Fausta Franco Guerrero walks through the gold-tinged grape plants that encircle her family’s home, searching for a straggler cabernet grape. She finds one, tastes it and says, “See, they are so sweet. I have a feeling the wine from this year will be the best yet.”
Fausta and her husband, Roy Guerrero, own Fausta Family Vineyards and have just won a platinum award for their 2011 cabernet sauvignon – the only wine they entered – in the Sommelier Challenge. The international competition had 898 entries from 15 countries and judged sparkling, red and white wines, giving 517 medals from platinum to silver. Fausta was one of 52 contestants to receive the platinum recognition, going up against prestigious wineries such as Gloria Ferrer, Domaine Carneros, Ravenswood Winery, and Moët and Chandon.
But Fausta’s story isn’t about winning an award. Her story is about hard work. Her success lies in the 3,000 grape plants on her 4.52 acres, working her way up from a 500-square-foot house in Schellville and achieving her childhood dream of cultivating her own vineyard.
Fausta’s father came to the United States with her grandfather who was a brassero; he eventually went back to Mexico where he met Fausta’s mother and the two then moved to Sonoma. Fausta, an only child, lived with her parents in a modest house. Her father worked as a grape picker at a Sebastiani Winery vineyard, eventually working his way up to a job at the winery. Her mother cleaned houses and would often take Fausta with her to her jobs.
Fausta says her dream to work hard and have a vineyard first started as a way to make her mother proud, noting how her mother grew up in a small Mexican town and, at the age of 7, left school to support her 11 siblings.