Family History

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The Guerriero Family has been a California packer and shipper of premium quality table and juice grapes for over 6o years. As a result, we are proud to say that many of our Distributors are second and third generation buyers. My father either sold to their grandfather or their father. Now, I enjoy carrying on this tradition selling to their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

Many of our distributors’ customers throughout the United States and Canada look for the “baby who is crying” which is our Cry Baby Label. It is our most requested label. With the excellent quality of the grapes picked, packed and shipped by us, these same customers have made some of the finest home-made wines!

We have extensive experience growing and harvesting juice grapes. Over the years we have developed long-term relationships with many respected farmers throughout California. We are with them from pruning, shoot thinning all the way to the harvest. These relationships of us working together all year guarantee our customers superior quality juice grapes.

Our Family’s history with fresh produce in America started in the early 1900’s when my grandfather, Agostino, arrived from Italy settling in “The Big Apple.” Before long, he had purchased a truck and started peddling fresh produce in the Bronx. When my father, Tony, felt he was old enough, he quit school and went into business for himself. To say he was a “go getter” would be putting it mildly. Starting as a peddler, he soon became a wholesaler. He managed to borrow some money and purchased a big truck – twice as big as his father’s truck and would go to the Bronx Terminal Market purchase as many fruits and vegetables that the truck would hold and would drive all the way to Albany, New York two or three times a week and delivered to many “mom and pop” stores.

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In those days it was important to have ‘the family’s blessing’ when you ventured forth on your own. My dad had to agree to drive to his parents’ home every time before he left for Albany. Then Grandpa could pick and choose the very best of what dad had purchased to put on his truck to deliver to his cliental. They had come to expect only the very best produce from him. And it never changed. If grandpa didn’t like the quality of the produce on a particular day, he just wouldn’t work that day. I believe that is when the tradition of quality began in our family; a tradition my Dad passed on to me and now my son, Tony, and I continue to this day in carefully selecting our juice grapes for our customers. Once Dad married my mother and they began their family, he knew his days of going back and forth to Albany were going to have to come to an end.

It was then my Dad started as a wholesaler of juice grapes that were packed and shipped from California. However, buying grapes was much different then and frankly more of a gamble. Dad would have to go to ‘auction’ and bid against more experienced buyers to purchase freight cars of wine grapes, some of which turned out to be not of the premium quality that he expected for his customers. Because of this unpredictable and often expensive way of doing business, Dad decided in the early 50’s to come to California to pack and ship juice grapes for himself. He could carefully select the best grapes for shipping and selling to his already-established customer base. It was the following year that the Cry Baby was born; who is none other than me 60 years younger, and the Cry Baby label was created.

…the Cry Baby was born; who is none other than me 60 years younger, and the Cry Baby label was created.

Once again, Dad was traveling. This time it was miles and miles away going and coming two or three times a year from New York to California and back. Again, his traveling and being away from his wife and four children was difficult for my mother. Then, in the 50’s, we would all come to California for the summer months. We drove from New York to California, in a car that had no air conditioning. Not many cars had air conditioners back then. Going through the Mojave Desert when it was 110 degrees wasn’t part of the trip to which we kids looked forward.

Finally, my father moved his wife and four children to California. Soon, he began growing his own grapes as well as packing and shipping them across the United State and Canada. The Guerriero family had established their permanent base of operation, which would eventually include their own packing facility and cold storage.

One year, there was such an abundance of Thompson seedless table grapes in the Valley, that the demand for grapes, including my dad’s, dropped dramatically. So my dad decided to pack, what he could not sell, in 42# boxes and ship them East. Everyone thought he was crazy and didn’t know what he was doing…packing Thompsons for juice? After he packed his last box of juice grapes, he then jumped on a plane, and flew to New York. There, he went to every one of his distributors encouraging them to promote using these Thompsons as a mix with other varieties of wines they were making. Those that did were impressed with the results! When the following year came, the demand for Thompson juice grapes was unbelievable! Packers and shippers were scrambling to fill the demand from their customers. The rest is history.

An important part of our commitment is our quality control of picking, packing, and shipping, for which we are known. These critical components in the process are accomplished under the direct supervision of my son, Tony and me. The grapes are picked only when at their peak of maturity. Once they are packed in 36# and 42# boxes, they are stacked and strapped on pallets, loaded on our trucks and immediately hauled to our family-owned cold storage to be “forced air” pre-cooled to a temperature of 33 to 34 degrees. Only then are they ready to be shipped. For loads going by truck or rail, extra precautions, like bracing pallets and airbags, are used to assure loads arrive in the best possible condition.

In the 70’s, I joined Dad in the business and now my son Tony is part of our tradition. We look forward to a fifth generation when Tony’s son, Dominic, joins our family business! You may be assured the Guerriero Family will continue our commitment of providing quality juice grapes for many years to come!

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