Wine icon Foppiano 'built the business by the seat of his pants'
Published: Friday, March 30, 2012 at 3:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 30, 2012 at 3:56 p.m.
Bells chimed, glass doors slowly swung open, and a hush fell at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Healdsburg as grandsons, relatives and friends of Louis J. Foppiano carried his casket, strewn with bold red flowers, through misty rain and into the church.
About 250 people gathered to pay respects to one of the icons of the wine industry, who led the longest continuously operating family winery in Sonoma County for about 80 years. He died last week of complications from pneumonia at age 101.
Rev. Walt Rogina, Jr., speaking from the pulpit, described a feast atop a mountain that he believed would welcome Foppiano to heaven.
“On that mountain will be a banquet,” Rogina said. “The choice of food, the best there is; and the choice of wine, the best there is. The wine will be from Sonoma County, of course.”
The crowd chuckled at Rogina's predictions. “Oh, some of you are from Napa County,” he added. “There will be wine from both.”
Foppiano's surviving son, Louis M. Foppiano, delivered the eulogy, describing his father's early life, which was marked by the difficulty of losing his father at a young age.
“He built the business by the seat of his pants,” Louis M. Foppiano said. “His father passed away when he was 13, and it fell on him to be the man of the family.
He also had really good times, with fast cars and fancy clothes. And he found a pretty girl in Santa Rosa.” That was the late Della Bastoni, whom he married in 1946.
On warm summer nights Foppiano would take his sons on walks to the Russian River, and they also took rabbit hunting trips on the family's sheep ranch in Yorkville, a destination Foppiano frequented until the final years of his life, his son said.
“He would just drive around and watch the trees, and he was really in his element up there,” Louis M. Foppiano said.
Rogina described Foppiano as a “man who started life as a farmer, and a man who loved the soil, and a man who found God in the soil and his grapes.”
You can reach Staff Writer Cathy Bussewitz at 521-5276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.