealed, he was able to start Sunland Vintage Company in Los Angeles, California, incorporating in February, 1935. My father would tell stories of how he would take road trips with my grandfather to Northern California to procure the grapes that reminded him most of his own homeland in Italy. And his business grew and prospered.
He became well known in the community and gave back in the form of his active membership in the Sons of Italy charitable organization. And as passionate as he was for his wine business, he was equally passionate about Thouroubred race horses. Unfortunately he could not apply the same magic and success to that passion as he did to his wine company.
Our Logo… However, his passion for horses was passed down to his oldest son, my father. Like his father before him, my father chose not to go into the family business, instead opting to become a teacher and a coach. With that background and an analytical mind, my father became moderately successful and well known for his handicapping skills at the local race tracks in Southern California. Over the years, my siblings and I were able to spend summers at the beach near Del Mar because of those handicapping skills. Going to the track with Dad, and especially when one of his horses was running, was a special treat for me.
So the inspiration for the logo comes from my grandfather’s original premium label, “Sunland”, and the passion for Thouroubred horses that passed from my grandfather to my father and then to me, as I also have been part-owner of four race horses at various times. And we named the youngest “Sunland Vintage”. Thus, we created the silhouette of horses racing neck-to-neck against the background of the setting sun to use as our logo.
Reinventing the wheel… By the time I was born Sunland Vintage Company no longer existed, so I was never given the opportunity to experience my grandfather’s wine business first-hand. I ended up following the newest tradition of our Italian family, which was to not follow your father into the family business. Instead, I used my inherited analytical skills and became an I.T. professional, enjoying my own moderate successes and partnering with my father and others in ownership of race horses. However, at age 55, I turned a page and began a new chapter in my life. And, to my surprise, I discovered that I also had an immense passion for winemaking as did my grandfather. Following my heart, and utilizing my business skills acquired over years of owning my own consulting firm, I started Sunland Vintage Winery in early 2010. Sunland Vintage Winery has been focused on providing high quality Italian varietals in modest numbers. Our inaugural wines were a 2009 Barbera, with grapes grown in Lodi, California, and a 2007 Nebbiolo from Santa Barbara County, reminiscent of those rich Italian Barolos.
My first year in the wine business was about learning all facets, from winemaking to bottling, to creation of labels, to working with the ABC and TTB for licensing. But most of the work and most of the fun was in gaining exposure. I proudly put my name on each bottle of the Barbera and Nebbiolo, we poured at event after event after event, and my learning experiences started to pay off in our second year as we established our signature branding. Giovinazzo wines from Sunland Vintage Winery are Italian varietals grown and bottled in California. We bring a taste of old Italy right in your own back yard.
In our third year we added several more wines to our “Giovinazzo” label and then, upon opening our Tasting Room in Thousand Oaks during our fourth year in business we added a second label, “SVI”. SVI wines from Sunland Vintage Winery are premium non-italian varietals and blends made for the discriminating wine palate. In the first four short years in business we have garnered many awards for our wines topped by a Double-Gold with American Wine Society for our Tre Ragazzi (Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Sangiovese) and Four-Star Gold with Orange County Fair for our 2008 Nebbiolo. Please take a moment to visit our amazing Tasting Room and even more amazing wines.
These wines are a special gift
from the Giovinazzo family. Enjoy!