04 April 2014

Italian Swiss Colony Wines and g-grandpa Paulo Molfino (1859-1924)

Remember the jingle?

Decades before Americans were enjoying fine wines, they would enjoy wine as a daily beverage, and by far the largest seller was the wine produced by Italian Swiss Colony in its iconic straw-wrapped jug. "Italian Swiss Colony," was founded in 1881 by Andrea Sbarboro, who formed an entire community in California, with other Italian and Swiss immigrants.  When newcomers from Italy first arrived it was hard for them to find work and get set up independently.  Sbarboro's operation greased the skids to assimilation for the immigrants.

In the 1960's, the Italian Swiss Colony was the second largest tourist attraction in California, next to Disneyland.  It was a favorite place of my mother's and I remember her taking me at least twice.  I never understood what she found in it to like so much.  The only thing as a child I had to look forward to was the train ride.

Why is all this relevant to our family history?  Take a look (click to enlarge) --

-- This picture of the Italian Swiss Family Colony family was taken July 23, 1907 (click to enlarge).  Bottom picture, seated, second row, second from the left, is my wife's great-grandfather Paulo Molfino (1859-1924).

Lots more to learn here.  Is the bottom pic the same date as the top?  If not, are there relatives in the top picture?  Are there more relatives in bottom pic?

In the meantime it would be cool to get an antique straw-wrapped Italian Swiss Colony jug for my wife, empty of full it doesn't matter.  Vintage enough, maybe her ancestors touched it.

Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker

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