"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
- Lao Tzu, 6th Century B.C. Chinese philosopher

           Antonio Perelli-Minetti took that first step in 1902 when , at the age of 20, he left in native Italy to join California's fledgling wine industry. By chance, Antonio's father had an acquaintance in America who needed a reliable, young apprentice. That person was C.P. Rossi, president of the Italian Swiss Colony at Asti. Filled with youthful wanderlust, Antonio departed for the new world, little realizing that his first step would one day make in one of California's most prominent winemakers.

           Antonio's first months in America were typical for an immigrant of that time period. In spite of his degree from Italy's Royal Institute of Viticulture and Enology, Antonio was plunged into a life of hard labor. Assigned to scrub wine barrels, his days began at 6 in the morning and lasted long into the night. But the lad was able to immerse himself in the many facets he would later need to know to make superior wines and run a successful winery.

           A person of lesser stamina and determination might have returned home or simply ran away, but Antonio thrived on the pressures and demands of his new life. By 1907, his hard work and thrift paid its first dividend when he bought his first California venture, the Schmidt vineyard and winery in Healdsburg. A year later, the winemaking operation was absorbed into the Anglo-Californian Wine Company, a wine-selling partnership that included Antonio and his brother. The adversities the Perelli-Minetti brothers faced in those early years would teach Antonio valuable lessons he would remember throughout his life.

           The wine-selling partnership went bankrupt in 1910, but with customary aplomb, Antonio transformed misfortune into opportunity. He had long dreamed of growing grapes and building a winery in Mexico. Within seven years, Antonio had developed the largest vineyard in Mexico with over 800 acres under cultivation. It was an exciting period in Mexican history with rebel leaders Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa storming the countryside. But, when the turmoil showed no sign of ceasing by 1917, Antonio decided to return to California.

           Antonio rejoined the California wine industry as winemaster of the Pagani Winery in Sonoma's Glen Ellen. His strong entrepreneurial drive soon resurfaced. In 1920, he became involved in the California Grape Products Company with Domenico and Mario Tribuno, the latter a partner in the earlier Healdsburg venture. Heir product was concentrated grape juice, a ideal base for home winemaking during Prohibition.

           In the late 1920's, Antonio joined a group which founded Fruit Industries, Ltd., which in turn absorbed the California Wine Association. In 1936 Antonio capped his career when he founded the winery that carried his own name, the Perelli-Minetti Winery in Delano. The winery grew and prospered over the years, and by the late 1960's, the Perelli-Minetti family began to buy up outstanding shares of the California Wine Association. Their transaction was completed in the early 1970's, giving the winery exclusive rights to more than 200 brands of wines and brandies.

           Antonio Perelli-Minetti died in 1976 at the age of 96. His youthful vigor, enthusiasm and knowledge characterized the man until his final days. In every sense of the word, Antonio was a true pioneer of California winemaking. He took great interest in aiding and encouraging small wineries during their early years. Antonio also loved to experiment. He eagerly traveled to Europe to collect cuttings from the grape vines there because he believed they would thrive in the rich San Joaquin Valley soil and bring superior new wines.

           When he left in native Italy for America, Antonio Perelli-Minetti could scarcly have foreseen the day when he would preside over the second largest privately owned winery in California. His supreme winemaking talent, intense dedication and love of wine and people have created a legacy that will live on for as long as people everywhere continue to savor the vintages that bear this great pioneer's name.