Fred Abruzzini

Interview Date 7/10/1987

Interviewer: I want to get his name spelled right. Is that in one of these books?

Fred Abruzzini: He got married while he was there.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, it’s in the first page there. Of course, I’ve got a lot of stuff on him. See, that’s old Jim Farley.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Now, Jim Farley, see, I made the Congressional Record. He sent me all kinds of stuff that he made —

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — when he was in it, see? You know, he was Attorney General. See, that’s –

Interviewer: Edgar Bergen (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Edgar Bergen.

Interviewer: — Bergen.

Fred Abruzzini: See.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Here’s Clark Gable’s.

Interviewer: Oh, I better look at that.

Fred Abruzzini: Where was that? I see. No, I thought it was on the first page.

Interviewer: Well, we’ll look through these albums here a little bit and then I’ll, I’ll look for that. Okay. Don’t worry about that ‘cause we’ll come back to that then.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, I thought I had it there.

Interviewer: So you think that Reisner was probably there from about 1948 or so to –

Fred Abruzzini: I think the dates, you better look them up first because –

Interviewer: That’s roughly (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: — roughly, yeah.

Interviewer: — half a dozen years there anyway.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay. And he lived at the Rhine House then?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, they stayed –

Interviewer: (Overlapping conversation) there?

Fred Abruzzini: Got a room there.

Interviewer: And sort of bach-, just bachelor quarters.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s all.

Interviewer: Where did he, did he have a kitchen or anything?

Fred Abruzzini: He had been after though. He got married.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Then he moved out.

Interviewer: Okay. And then, then the place was vacant?

Fred Abruzzini: While I was still there.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And then it was vacant for quite a while.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And then before I left, I started in cleaning it all up, fixing the bar –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — for a tasting room for Otto [ph].

Interviewer: Was there –

Fred Abruzzini: To, to move –

Interviewer: — Otto –

Fred Abruzzini: — for Otto, Otto was going to take and run that, see?

Interviewer: Tiny [ph].

Fred Abruzzini: Tiny.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Tiny is Otto.

Interviewer: I know, I know.

Fred Abruzzini: So I was fixing that up for him then to take over. But –

Interviewer: Was the, was the place in pretty good condition?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: Was it?

Fred Abruzzini: But, you know, clean it all up.

Interviewer: Yes. But, I mean, through the years it was kept in pretty fair condition (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes. Kept it right up –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — all the time. And a –

Interviewer: I even had the roof fixed, the slate?

Fred Abruzzini: Uh-huh.

Interviewer: I had this fellow Smith [ph], he was a, a captain on a ship, he was one of my guides. I had all the top guides.

Fred Abruzzini: Uh-huh.

Interviewer: I had guides that had traveled and knew what, what to talk about.

Fred Abruzzini: Uh-huh.

Interviewer: Where did you get your guides? Were they local people?

Fred Abruzzini: People that came to visit.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: See.

Interviewer: And then you would get, hire them and then they would move to St. Helena?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, no, they stayed.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, I tell you. They never left.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: I left Smith over there, too, and I left Nichols [ph].

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Until he died.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See, they never, they never used to quit when I, when I hired them.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See.

Interviewer: But, in other words, you’d have someone who’d come to the winery and he would really like it or something like that.

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: And if you thought that he would make a guide –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, I’d pick them out because, I tell you, I didn’t want nobody that –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — wasn’t good.

Interviewer: Yeah. And then they would –

Fred Abruzzini: I never fired a person in all my life.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: I laid them off, yes. But never fired them.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Nothing hurts worse than firing a man.

Interviewer: Right, sure.

Fred Abruzzini: Hurts you and hurts him.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s right.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Well, the – how did you, did you have tours that would come in bus and things like that?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, buses after buses.

Interviewer: Where would they come from?

Fred Abruzzini: I can show you where I had over 2,000. I talked to Gen Electric convention in San Francisco. This fella here came from back east from General Electric and came with George Mardikian and I showed him the winery. He was going to see George Mardikian’s ranch and this was about three months before the convention in San Francisco he was seeing what, what he could do for the convention. So George Mardikian brings him up to the winery and showed him the winery and he told me, he says he’s going to have about 2,000 people. I says, well, bring them up to the winery. I says, I’ll take care of them. He says, how you going to feed them? Says, by the time the bus comes in, goes back, he says, they’ll have lunch. Well, I says, that’s easy. I says, you got the chef right with you. I says, we’ll get the old chef here to do something.

Interviewer: Mardikian?

Fred Abruzzini: Mardikian, see?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: So we got talking in the room there and pretty soon he says, well, where can we feed them? I says, that’s easy. I’m a director of the fair board. I says, take the fairground. Take one of the big buildings. Let George bring in all the tables. And he says, well, how about the stoves? I says, well, I’ll get Mitchell [ph] to make a bunch of barbecue and, I says, he can barbecue. See? So I had six of them made. I – they left up to me to design the barbecues and I did. I designed them. And we made these barbecues, six of them.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And they were four feet long, see? And they were just about 14 inches wide and you put your screws on there and put all your meats in there –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and all your stuff.

Interviewer: What was the convention? What was the group?

Fred Abruzzini: Shish kabob.

Interviewer: No, the, the group?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, the, the –

Interviewer: General –

Fred Abruzzini: — General Electric group.

Interviewer: — employ- —

Fred Abruzzini: They were from, from Chicago east. All of them were from Chicago east.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Came to California from Chicago west went to New York. And these were all dealers.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Of the General Electric.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And I’ll, I’ll show it to you writing.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Sixty buses. I’m the only one’s got all the book.

Interviewer: Right.

Fred Abruzzini: I told them all I wanted is one thing. I says, now there’ll be only one wine served and that’s Beringer Brothers. I don’t want nothing for what I do or anything. But you serve Beringer. But I’ll get the rest of the wineries to open up so they’ll take them through.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So, fine and dandy, went through with it.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: See. So here’s the –

Interviewer: (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: — and here’s the committee, we’ve reformed, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See, here’s the fellas –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — and the head of – and I – and the head of the union was one of my best friends and that’s him right here, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s him right here. Now, this is a banker. George Mardikian. See, he’s right here. And this was the committee to take care of the whole thing. ‘Cause you can’t do it all alone.

Interviewer: Right.

Fred Abruzzini: See? And you look at that after you’ll see how many people that came in.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. So, so that was just one of the –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s only one of them. Sixty buses.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: We fed over 2,000 people. No trouble at all.

Interviewer: But did you have a regular program of buses coming up? Did you have an agent or somebody down there in the city?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, one right after the other. Airplane, pictures and everything. I’ve got them all there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Coming up.

Interviewer: Okay. Good.

Fred Abruzzini: Then I had – all right, you can –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — look in this book here and you’ll see every other year I’d have the Senate. Every other year I’ve have the Assembly come from Sacramento.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Parties. There’s what they gave me when – the Senate gave me that one time.

Interviewer: Looks like –

Fred Abruzzini: But I got all kinds of things from them.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: See. But I, I mean –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — you just had to.

Interviewer: Yeah, you just had to keep (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Keep things going.

Interviewer: — keep –

Fred Abruzzini: Every Saturday, every Sunday I had a barbecue down there. And that’s why I say, the doctor told me, he said, well, you’d better take it easy or you won’t be here.

Interviewer: What are some of the other characters that – when I say characters, like Max Baer and Reisner and, and those people –

Fred Abruzzini: Uh-huh. Movie stars?

Interviewer: — well, no, I’m talking about people who –

Fred Abruzzini: Business people used to come in. I can tell you about business people, big business people. Like well, City of Paris and the I. Magnin (overlapping conversation) –

Interviewer: No, what I’m talking about here is that you had a lot of celebrities come and go, come and went and that sort of thing. And then you had a few people that seemed to, to be around a lot more and that was the Baers,

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, Cato, Chief Cato, Highway Patrol.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Anytime I wanted him. Anytime that I wanted him he’d be there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He, he’d always come –

Interviewer: I’m talking about well-known names, like, again, Max Baer and, and Carol, I mean, (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Another one was Karl Weber. I had, I had – got him to buy a, a ranch at the Oakville.

Interviewer: Now, who is he?

Fred Abruzzini: Karl Weber owned the Whitcomb Hotel. He was the Council General of Austria.

Interviewer: Oh. Which one was he?

Fred Abruzzini: He’s the one sitting down there.

Interviewer: This one?

Fred Abruzzini: No, no. Up. Right there. The fella sitting down right near the bottom. Right there.

Interviewer: Right here?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: I gotcha.

Fred Abruzzini: Then he’s over there too. See, down –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — on that other picture?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He’s on that side and then my wife –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — his wife and then me over there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: And the other one is the opera singer.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Albanese.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: All right. I had ‘em –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — any time anybody came from Europe, he got most of ‘em –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and he’d bring them to me. I had the mayor of Rome, Italy –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and his wife and I had the mayor of Athens, Greece and I had a general from France. I had a general from Belgium.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I had a lot of generals because George Mardikian used to bring them all.

Interviewer: So, in other words, you were great friends with Mardikian?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah, we’re –

Interviewer: And (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Everybody used to bring them down.

Interviewer: So –

Fred Abruzzini: I mean, if they came to visit them –

Interviewer: Omar Kyam –

Fred Abruzzini: And the Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: St. Claire [ph], why he’d bring in people that came in.

Interviewer: So you think that Mardikian was one of your goodwill ambassadors, too?

Fred Abruzzini: A lot of them.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: The mayor.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Mayor Rossi?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Up there, Mayor Robinson [ph]?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Why they, I tell you, I used to get ‘em. Christopher [ph]?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: I used to deliver hay at Christopher when I was with Cribari at his, his barn there. I had a dairy.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Of course I never used to see him then.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Because his folks used to run it, see?

Interviewer: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But –

Interviewer: Well, well –

Fred Abruzzini: — I, I had –

Interviewer: — what, what do you think of all of the, as you recall, of all of the public relations things you did, what stands out in your mind as the biggest thing you did to further the Beringer name in public relations? Can you remember anything that really stands out?

Fred Abruzzini: Well –

Interviewer: Did a lot of little things but (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: — the biggest thing is publicity.

Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Publicity was the biggest thing. I used to keep all the names. I used to write to them. I used to get about 5,000, sometimes more –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — cards a year.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Christmas cards.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And I had to answer them all.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And I got names, I can show you names of all of them –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — right in there, too.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I got the names yet of all of them.

Interviewer: I was just looking at Clark Gable here.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s only one book.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: I got several of them.

Interviewer: Yeah. I’m in the wrong – that’s Germany, Greece. Oh, I see, these are the countries, foreign countries. Well, what I’m saying, Fred, is that I know that of all these things, public relations was the main thing. But is there one event, one event that stands out in your mind as a, as, as, as really gave you a tremendous amount of publicity, one event – I know we talked about the fabrics [ph]. Would that be the event that you think we gave you about as much as any?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, I think your biggest event is the quality of the wine to start with.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I had the tops. I had old wines. See, when I, the wine that I was selling is wine that I made at Cribari that was, I had some sweet wine, see. Dry wine was a, one of the second things –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — to start with.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: This is at the start.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Dry wine came gradually.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. The, the – it was really a sweet mark- (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: It was a sweet wine market –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — when repeal came.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And, of course, I had the old wines when repeal came.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: We did sell a few dry wines but they didn’t, they started getting them in barrels, they weren’t going in bottles. They were going in barrels and a lot of that wine they used to call sour wine.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And I used to always say sour is vinegar and dry is wine.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: I had to take and teach the public. Oh, that wine’s too sour. No, it’s not sour. It’s dry.

Interviewer: Did you ever make vinegar? Purposely?

Fred Abruzzini: Sure, I made vinegar but I never sold it.

Interviewer: Okay. You never sold it.

Fred Abruzzini: Huh-uh.

Interviewer: Beringer never sold vinegar.

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, no. Never sold vinegar.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: You never want to make vinegar in a winery.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Because the vinegar fly flies from one to the other –

Interviewer: I see. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and they’ll carry.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. They carry the –

Fred Abruzzini: Carry the germ.

Interviewer: The germ.

Fred Abruzzini: The yeast.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: You see it takes sugar to make alcohol. Alcohol makes vinegar.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. That’s interesting.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Never want to make vinegar in a, in a premium winery.

Fred Abruzzini: And you can make vinegar out of grapes. You can make it out of anything that has alcohol.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But you have to make alcohol first.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Apple cider.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And you can take and make vinegar out of that.

Interviewer: What – now, you had many, many successes in, in wine making and marketing. What is a, a, a famous failure. Do you have a – you must have had something ‘cause, that didn’t work. You thought it worked but it didn’t. Most people do. Are you the exception?

Fred Abruzzini: I, I had too much experience to have failures over here.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Because –

Interviewer: But what I’m saying is that –

Fred Abruzzini: — I, I was –

Interviewer: — did you, did you have a product that you wanted to bring out and the market did not, it did not reach your expectations? Let’s put it that way. Something you thought would have done better. Maybe you were too early.

Fred Abruzzini: Well, like I was going for this prunes and wine.

Interviewer: But you never really started that. You thought about it –

Fred Abruzzini: I was going to do it here –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — but it went, it was a failure to start with.

Interviewer: But did you ever get any in the bowl?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Beringer?

Fred Abruzzini: Yes – no, no. This is when I was with Cribari.

Interviewer: Right. And you were planning that for –

Fred Abruzzini: All right.

Interviewer: — Beringer?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes. It was planned here but I made the correction by going down there and when I went down to Hollywood and Young’s Market wasn’t moving, I just ran across one of the publicity men of the RKO, Perry Lieber, —

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and Perry Lieber’s happened to be a good friend of the manager of the Young’s Market.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And he says to, to him, he says, what’s your trouble? We were talking about I had a bottle of the prunes and wine in my hand and he said, what’s the trouble? And, well, he says, it’s not marketing. He says, just kind of got a carload of this and not moving fast enough. So he says, have you thought of taking and getting a little paper cup and put a prune in a paper cup. It’ll juice, let people taste it. No. Well, he says, that might help. Well, that did help. Then it start moving. Well, we moved that carload. Well, it, a short time that carload was gone. But it took about six months before that carload. But we went two inches to ship another one right away, see. We wanted to see how much demand did they get. Well, we shipped another carload about two months after of half apricots and half prunes.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So it was just started picking up and that’s why then we, then I came up here, see. But in the meantime, Cribari start making also tonics.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And called Vic’s Tonic [ph]. The reason they called it Vic, Angela Cribari was married to Vic Kearney’s [ph] sister. And Vic was the younger brother. See. And, of course, his son was on the sonny boy so they put Vic’s Tonic on that tonic. See. And that started in New York.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And, by golly, they were really doing big business. So we were shipping a lot of wine there and we didn’t have to go with prunes and wines.

Interviewer: Well, —

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: — well, now, when you came to Beringer your first thought was to do this.

Fred Abruzzini: To do this?

Interviewer: (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: As, as a sideline –

Interviewer: Yeah. And, and you didn’t and is that because prohibition came and, and, and –

Fred Abruzzini: Stopped it.

Interviewer: — (overlapping conversation) and so you, you immediately went into retail wine sales and forgot about this.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s right.

Interviewer: You never actually tried it. You, you (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: I didn’t try it here. I, I had just made a few –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — a batch –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — just for the family to show them what I could do, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But not to –

Interviewer: Yeah. Well, is there anything in, going on in the wine industry today, in Napa Valley, now, to be specifically in these, in the premium wine business, that surprises you today?

Fred Abruzzini: I’ve always went for premium. I –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — I even told Bob Mandavi, I says, look, you’ll get into the premium wine business and sell it by the bottle.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s where you’re going to make money.

Interviewer: Well, you saw that when you saw the caves.

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes. I’ve told Bob all the way through –

Interviewer: No, but when you saw the caves at Beringer?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. Oh, that’s what I wanted to make.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s right.

Fred Abruzzini: Premium wine (overlapping conversation) –

Interviewer: You knew right then that that was –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes. That was the thing.

Interviewer: Yeah, yes.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s what I went there for. I had Roy Raymond. And Roy Raymond can tell you, you can check with him, to go in every cask and scrape out the wood because it was acid, full of acid.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And cream of tartar.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Every cask. I couldn’t use them for wine.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Did you know what I use for my bottle tanks?

Interviewer: No.

Fred Abruzzini: Two crocks that my father used to cure olives in and I had one tank upstairs that I cleaned up real good. I’d pump the wine from the truck that came in up there, filtered down into those crocks and there’s, there’s where we filled.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Sixty-gallon crocks. Two of them. ‘Cause there wasn’t a tank fit.

Interviewer: Yeah. You’re all – when you came there, the, the –

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, all the –

Interviewer: — Coop Ridge [ph] was pretty well –

Fred Abruzzini: Couldn’t help it.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: All four were, was, was, all that way.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I had to get 10 pounds of lime with a 1,000 gallons of water, see, in each one –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and the real bad ones, I’d go in there and take slack lime and paint the inside of them, see –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and leave it wet, fill it up with water, put 10 pounds of lime in per thousand, stir it up good, leave it two or three days and the water would come black because the lime –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — draws –

Interviewer: Draws the –

Fred Abruzzini: — all the acid out, see? And that wasn’t enough because the cream of tartar on some of them was pretty near three-quarters of an inch.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So then I had to get Roy Raymond and a lot of the scraping. That’s what I used him for. Because he was –

Interviewer: He was (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: — young, young and small. He wasn’t fat, like, —

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — like he is now.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And he done most of them.

Interviewer: Yeah. Well, that cream of tartar, I understand that they sold that for (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: All right. That’s how I saved the distillery. And I can show you, the government was going to take all the stills in California and ship them east to make grain alcohol for the government. And I says, I says, well, we got to save the still some way. I knew Congressman Frank Buck. He was our Congressman at that time from this district. And I said, and I used to buy his grapes, you know, from Williams [indiscernible] of the Muscat’s [ph]? So I told him, I says, gosh, we need those stills here. And I says, how we going to hold them? Well, he says, got to do something.

Interviewer: Now, this was in – now this is at Beringer.

Fred Abruzzini: This happens [indiscernible] Beringer. That’s when I’m there.

Interviewer: And this was about what year?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, it was during the War. About 19 –

Interviewer: What war?

Fred Abruzzini: — 42, I guess.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: About ’42.

Interviewer: So –

Fred Abruzzini: I can show you the letters.

Interviewer: So the Buck, Congressman Buck –

Fred Abruzzini: Frank Buck was our Congressman so I took a picture, I’m standing on, on the barrel and a piece of cream of tartar about that big, about that thick, and I told the ceiling of star to put it in the stars, see? So I could send it to Washington.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And I told him, I says, now, this is used for the war, the cream of tartar is used for war efforts.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: They use it to clean the iron, the guns in the powder and all that stuff and they used it for the war effort. So –

Interviewer: They needed it for credit shoots for England.

Fred Abruzzini: Everything.

Interviewer: Everything, yes.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So I says, they need cream of tartar just the same so that’s how we held the stills. So I sent that picture to Congressman Buck and, of course, anybody, well, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, and that’s how they get things done.

Interviewer: So –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s how I got into Washington, D.C.

Interviewer: So you – so the fact that you were contributing your cream of tartar and you traded off and was able to keep your stills here.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s right.

Interviewer: ‘Cause (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: We kept them all. Not, not only one but we kept them all in California. But then I had to get Wine Institute to kind of represent because one man can’t do it.

Interviewer: That’s right.

Fred Abruzzini: You can’t do it alone.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: You have to get the, the whole thing to go through, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But that cream of tartar is what did it.

Interviewer: Well, now, the reason you had to scrape your barrels and all that is because you, you couldn’t really afford to redo them?

Fred Abruzzini: No, no. The acid go, went through.

Interviewer: Oh. But even – where –

Fred Abruzzini: The tanks were cheap but you didn’t have the money.

Interviewer: Didn’t have the money. So you had to take what you had and, and (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s right. And we cleaned every tank in the winery.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I had to do the same thing at Fauvers [ph]

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See, remember I told you that I made all brandy there? I cleaned that winery.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But I’d done it with lime and water. Now, to take and make brandy – of course, this is a secret and every (laughing), everybody has their own –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: To neutralize in our day, lime was our biggest secret.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See? Soda ash, [indiscernible] wash, but lime is the one that takes the acid.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Well, were you running winery operations at all three wineries?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, sure.

Interviewer: And so, you had to (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes. Yes. I –

Interviewer: — you had them at capacity, literally, then.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, I had a million, 800 thousand gallons of wine when I left Beringer’s.

Interviewer: When you left Beringer.

Fred Abruzzini: A million, 800 thousand.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. What –

Fred Abruzzini: All paid for.

Interviewer: — when you left Beringer were you still running the one here then?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, sure. I had –

Interviewer: Fauver –

Fred Abruzzini: Yes.

Interviewer: Did you (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: No, Otto gave it up.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And then Otto had to move. When he gave that up, all the Cooperage I had there, he moved it down to Esco-, to Sausco [ph] —

Interviewer: Why’d he give it up. Was his –

Fred Abruzzini: Or to –

Interviewer: — property sold?

Fred Abruzzini: No, that, the Aires [ph] took it over.

Interviewer: The Aires took over the Fauver?

Fred Abruzzini: The Fauvers.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And him, the man just died last, last week which is Ben Stilling [ph], his brothers, sisters and Herod [ph]. That was six of them.

Interviewer: Then how long did Otto run the winery then down at (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Well, until he sold it.

Interviewer: Which was?

Fred Abruzzini: He sold that, the Canaris [ph] and the, and the, the St. Helena to –

Interviewer: Nestle.

Fred Abruzzini: — Nestle.

Interviewer: Okay. So they, that was all one operation?

Fred Abruzzini: One operation.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay. One sale?

Fred Abruzzini: But, but they, they had the vineyard there but they pulled the vineyard and I understand they sold, now the vineyard is owned Sebastiani.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: The hundred acres.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But the 32 acres where the winery is, is sold to somebody else.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Well, let’s just, on the piece of tape I’ve got here and then we’ll go through some of your albums and let’s tape look good here, yeah. Now, the years from the end of the War to the time you left, okay, now, you’ve got through the War years, now at the end of the War, ’46, Napa Valley by that time was an awful lot of prunes and walnuts. And –

Fred Abruzzini: Well, they, they started – you know, we had a very, very bad year, 1938.

Interviewer: No, I didn’t know.

Fred Abruzzini: ’38 was a bad year. We had lots of wine, too much grapes, nobody was buying them. So we had to go to prorate. So every winery had to go into this prorate, a percentage of your grapes had to be made into brandy.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And the only distillery, — see, the still that I put up at Beringer’s, I designed it. And I went to Cranes [ph] to build that still, my pattern. And he gave it to me actually cost. What it cost him to make it but he wanted to use my still to make it for others.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So I made a 32-plate, 10 boiling cups on each plate, and you could take it off at any stage for proof.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: The higher you go, the higher the proofs you can go. So my still was one that I could get it up to 190.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Even higher.

Interviewer: Huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See. But all the stills that they had, Christian Brothers had one, the Crop had one, I don’t know, several wineries had stills in at the time that I put mine in, after I put mine in, but none of them were built to go that high.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So the government, you had to get so high for the government, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So I was distilling for, I distilled for Boulieux, the Crop, Christian Brothers, I distilled all for twenty cents a gallon. I made enough money on the distilling to pay for my still, my labor and everything. I was making money.

Interviewer: And the still was at Beringer.

Fred Abruzzini: The still was at Beringer’s.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: Now, but that was my design. 1935 I designed that still and put it in there.

Interviewer: ’38 –

Fred Abruzzini: I designed the filter at that time, called the Oscar Krantz [ph] filter. I designed also a cooler and Frigidaire Corporation was supposed to pay me 10% royalty. I couldn’t patent them because I’m working for Beringer Brothers and the patents would belong to them.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So I couldn’t patent them so all I did, I sold them on royalty to the Oscar Krantz Company, the filter and the pasteurizer, and the cooler was Frigidaire. Frigidaire started out with me. Everything, oh, we’ll take care of it. And everything, no contracts. When it come down to it, when they started in selling quite a few of them, because I was the first one that put a coil inside of a tank without insulation around the tank. A three-horse-power. 1700-gallon tank upstairs in the second floor and a 16. And their engineer told me it wouldn’t work. I says, you put it in there, it’ll work. If it doesn’t work, I’ll pay for it cost. If it works the corporation will pay $900. See?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And if it works, then I want a royalty on every one that you sell. Oh, sure, fine, fine. Everything went fine. Well, when they come to draw the papers to pay me royalty they found that in their by-laws they cannot pay no royalties to anybody because it was a Packard sold Buick for that shape on the hood. Do you remember way back?

Interviewer: Yeah, right.

Fred Abruzzini: All right? Packard sued them and they put in the by-laws from now on, we can’t use no more royalty patents because it almost wrecked –

Interviewer: Right.

Fred Abruzzini: — the, the Buick at that time.

Interviewer: Huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See. So I couldn’t get no royalties. So what they did, they gave me Frigidaire stoves –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — washing machines, dryers. I even had a big air conditioning –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — for the money I get. I can show you all that. See. But if they, if I would have sold them, I mean, if I’d have patented them, it would have belonged to the corporation.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s why we wouldn’t.

Interviewer: Yeah, sure.

Fred Abruzzini: But I was the one that started that.

Interviewer: Well, you, you say in 1938 you had a, it was a very bad year for the grape grower.

Fred Abruzzini: 1938 went to prorate.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And Lou Estrella, John Daniels, Bob Mondavi, myself, we, we had meetings and meetings and meetings. Well, finally they –

Interviewer: Well, where was Bob Mondavi at this time? They didn’t buy Krug yet; is that right?

Fred Abruzzini: No, no. He had the – let’s see. Bob Mondavi wasn’t in Napa in ’38, no. He came, he came after the –

Interviewer: That was in ’43, wasn’t it? When he came?

Fred Abruzzini: ’43, I think.

Interviewer: Yeah, uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: It was – no, it was John Daniels, Salamina [ph]

Interviewer: Beustro [ph].

Fred Abruzzini: Forney [ph], myself. It was just a few of the big wineries.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Lou Estrella.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Lou Estrella was a good talker.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I wasn’t.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: John Daniels, Lou Estrella and Bob were the best.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: In the wine business of talking.

Interviewer: Yeah, uh-huh. What – do you recall in, in all the years you’ve been in Napa Valley and working for Beringer of every, of any year of really having a bad crop failure?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, we had one bad one that hit us May the 20th.

Interviewer: Of what year?

Fred Abruzzini: I can’t remember the exact year but it hit us so bad –

Interviewer: That’s frost you’re talking about now?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, the frost. And it had to be after ’54 –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — because it even hit this vineyard.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See? And they told us that we had to pull out all the frosted limbs off because the grapes were on it and everything and to get the new bud to come out.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Well, we started in but we couldn’t catch up with it because –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — it was too late. Well, anyway, the ones that didn’t do it were better off than the ones that did it.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But the farm adviser and the –

Interviewer: (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: — university told us to take them all off. See? But they were wrong.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: So the best thing is to leave them on.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: See.

Interviewer: Okay, let me ask you another question [indiscernible] went. What – and we’ve got one last question on this tape and we won’t finish it. What does Napa Valley have that no other place in California has as far as (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Well, the starter of publicity.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: More than anything else.

Interviewer: (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: We made good wines?

Interviewer: — in the wine?

Fred Abruzzini: We made good wine in San Benito County.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. [Recording ends abruptly.] [END RECORDING] St. Helena Historical Society Abruzzini Interview 7-10-87 (2) Date of Transcription: 09/02/2017

Interviewer: So, then when Carol Lombard made the movie, where did she stay? Did she stay in the (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: She stayed with the, in Napa at, let’s see, it was Sam – huh – a guy had the store. He’s an attorney.

Interviewer: At a private residence?

Fred Abruzzini: Private – well, it was a – gosh I know him.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He owned Albert’s [ph] store.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Grossman’s [ph].

Interviewer: Oh. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Stayed at Grossman’s. The reason stayed there, you see, Lou Shapiro [ph] is Jewish. Grossman’s Jewish.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And they’re very, very close friends after.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Because they went to church, the same church —

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — and so got Carol Lombard to go and stay over there.

Interviewer: I see. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And she was well treated. And Clark Gable went hunting –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — with several fellas that I know in, in town. And went fishing.

Interviewer: During the time that she was making the movie?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: [Indiscernible].

Fred Abruzzini: See, he used to go fishing.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Well, he was a regular sport.

Interviewer: Yeah. Of course, he, he was just one year, it was just one year after Gone With the Wind so he was a celebrity of unbelievable proportions.

Fred Abruzzini: Well, he made a picture in Chile’.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And he bought a hundred cases of Cabernet in Chile’ and, you know, when he came up here, he asked me, he says, now, what, what wine do you think I should drink? He says, I bought a hundred cases over there, Cabernet. He tasted my Cabernet and it didn’t taste good to him. I says, you know why? I says, you’re just like coffee. I says, now look, if you get used to a coffee and you’ve been drinking it for a month or so and then you taste another one, —

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — you just don’t like it.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So, he says, well, he says, it’s not like the one in Chile’. Chile’’s, oh, that was the best Cabernet.

Interviewer: He just come out and told you though.

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes. He told me. That was the best Cabernet.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So I says, well, I tell you what you do. You try this Zinfandel. This is more mellow than the Cabernet. Cabernet is a little bit more rougher. So he tried the Cab-, the Zinfandel and I gave him a case. I gave it to him. A whole case.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And he took that with him and, sent me some more Zinfandel. Some more Zinfandel. He got used to that Zinfandel and when that Cabernet came from Chile’, this is no fooling, —

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — he told me he couldn’t drink it. He says, I gave it to my barber. He says, that Zinfandel is what I want.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And so [indiscernible] too, was on Zinfandel. You see, Cabernet is heavier. You get used to it, fine. But the Cabernet of Chile’ is light. It’s more like the Zinfandel.

Interviewer: I see.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s why the Zinfandel made the hit with him.

Interviewer: Huh. Okay. Who were some other celebrities that, that you recall –

Fred Abruzzini: Ginger Rogers was another one used to stop in all the time and get her wine.

Interviewer: Is that right.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Wow.

Fred Abruzzini: You know where her place is in –

Interviewer: Oregon.

Fred Abruzzini: — in Oregon.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Got a dairy there.

Interviewer: She grew up there somewhere.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, her mother has a dairy.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And, of course, a lot of, practically all of them.

Interviewer: Yeah. Let’s just go down the list here. There’s –

Fred Abruzzini: Knight.

Interviewer: — Governor Knight.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. And Jim Farley.

Interviewer: Jim Farley.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s the head of the Navy, Secretary of the Navy.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Now, are all of these people here (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: They’ve all been up to the winery and I’ve got letters and –

Interviewer: Do you know who that is?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, Anne Shirley.

Interviewer: Anne Shirley, a movie star?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: And then that’s –

Fred Abruzzini: That, Rudy Vallee.

Interviewer: — Rudy Vallee.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: And, of course, Carol Lombard. Charles Laughton.

Fred Abruzzini: Now, she gave me over a hundred big pictures like that and about 2,000 of the 8 by 10’s.

Interviewer: Carol Lombard did?

Fred Abruzzini: To put in the boxes.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Beautiful.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. And that’s my wife and I.

Interviewer: Wild Bill Elliott?

Fred Abruzzini: Wild Bill Elliott.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: My son and myself there. Now, that picture was taken by Roos-, Eisenhower’s, Eisenhower’s photographer.

Interviewer: That’s a picture of who on the horse?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s Fred Lieber [ph].

Interviewer: Oh.

Fred Abruzzini: Fred Lieber was the Highway Patrol. He’s over in this side here.

Interviewer: And the car, people in the car are – that’s Mimi Eisenhower and Ike.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, that’s Eisenhower and –

Interviewer: And that had, that was –

Fred Abruzzini: (Overlapping conversation) –

Interviewer: — that’s the stock photo. That had nothing to do with the winery, I guess, is that it?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, no. That’s New York.

Interviewer: Okay, New York. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s in New York.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: Then –

Interviewer: Who is – is this –

Fred Abruzzini: She’s made the picture up at the winery.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s –

Fred Abruzzini: I don’t know what her name is now.

Interviewer: [Indiscernible].

Fred Abruzzini: And the other one is Chief Cato, Highway Patrol.

Interviewer: Who is this?

Fred Abruzzini: Albert Dekker.

Interviewer: Albert Dekker? And that’s –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s –

Interviewer: Jan Sherwood [ph]?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: That’s –

Fred Abruzzini: And guy’s –

Interviewer: — Tarzan.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s right. He played Tarzan.

Interviewer: He played Tarzan. Can’t think of his name. Dom Ameche?

Fred Abruzzini: Dom Ameche. My son.

Interviewer: Your son?

Fred Abruzzini: William Winderf [ph].

Interviewer: Uh-huh. And –

Fred Abruzzini: Frankie Laine.

Interviewer: Frankie Laine.

Fred Abruzzini: George Mardikian.

Interviewer: What’s it say here?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s a singer.

Interviewer: Now, who —

Fred Abruzzini: She’s a singer.

Interviewer: Singer?

Fred Abruzzini: And that –

Interviewer: Eleanor Roosevelt?

Fred Abruzzini: That, Eleanor Roosevelt (overlapping conversation) –

Interviewer: Did she come here?

Fred Abruzzini: She didn’t come here. She –

Interviewer: Oh.

Fred Abruzzini: — was at George Mardikian’s and (overlapping conversation) –

Interviewer: That’s George Mardikian there?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And the other is the, he’s a radio –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — commentator.

Interviewer: Now, this Max Baer. We want to talk about him in a minute.

Fred Abruzzini: Max Baer.

Interviewer: But he’s –

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s another radio.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s –

Interviewer: Max Baer.

Fred Abruzzini: — yeah.

Interviewer: And you have Bud and Lou Costello?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, Lou Costello.

Interviewer: Both, they came to the winery?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, sure, they –

Interviewer: And that was –

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s up here, Ben Sharpe, wrestler. See up here?

Interviewer: Yeah. Oh, Ben Sharpe.

Fred Abruzzini: And Mike Sharpe.

Interviewer: Ben and Mark, Mike, brothers. And is that him there?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s him there. That’s his wife, had a baby.

Interviewer: Okay. And I know her name.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s –

Interviewer: Joey Brown?

Fred Abruzzini: Joey Brown. That’s –

Interviewer: Biscalous [ph].

Fred Abruzzini: Biscalous, Sharf Biscalous [ph]

Interviewer: And Rocky Marciano, was he here?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah, he was here. And his father used to come up and stay with me at the winery while he was, you know, he trained at Calistoga.

Interviewer: Oh, that’s right.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s where Rocky was.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. And, and they used –

Fred Abruzzini: And there’s Albert.

Interviewer: — and his father used to do what, now?

Fred Abruzzini: He used to come up and stay with me, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He’s Italian from the same part of the, the country my father came from.

Interviewer: And this is Albert Dekker?

Fred Abruzzini: Dekker.

Interviewer: Now, Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Allen? Or Edgar Bergen and Charlie –

Fred Abruzzini: Bergen.

Interviewer: And this is?

Fred Abruzzini: He’s a wine taster.

Interviewer: Okay. And this fella?

Fred Abruzzini: I don’t know what his name is now.

Interviewer: And, of course, Clark Gable. And then on the horse?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s a little, my friend Flicka?

Interviewer: Oh, my friend Flicka?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, Johnny Washbrook.

Interviewer: Johnny Washbrook. And (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Joe Garza.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s two pictures Joe Garza. Joe Garza has a, he owns a lot of property in Napa.

Interviewer: Oh, is that right?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: And he was a welter weight? Or light weight?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, he was a, I guess a light weight.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And Willie Ritchie there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And Robert Reedy [ph]. You know, he played, I think, in Harvey, too, I think it is.

Interviewer: I see.

Fred Abruzzini: And the other fella, he was on radio all the time.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: You know this one here. He’s a, he’s a boxer.

Interviewer: (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s the fella that –

Interviewer: — right. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: What’s his name now? Well, he had, he held three titles, that fella.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: And here’s Chuck Reisner right here and his wife.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: And this here was his sparring partner of this fella.

Interviewer: I see.

Fred Abruzzini: Jack Dempsey.

Interviewer: We’ve got some others. I’ll come back to Dempsey. Oh, first, where’s Jack Dempsey?

Fred Abruzzini: Jack Dempsey right there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And Jack Dempsey in the –

Interviewer: Okay. Ed Wynn?

Fred Abruzzini: Ed Wynn. And this is Karl Weber up there with, these were all governors of Germany. Karl Weber owned the Whitcomb Hotel?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He used to bring people all the time. One man’s family.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Who is this? Walter –

Fred Abruzzini: He’s a singer.

Interviewer: Singer.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s a singer. These are all operas right there.

Interviewer: All right. Opera stars.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Who is the cowboy here?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s the – Rick Stewart [ph].

Interviewer: Rick Stewart.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s Rick Stewart next there with, with Roy Rogers and, and Dale.

Interviewer: Okay. Now, this picture here wasn’t taken –

Fred Abruzzini: No, not taken here, no.

Interviewer: — not taken here. Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: And that there is Clyde Beatty.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And I’m holding little Beatty. That’s 1954.

Interviewer: ’54. Clyde Beatty Circus here. Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s, that’s my brother-in-law there in the corner. He’s also been in when the –

Interviewer: Right here.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. And this one here’s Tom Neal and Vicky Lane.

Interviewer: Vicky Lane. They –

Fred Abruzzini: This here’s a singer.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Aldo Di Fenzi [ph], piano player. Cardinal Spellman –

Interviewer: Cardinal Spellman.

Fred Abruzzini: I used to have to get letters from him —

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — to, for [indiscernible].

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See. This here is the General Ryan [ph]. He was a general in the Air Corps.

Interviewer: Is this picture here have any relationship to the winery?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s one of the – no, that’s the oldest –

Interviewer: Lawn, lawn mowing.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. Now, General Ryan, my, my brother bought his home in Pebble Beach.

Interviewer: Huh. Your brother did?

Fred Abruzzini: My brother did, yeah. Just before he died. Now, here’s three baseball teams. The Oaks and the Seals and the Shamrocks.

Interviewer: At the, at the winery?

Fred Abruzzini: Left to O’Doul [ph] and Mel Opt [ph] and Ernie Calicut [ph].

Interviewer: Yeah. And George Peppard?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, and this is Ralph Muntz [ph]. I got him in pictures.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And we –

Interviewer: You got him a job, huh?

Fred Abruzzini: I got him a job. He’s still in.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And here’s Carpe [ph]. Baseball players.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: This is Mr. Smith, my guide that I had at the winery.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And here’s the Sharpe brothers right here, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Here’s one of the Sharpe’s. That’s my secretary there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. All right. Who’s on the tractor here?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s Jack, my son.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s Ron, my son.

Interviewer: And is this (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s 1948.

Interviewer: — wife?

Fred Abruzzini: That’s my wife there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s Jack and that’s before he was married in 1948.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s Ron before he got married.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He had a vineyard in, he’s got 70 acres on Cuttings Wharf. Right next to the distillery.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. And he still operates that then?

Fred Abruzzini: No.

Interviewer: Oh.

Fred Abruzzini: He leased that to Heublein [ph].

Interviewer: Oh. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And just went to a big party yester-, last night, he says, at the distillery there.

Interviewer: I see. Good.

Fred Abruzzini: No, he still has that vineyard. But he leased it to Heublein.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Four more years. He gave him a 20-year lease. See, he was a chief appraiser for the county.

Interviewer: I think I heard that.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: And this is little Johnny from (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: No, little Jake Huffbower [ph]. He was a wine steward at the Claremont Hotel.

Interviewer: Oh. But you did know Johnny from Phillip Morris, here?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, sure. I had him there, too.

Interviewer: Well, tell me about the Max, the Baer brothers. How did that all come about. The Max Baer.

Fred Abruzzini: Max Baer? Oh, I’ve known Max –

Interviewer: Well?

Fred Abruzzini: — since ’35.

Interviewer: Really. Now, how did you meet Max?

Fred Abruzzini: I met him when he came to the Vintage Festival because he was related to the Bales [ph], Mrs. Bales was his aunt. And Mrs. Bales married Clark Fauver’s wife’s brother.

Interviewer: Let me get this now. Max Baer’s from Sacramento.

Fred Abruzzini: He’s from – well, he was originally from Livermore.

Interviewer: All right.

Fred Abruzzini: He worked in a butcher shop.

Interviewer: Okay. But then he eventually lived in Sacramento or (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s right.

Interviewer: Okay. Now, you’re talking about Bales from Bale Mill and all that family (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: No, no. That’s another Bale. Not the Bale –

Interviewer: Okay. This is —

Fred Abruzzini: — Bale –

Interviewer: — with an S on the end?

Fred Abruzzini: Mrs. Bales, they came in the covered wagon, too, you know, the Bales.

Interviewer: No.

Fred Abruzzini: They came in the covered wagon and –

Interviewer: Where did they live?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, he lived at the end of Orchard Avenue right here. He had a nursery.

Interviewer: Okay. That was Mr. Bales.

Fred Abruzzini: Mr. Bales was married to Max Baer’s mother’s sister.

Interviewer: All right.

Fred Abruzzini: And Bales was a brother to Mrs. Fauver.

Interviewer: I see.

Fred Abruzzini: Mr. Bales.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: So you see it’s a –

Interviewer: It’s a big, it was all connected that way.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s right. So McGuinness [ph] married into the Hoffman [ph] family.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And the Hoffman’s were related to the Bales.

Interviewer: So, in other words, Max Baer had relatives in this area.

Fred Abruzzini: Had relatives in this area.

Interviewer: And so he came to the winery and/or how did you happen to meet?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, I met him at the Vintage, Vintage Festival at that time –

Interviewer: In St. Helena.

Fred Abruzzini: — in St. Helena.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: 19, I think the first Vintage Festival was ’34 –

Interviewer: ’34.

Fred Abruzzini: — or ’35.

Interviewer: ’34.

Fred Abruzzini: ’34.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He came with a car there with, all loaded up with girls.

Interviewer: Is that right?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: In 19 —

Fred Abruzzini: And that’s before he was married, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh. 1934. By that time he’d already won a championship, hadn’t he or –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah, uh-huh. And so you met him then and just –

Fred Abruzzini: Well, from there on, why, we were friends all the time.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. He’d come up to the winery?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. And –

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, he used to come up all the time. I got – well, he used to come up and, and advertise at the, what is that place in San Francisco where he was broadcasting from? Cliff House.

Interviewer: The Cliff House. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, he broadcast. He says, now, afterward he’d get through, he says, now I’m going to Beringer Winery and see Fred Abruzzini. See.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So he’d be my host for practically –

Interviewer: Well, why would he – now, did you put him up there at Beringer’s? Did he – he almost lived there at times, didn’t he?

Fred Abruzzini: No, he never lived there, no.

Interviewer: Where did he stay? He stayed with relatives or –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, no. He went to Sacramento.

Interviewer: He just came over for dinner and went off –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, sure.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He had nothing else to do. Just every Sunday he’d broadcast on the radio and that’s all he did.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And he traveled.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. And so he’d show up every once in a while?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah. Come pretty often.

Interviewer: Because the rumor was that he was something like the mascot around here for a while. He (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: — around so much.

Fred Abruzzini: I had him all, all the time.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: We’d go and eat at the Valley. I’d take him always to lunch.

Interviewer: The Valley Coffee Shop?

Fred Abruzzini: The Coffee Shop. Valley Coffee Shop because, see, I owned that building.

Interviewer: Oh, you did.

Fred Abruzzini: I owned the whole corner, see?

Interviewer: Sure. Yeah. I knew you owned that.

Fred Abruzzini: See, now Jack owns it –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — my son owns it now. Well, anyway, I’d take him in there and we’d get lunch and when he’d come out, he’d always give the kids a dollar apiece.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: If he’d meet any kid on the street he’d give them a dollar.

Interviewer: Give them a dollar.

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah. He was a great sport.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Clark Gable was the same way.

Interviewer: Is that right?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: He would –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, if he met a kid on the street and look at him, he’d give him a dollar.

Interviewer: Yeah. I gotcha.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Huh. So –

Fred Abruzzini: And, you know, they want signatures. Don’t forget.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: They, they like that. But a lot of people don’t realize it.

Interviewer: The, the movie stars do?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: They like to give their autographs out?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah, oh, sure. That’s their advertising.

Interviewer: That’s right. Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: Sure. They want (overlapping conversation) –

Interviewer: So Clark Gable would autograph something that somebody –

Fred Abruzzini: If – they liked to have, be recognized. They liked to be recognized.

Interviewer: They do?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: But when they come to a little town like St. Helena, he didn’t want to be recognized so he’d dress up in his old clothes and –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — so they wouldn’t know him, see?

Interviewer: Yeah. He wanted his privacy there.

Fred Abruzzini: He wanted privacy.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But a lot of them, when they’re dressed up, they want to be recognized.

Interviewer: But, now, did – you didn’t, in a way you didn’t, you had a thing going with Max Baer that he was, every time he’d sign off on the radio, he’d say, well, I’m going to go up to the –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah. Good.

Interviewer: And so you were getting the –

Fred Abruzzini: I’ve got even a record as I’m going down to the wedding now.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: So I used to have weddings over there, too.

Interviewer: At Beringer’s?

Fred Abruzzini: At Beringer’s.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: You know, the Freemark Abbey? What’s his name. Ahern [ph]? Michael Ahern, when he got married, he married a girl from Hollister that her father was my foreman.

Interviewer: Right. Well, when did you start having weddings there?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, I had –

Interviewer: What year?

Fred Abruzzini: The first wedding was my son’s.

Interviewer: In 19 –

Fred Abruzzini: When he got married. It’s been about, gosh, pretty near 30, 30 years ago.

Interviewer: 1955 or ’50 –

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: — about the time you left?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, no. Way before.

Interviewer: Well, then you – it’d be more than that then.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: Like, in the ‘40’s sometime.

Fred Abruzzini: In the ‘40’s.

Interviewer: Yeah. That’s when you started having weddings there?

Fred Abruzzini: And my son can, they took all the weddings pictures on the stairs in the Rhine House.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And Ahern and they had the Frank Peretti’s [ph].

Interviewer: Now, do these happen to be close friends of the winery or could someone say, I’d like to rent the premises today for lunch –

Fred Abruzzini: No, charge, I wouldn’t charge nothing, no.

Interviewer: No charge for women?

Fred Abruzzini: You –

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: — get more for nothing than you do when you charge.

Interviewer: That’s right.

Fred Abruzzini: I’ll tell you, I’ve done more with, you know, when I gave something away it was always wine.

Interviewer: Yeah, uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: You know, my best salesman was the Bank of America, believe it or not.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Fred Abruzzini: I got thousands of cases of wine sold through them.

Interviewer: Huh.

Fred Abruzzini: At Christmas.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Because you were their client?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, sure, I was their client and –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — I knew the fellas that could do it, see. I, I had the Greyhound. One time Bobo was from Livermore and I knew him, he was a driver. Then he became one of the big shots at Grey Line, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And Nichols [ph], I know him. So he, Nichols is the first guy that started the Grey Lines out of San Jose, the Greyhound.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And so I told Nichols, I said, what do you give the drivers for Christmas? Turkey. I says, give them a case of wine. If you don’t want to give them a whole case, two bottles, three bottles, four bottles. So he got all four bottles –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — that year. They came with a bus and we loaded a whole busload.

Interviewer: Huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I started the, the package business.

Interviewer: Of the –

Fred Abruzzini: Of gifts.

Interviewer: Of gifts, yeah. (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah, I started that.

Interviewer: With Beringer?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: How many pack? A three-pack?

Fred Abruzzini: I started out with a one-pack, two-pack, three-pack and four-packs.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I started that.

Interviewer: Is that right. You also started, didn’t you, some kind of color coordination. (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, sure. Cloth.

Interviewer: Yeah. What was that?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, live [indiscernible], lab techs fabric.

Interviewer: Yeah. What was that all about?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, there was the colors of, wine colors and grape colors for the cloth.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I got a whole book here that the lab techs sent me.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And I was the one that started them. See, I started the stripping of cork trees and –

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s –

Fred Abruzzini: That’s the bottom one here. Now, everything that I, I tell you, I’ve got ‘em.

Interviewer: You kept a record?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yes.

Interviewer: Fabric.

Fred Abruzzini: Vineyard Hues.

Interviewer: This was to, was to call these different –

Fred Abruzzini: Cloths.

Interviewer: — cloths wine colors?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, Zinfandel or –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I’ll take and show you here the – here’s your cloth.

Interviewer: Riesling Leaf, Silvana Leaf Green. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Puncheon [ph]. Okay. Doubloon.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. We had to get into some New York grape colors –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — because I – here’s your Cabernet, see? Now, here’s Vineyard [indiscernible]. Now, here’s – Mattel Carpe’s [ph] in there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s Chuck Carpe’s [ph] sister, you know, and here’s Helberg [ph]. Here’s Mattel Carpe right here. And Dorothy Eisen [ph] is here.

Interviewer: Huh.

Fred Abruzzini: High school girls.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Now, this, this thing’s here, I tell you, they went all over. See there?

Interviewer: Uh-huh. It started right there with –

Fred Abruzzini: We got more publicity out of that, I tell you, you couldn’t buy it.

Interviewer: Is that right.

Fred Abruzzini: You couldn’t buy it.

Interviewer: But, but was Beringer named on here anywhere?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, sure. A lot of stuff is Beringer’s.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See, here’s the letter?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I worked with Stag Pool [ph]. They wanted me to go to New York and I says, no, I can’t. I, I just, no time to –

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Vineyard Hues they call that.

Fred Abruzzini: Yup. Vineyard Hues.

Interviewer: Out of New York. You consider that one of the, one of the be-, more important promotions that you worked on?

Fred Abruzzini: And then, then I’d send wine, you know, empty bottles with Beringer labels to put with a cloth –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — in the windows, see?

Interviewer: Oh, I see. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: That’s where Beringer came in.

Interviewer: So you got national coverage that way?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, sure, got national coverage.

Interviewer: What years were those, what do you think?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, I started before the War and then right after the War is when we completed it.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: But the letters are all dated.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. So it – yeah, it –

Fred Abruzzini: The letters are all dated there. See, I can’t remember everything now but –

Interviewer: Okay, August of 1946.

Fred Abruzzini: See. Right after the War.

Interviewer: 1946.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: So, now, Max and – back to the Baers – Max and then you had his brother, Buddy Baer.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, Buddy Baer, he, he’s the one that got Louis, you remember?

Interviewer: Uh –

Fred Abruzzini: Buddy, Buddy Baer.

Interviewer: Jimmy [indiscernible] Joe Louis, you mean?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah, he was the one that knocked out Louis.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Now, did he come up here quite often, too?

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, yeah. Buddy Baer. But not as much as Max.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I think this here’s one.

Interviewer: These are great scrapbooks. Twentieth anniversary –

Fred Abruzzini: Here’s Max Baer.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Max Baer. Oh, he wanted me to go on that trip with him. I couldn’t. See, I, I couldn’t get away at all. I –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — it was a one-man deal all, all the way through while I was running it.

Interviewer: Sure. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: See that’s – here’s my little lamb.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Here’s United Airlines, see?

Interviewer: 1949. That’s you supplied United Airlines with a four-ounce bottles of wine. What kind of wine was that?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, it was sweet wines only.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He wouldn’t put no – here’s United airlines again, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: Here’s – see – Jack Dempsey.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He used to write to me all the time. Here’s Tunney. Sent his secretary down.

Interviewer: Jack, this is from Jack Dempsey?

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah.

Interviewer: And then you have a letter here from Gene Tunney, also.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. I think this is Bobo Olson right here.

Interviewer: Bobo Olson, uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He had a gold Cadillac.

Interviewer: Oh, did he?

Fred Abruzzini: I rode in it. (Laughing).

Interviewer: (Laughing).

Fred Abruzzini: Now, here’s –

Interviewer: Rocky Marciano?

Fred Abruzzini: Here’s Jack Volpe. Rocky Marciano. And, let’s see.

Interviewer: That’s [indiscernible]. Well, there’s so much there I’m going to (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Boy, I tell ‘ya –

Interviewer: — reserve that for a minute.

Fred Abruzzini: That there’s a lot of stuff.

Interviewer: Let’s go back to some wine history. Well, let’s talk about some of the buildings. We talked about the Rhine House and the fact that it was sold and then Dr. Booth [ph] lived in there and then for some time it was vacant and then for a while you had this Mr. –

Fred Abruzzini: Smith.

Interviewer: — Smith.

Fred Abruzzini: Yeah. He had it first.

Interviewer: As, as a restaurant?

Fred Abruzzini: As a restaurant.

Interviewer: About 1946 to ’47?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, I’d have to go into (overlapping conversation) –

Interviewer: In that, in that area?

Fred Abruzzini: In that area. To get to dates –

Interviewer: (Overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: — I’d have to get it off the letters.

Interviewer: Right. Then you had this, the songwriter, Mr. –

Fred Abruzzini: Charles Cut – I mean, Chuck Reisner.

Interviewer: And that’s R-E –

Fred Abruzzini: Well, we can get you the –

Interviewer: R-E-I-S-N-E-R, isn’t it?

Fred Abruzzini: I, I think something like that.

Interviewer: Okay.

Fred Abruzzini: Chuck Reisner.

Interviewer: Okay. And he wrote songs for –

Fred Abruzzini: Well, he’s the one that wrote the song Good-bye Broadway, Hello France.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Many other songs and he was also a writer as well as a director, movie director. He was also in the movies. He was also a boxer.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Very, very close friend of Jack, Max Baer and Jack Dempsey.

Interviewer: I see. Well, now, did he come up here just as a retreat to do some writing and things like that?

Fred Abruzzini: He came up with Max Baer one time because he had heart trouble.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And he couldn’t do any more movie work. No more writing. They told him to stop writing and take a vacation.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So Max Baer brought him up here. His sister was in Oakland and she was with Montgomery and Ward. She was a head accountant or something at Montgomery Wards. So he was staying up there once in a while. And his wife had left him when he went to France, to Italy to make a picture, why, his wife left him.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And so he came up and stayed with his sister. Max Baer went and picked him up, brought him up to the winery and we got talking there and he says, this is just what I’d like. Just something to walk around. See? So I says, fine and dandy. I’ll give you a job. And he says, I don’t want nothing. Well, I said, I got to put you on the payroll. I says, I can’t have you here for nothing. I says, you might fall down or something. So, he says, well, whatever you want to do. So, I — $50 a month. I says, okay. So I used to take him to lunch all the time, every day and –

Interviewer: What did he do for the winery? Anything?

Fred Abruzzini: Huh?

Interviewer: Did he do anything for the –

Fred Abruzzini: No. What he did for the winery, he put a room like this, put all his pictures on ‘cause he had a lot of pictures himself, see?

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Of things what he had done. And he would take the visitors and hold ‘em until the guide could take ‘em through because, you know, there’s a lot of guides. He was my –

Interviewer: So where was the room? In the Rhine House?

Fred Abruzzini: In the Rhine House.

Interviewer: Did, was it furnished and everything and –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, no. No furniture. Just his –

Interviewer: Yeah, he –

Fred Abruzzini: — bed is all. Just one room.

Interviewer: Yeah. So you had a room in the Rhine House –

Fred Abruzzini: In the Rhine House for him.

Interviewer: — (overlapping conversation) entertain them for a while.

Fred Abruzzini: Just until they, at that time, just for a little while.

Interviewer: He wouldn’t give them a tasting of wine or (overlapping conversation) –

Fred Abruzzini: Oh, no, not in there, no.

Interviewer: All right. And then they would go and –

Fred Abruzzini: Go –

Interviewer: — take the tour.

Fred Abruzzini: — through the winery.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: My tasting used to be outside we had, you know where the barbecue is now?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: It has a little room, that little shed? That little shed used to be the pump house, where they, there’s a well down in there.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I fixed that thing so you could open it up and I have a kind of a bar.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: Now, there’s where we done our tastings if we had to do any tasting. But somebody wanted to have a lunch, barbecue themselves. They’d come any time.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And I’d give them a bottle of wine.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I’d give it to them.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Fred Abruzzini: See?

Interviewer: Have lunch there, uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And the wine that I used to give, see, wasn’t the winery wine. Every holiday, like, well, say twice a year, I’d give 50 cases of wine to each one of the stockholders including myself. I’d get 50.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: I didn’t drink. I didn’t even, I didn’t even take them home. I’d take them and put them in, into a, a room over there and I’d take and give that away.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And Bertha Beringer and Martha Beringer gave me a lot of theirs. Charlie Beringer gave me some of those. So we gave tax paid wine –

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: — but not [indiscernible] wine. See?

Interviewer: I see. Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: For advertising.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: So that’s how we worked that.

Interviewer: So, so how long did Reisner stay there then?

Fred Abruzzini: Well, Reisner, I left him there. He was with Otto for quite a while.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: And then Otto let him go.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Fred Abruzzini: He said, came to me one time, he (recording ended abruptly). [END RECORDING]