The associations and connections that happen along the way of life can be simple or complex, but with Gerald (Gerry) Forsythe, owning a large and successful winery in California could hardly have been considered from his beginnings in a small rural town in east central Illinois.
Forsythe is the man behind the investment to bring the winery back that was once Arciero, EOS, Sapphire and now is Broken Earth Winery. To be clear, Chris Cameron is the winemaker and in charge of the winery as it races quickly along but Forsythe’s money is what purchased the business end of the deal – however, note the land is still owned by Chinese investors who acquired the property from Sapphire Wines. It’s a longer story than that but in short, Forsythe owns the lease on the land and use of the facility, which is quite extensive. The company is under the Continental Vineyards name.
Power and racing
Born and raised in Marshall, Illinois, Forsythe was known more for his building of a giant power industry empire, amassing nearly a billion dollars of personal worth. Still, his most public achievement may have been a more notable exploit with Gerry known as an open wheel car owner in the world of IndyCar and then owner of a series.
Already quite wealthy from his growing cogeneration power plants and equipment businesses under the company name of Indeck, Forsythe became a winning car owner in CART during the ‘90s with famous Canadian drivers like Jacques Villeneuve, Greg Moore and Paul Tracy. Notoriety would follow when Gerry along with Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi acquired CART in 2003 – which was competing against IndyCar. The new series was renamed ChampCar and it would continue to be head-to-head versus IndyCar for five more years before a merger (acquisition by IndyCar) helped bring Forsythe’s involvement in motorsports to an end.
Back in the hands of a racer
A soured and bitter end to his racing entities may have helped turn his attention to sweeter investments such as the purchase of the old EOS winery. For those in motorsports, it may seem ironic that a property originally owned by Frank Arciero and his brother who themselves were highly involved in racing including IndyCar, brings the vineyard and wine-making operation full circle and back into the hands of another racer.
Little more than five miles east of Downtown Paso Robles on Hwy 46 East, Broken Earth has a very nice tasting room and café along with a large outdoor area to enjoy the sites of east Paso Robles. The winery is also large with a huge commercial wine-making ability. Interestingly enough, the property is completely self-sufficient with a good size solar-panel farm directly south of the winery and in-fact sells energy back to the power company.
Making a name
The grapes were prized by Napa almost a half a century ago but never sold under a Paso Robles banner until recent decades. Thanks to Forsythe and Cameron – who is doing a fabulous job so far – now they’re world renown just like the Paso Robles region as a whole. Note that Forsythe also owns resorts and golf courses in Michigan, along with a 28,000 acre cattle ranch in Illinois.
Gerry Forsythe may have many other businesses under his belt but none of them is as attractive and productive for sheer enjoyment like Broken Earth Winery. Gerry partnered with a dynamic vintner in Chris Cameron and the winemaker has the vineyard racing forward, likely making this business venture as successful as all the other Forsythe companies.
The green flag has just flown – there are many more laps for Forsythe to watch over as his winery business speeds forward.
Additional source: Autocourse Official History: Cart: The First 20 Years, 1979-1998, http://nostalgiadr.wordpress.com/, Broken Earth Wines