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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Vitale Dufranc

To those born and reared in southern France grape culture and wine-making come as second nature, blood transmission and environment both contributing to make it part and parcel of their being. One of those so endowed is V. Dufranc, the owner and proprietor of the famous Gers winery at Sebastopol. Bordeaux, France, was the scene of the birth of Mr. Dufranc, and February 15, 1856, the date of that event. Boyhood, youth and young manhood were passed in that locality, in sight of the purple hills and valleys which had made that section of France renowned the world over for the cultivation of the vine. Being reared in these surroundings Mr. Dufranc would have absorbed a knowledge of grape-growing and wine-making even if he had not inherited a predilection for the business from his forefathers, who were all engaged in it. When he came to the United States at the age of twenty-seven years his chief asset was a knowledge of the grape business from beginning to end, but it was not until he came to Sonoma county in 1896 that he put this knowledge to practical account in this country.

The vessel which landed Mr. Dufranc on these shores cast anchor in the harbor of New York, and from there he made his way westward as far as Chicago, Ill. After working in the metropolis of the middle west for a time he again took up his westward way, his next stop being in Denver, Colo., and from there he soon set out for California, arriving in San Francisco in July, 1884. For a short time he was employed in a restaurant in that city, remaining there until a better opportunity offered. In the meantime he was quick to see a good opening in the laundry business, and although he had no practical knowledge of the business he ventured in the undertaking, and the fact that he continued in the business for twelve years is ample testimony that it was not a failure. On disposing of his business interests in San Francisco in 1896 he came to Sonoma county and turned his attention to his old-time business of wine-making. Near Sebastopol he purchased nineteen and one-half acres of land which he set out almost entirely to vineyard, reserving only a small portion upon which to plant a family orchard. As his vines came into bearing he established a winery for the manufacture of the grape into wine, and the general opinion is that the product of the Gers winery has no equal anywhere. A specialty is made of red wines, all of which is disposed of to wholesale dealers only, in casks and barrels. Eight thousand gallons of wine was the output of the winery for the season of 1909.

When Mr. Dufranc came to the United States in 1884he brought with him his wife, who in maidenhood was Miss Jane Dentang, to whom he was married in France in 1882. The only child of this marriage is a son, Isidore, who was born in California in 1887. He has received a good education in the schools of Sebastopol, and is now assisting his father in the winery. Fraternally Mr. Dufranc is identified with two organizations, the French Lodge of Odd Fellows in San Francisco, and the Sebastopol Lodge, F. & A. M.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011