Gerry Iuliano had a dream, to start a family-run, Italian winery & distillery in Vacaville, CA. With the help of his father, Donato, his mother, Michelina, and his sister, Marianna, and his partner, David Lewis, the dream was realized.
But on the evening of Tuesday, August 18th, the LNU Lightning Complex Fire burned down the vineyard, the winery, the distillery lab, all of the vineyard, winery & distillery equipment, and all of the inventory. The vineyard burned down two weeks before harvest.
Vita, the one-eyed rescue kitty went with the family when they were evacuated.
Mary statue outside of the "Cantinetta", aka the winery & tasting room.
My name is Lisa Murray and I have been friends with Gerry since we were teenagers in Scottsdale, Arizona. I am helping him raise money to replant his vineyard and purchase the equipment needed to start again because his insurance will not cover these things. The community loves this family so much, they've all been asking what they can do to help.
Whatever he doesn't need will be donated to other farmers in Pleasants Valley. (Scroll down for link to other farmer's GoFundMe pages.)
I have been with Gerry on this journey from the very beginning and I have been documenting the journey through the lens of my cameras since they broke ground in 2001. It breaks my heart to see how a fast-moving fire can take away 19 years of his family's hard work and sacrifice in a matter of hours.
Donato Iuliano in the vineyard, 2014 harvest.
The winery, distillery and the vineyard - which includes all of the equipment to harvest grapes and the holding tanks and all of his inventory of bottles, etc., as well as the fencing to keep deer out and the irrigation lines, all burned and none of it is covered by his insurance. If he is to make wine & distilled spirits again, he will need help from the community or a miracle.
Costs to rebuild: Gerry literally lost every single piece of equipment and most grapevines. We were told by a friend in Napa to wait and see if the vines come back next year after a hard prune so we won't know the full cost of the vineyard for a while but he does need to redo the vine wires, irrigation and fencing in the meantime.
Gerry Iuliano planting the first Sangiovese vine in the vineyard.
The vineyard rebuilding/replanting costs include vineyard irrigation, wires, end posts, fencing, water lines, and later, actual replacement vines.
The winery costs include the crusher, the de-stemmer, tanks, forklift, picking bins, stainless steel holding tanks, barrels, sinks, bottles/corks, and the tasting room. By law, you have to have your wine stored in a certain type of building, a certain distance from the home, and all of those out-buildings burned. Gerry can build these buildings at cost, but he still needs help purchasing the building supplies.
The distillery includes lab equipment for the distillery, barrels to hold grappa, and bottles.
We will donate any unused portion to other farms in the area.
Donato Iuliano pruning the vines.
This family is the hardest working family I know and for those who are lucky enough to know them, they would tell you the same. They will make sure that every penny donated will be stretched to the fullest to replant and rebuild.
If you would like to volunteer to help with the clean up and replanting/rebuilding, send us a message on our website LaBorgataWinery website and include your phone number and we'll contact you.
Thank you so much for helping Gerry rebuild La Borgata Winery & Distillery.
**UPDATE REGARDING OTHER FARMS IN THE AREA**
Gerry's family and I are some of the founding members of the Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association (PVAA) in Vacaville. We love our community of fellow farmers are we are devastated by the magnitude of loss to families, farms, homes and animals due to this horrific fire. I (Lisa) run the website and social media for PVAA and I have been collecting information from the farmers in Vacaville - what they lost, what still stands, and what they need. I've also been gathering info from helpers & resources from the community. (This community is amazing.) If you would like to donate to the other farms in our area, instead of or in addition to La Borgata, please visit the PVAA website: VacavilleFarmers . The website is being updated as new information comes in from farms and from the community. I know in my heart that Vacaville and all of the beautiful people, farms, animals and countryside will rise from the ashes a stronger & more resilient community.
Light & Love,
Gerry on CNN
The vineyard burned down.
The firefighters showed up to help put out the Cantinetta fire on Wednesday morning.
The beautiful hills are black.
- Kristen E Loomis
- Sannie Osborn
- Ruth Reyes
- Cathy Nemtsov
Organizer and beneficiary
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