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.
Today, Fausta and Roy live with their three children in the home they designed. Fausta’s mom lives on the property in a smaller home and helps Fausta take care of her children. “I feel so thankful that I was able to build that house for my mom. She worked so hard her whole life to take care of people, and now she can relax and let other people take care of her,” Fausta said.
Fausta jokes that a man once told her he’d like to name a racehorse after her because “Fausta” means lucky. “Of course, I went home and looked it up and my name does mean lucky. For me, though, I feel more blessed than lucky.”
For Roy, his wife’s success in life doesn’t seem to be guided by luck. “She works hard, she barely sleeps,” he said, noting determination is one of the things he admires most about Fausta. “Her secret is that she is always going and going,” he said.
Fausta Family Vineyards currently produces three wines, the 2011 cabernet sauvignon, a 2011 reserve cabernet sauvignon and a 2012 viognier. Fausta says she is looking into making a rose. She sells her viognier at girl and the fig in Sonoma, her 2011 cabernet sauvignon at the Glenn Ellen Inn and, most recently, her cabernet sauvignon and viognier at Meritage Martini and Oyster Bar.