Asti to Asti

Immigrants come to this country in many ways. Some in luxury, some crammed into cargo containers. This list is likely almost as long as the list of immigrants themselves. Some like my great-grandfather were recruited, lured by dreams of the future.

Asti, California was developed as an agricultural colony in 1881. The original intent was to create a vineyard and wine-producing cooperative, worked by immigrants from the area of Asti, Italy. This idea of a cooperative agricultural colony was developed by Andrea Sharboro, who immigrated to the U.S. as a child in 1844, and came to San Francisco in 1852. He prospered in the grocery business and later in providing loans to immigrants in the San Francisco Bay area. But he wanted to provide other ways for his countrymen to establish themselves in this country. His idea of a cooperative did not ultimately, work, as many of the immigrant farmers were not willing to give up the option of a wage in favor of investment.  So the colony became employers to the immigrants. The colony, those that did invest, and the immigrant farmers prospered.

These Italian and Swiss immigrants, farmers from the wine-producing region of Piemonte in northern Italy, brought skills and motivation, and settled in northern California. They were expected to stay and work for the colony for a period of time. It was hoped that they would acquire some of their own land and stay there raising families. That was not always the case. After working for a period of time, the immigrants often chose to move on to other areas.

Nonno, my great-grandfather, (“nonno” means grandfather in Italian) arrived in Asti, CA as soon as he turned 18, in 1888, after the Italian-Swiss Agricultural Colony was well established. He stayed and worked for a couple of years, and then, followed the lure of other dreams.


Childs, Harwood Lawrence. “The Asti Colony: the story of a successful cooperative association in California.” Public Opinion 33 (28 August 1902). Online archive. Google eBook ( : 2013).

Gregory, Thomas Jefferson. History of Sonoma County, California, with 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 time. Los Angeles: Historic Record Company, 1911. Online archive. ( : 2013).


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