Fausta Franco-Guerrero’s Journey to Grow Fathia Vineyards



by Linda Castillo

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Fausta Franco-Guerrero, President and owner of Fathia Vineyards, a boutique family winery located in the heart of beautiful Sonoma Valley.  Fausta shared her family story and everything they had to overcome to be where they are now. The experience has made Fausta stronger to persevere and follow her dream. And here she is now, talking about that journey at Faz Restaurant, just one of the many restaurants featuring her wines.

The Dream Began on a Vineyard

FathiaHubbyFausta’s dream to start her own vineyard was deeply rooted in her at a young age having grown up on a vineyard watching her father take care of the grapevines.

“I would imitate my father from what he did – taking the clusters, tasting the grapes. Just playing in the vineyard was a magical moment for me. At the age of 10 or 12, that’s when I realized what I wanted in life. I wanted to keep that dream going. I knew then that I wanted to be vineyard owner. A small quantity but with that vineyard I knew I could make wonderful things,” recalled Fausta.

With such beautiful childhood memories, Fausta wanted her children to experience the wonder of growing up in such a special place. She remembered that when she met her husband, Rogelio Guerrero, they talked about owning a winery when they first got married.

“I wanted my kids to have the same experience as I did. Right now I see my older kids wanting to help me with my business and my younger one playing there along with my God son. My daughter is teaching my God son which berries to eat reminds me of what I experienced which is beautiful memories that will stay with me and my children forever,” says Fausta.

A Family’s Journey

It has been Fausta’s family journey to bring the dream of Fathia Vineyards to reality. Her uncle worked in the vineyards his entire life and owned a vineyard management company. With help from her husband and uncle, they planted their first vineyard in 2005. Sadly, they were unable to sell the initial harvest in the market because they didn’t have the proper licensing. This was a major financial and emotional set back and it was at that point that a leap of faith happened for Fausta.

“My cousin approached me and said if you want to make wine, we can make wine. It’s really easy, we can do it. With his equipment and knowledge he introduced everything to us. It was hands-on that we worked together,” recalled Fausta.

It has been a tough journey to get to where she is today. Fausta acknowledges how much the support and encouragement from her husband, children, mother, family and friends have made it possible for Fathia Vineyards to be a success.

“When we have something promising come up there was something to bring us back down. But I still have that determination. Fathia Vineyards is alive thanks to my mother, my husband, my cousin who is mentoring me, my kids who want to help, my family members who have told me not to quit and to keep going,” says Fausta.

Having Faith to be Victorious

Another devastating setback occurred in 2013 when the winery opened to the public for the first time. Her husband and she were trying to think of a name for the family winery. They both felt strongly to name the family winery Fausta to honor her initial vision.

“So there is this little boutique winery doing so well and then a year later I get a letter in the mail. A letter to cease and desist from a big winery owner who had a label similar to Fausta. I was devastated because I couldn’t use my legal name. For me, not using my legal name meant it was the end, the end of my journey, the end of my project and what I believed in,” explained Fausta.

FathiaLogoTalking with Fausta you can see she is spiritual person. Her faith has been an important part of her journey and it was an integral part of coming up with the new family winery name. At that point she searched within her heart and soul trying to figure out what she was going to do. None of the alternative name options seemed to be right because all she wanted was Fausta. All of sudden Fathia kept popping up everywhere in books and online. When she saw that name it reminded her of faith.

“As I researched more I realized that Fathia meant victorious. It made me focus on this big winery owner that took my legal name so I can’t use it but Fathia is allowing me to have faith to continue this journey to see where it will take me to be victorious with my dream. I chose Fathia to honor those who started it with me,” stated Fausta.

Paying it Forward

In addition to all the obstacles the winery faced, it was also a time of transition and growth for Fausta. She went from being a mother, a wife, and then starting her business. She poured all of herself into her growing the winery which she lovingly refers to as her baby. With three children now ages 14, 11 and 5, it was difficult balancing it all at first but now she has found her stride.


“I want to treat my baby, my business, the same as I treat my children. I have been able to make it because my husband, my mother taking care of my children, family and friends who inspire me to continue. Now I have my own calendar and set my times where I need to be. There are places that I have been invited to but I can’t make it because there are birthdays or doctor appointments. My kids are a priority. It’s been tough but little by little I have made it where I want my business to be,” says Fausta.

She knows firsthand the challenges of becoming an entrepreneur and starting a winery. In the beginning, Fausta recalls that nobody knew who they were and the majority of people did not want to give her an opportunity. But along the way she has met great people who started to give her a chance. She wants to pay if forward and help other people who are in her shoes now. She wants to be a mentor and give them the resources and guidance to help them pursue their dream to start a winery.

When asked what advice she would give to anyone thinking about following his or her dream, Fausta had the following wisdom to share. “Try. Go for your dreams. See if you make it wonderful. And if you didn’t at least your tried. Because 20 years later you will see where you ended up. Instead of saying I should of, should of doesn’t exist. Definitely go for your dreams,” stated Fausta.

Award-winning Wines Made from the Heart

There is so much love and care that goes into growing the grapevines and the wine making. Fausta is involved in each aspect of the wine making process, she even places the wax seal on every single bottle. The journey to start the family boutique winery has been a rocky one. But now Fausta and her family are reaping the benefits from all of their hard work and perseverance.


Today, Fathia Vineyards has a suite of handcrafted wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat Canelli, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. Since releasing the wines to the public, they have received accolades from wine critics and patrons alike. In fact, their 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon was presented with a Platinum award by the Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition and 89 points by The Wine Enthusiast along with their Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon awarded 91 points. As a new winery to have these awards is an honor and testament for all the hard work, passion and dedication that she and her family have put into Fathia Vineyards.

2016 is off to a great start for Fathia Vineyards with several restaurants starting to serve the wines and many upcoming special wine events on the schedule. Fausta and her husband recently purchased a small vineyard that is earmarked to produce Pinot and a little bit of Rose wine next year.

If you want to try the wines from Fathia Vineyards, you can purchase online and order at select restaurants. You can request an intimate and special “Meet the Winemaker” experience with Fausta herself. Also, Fathia Vineyards is one of the participating wineries at the upcoming 7th Annual Sabor del Valle event on July 22, 2016 at Mexican Heritage Plaza, San Jose, CA. To purchase tickets visit: http://bit.ly/1q41Mkq

Note: All images courtesy of Fathia Vineyards.

Linda Castillo is the Founder and Executive Editor of www.ModernLatina.com. She writes on topics that empower and inspire Latinas including art, motherhood, green living, culture, travel, and issues transforming the Latino community. Linda has earned a B.S. in Business and a M.S. in Mass Communications from San Jose State University.