The Cioccas met shortly after Arthur led a leveraged buyout of Coca-Cola’s winemaking operations in 1981. He had been the head of marketing for that division, and decided to buy it when he learned Coca-Cola was divesting the unit.
Shortly thereafter, he was introduced to the woman who would become his wife, Carlyse Franzia, whose family started one of the wineries at the heart of Coca-Cola’s operation: Franzia Wines. Carlyse married Arthur eight months after they met, and she became the family “quarterback” as The Wine Group grew to become the second-largest wine producer by volume. In recent years the couple has donated to Catholic University to create the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship, and to Arthur’s alma mater, College of the Holy Cross, to create the Carlyse and Arthur A. Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics and Society.
By Chris Norris, Executive Director of Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
I’ve worked for 35 years in Silicon Valley in very entrepreneurial companies and roles and before I met Art Ciocca two and a half years ago, if you had asked me if I knew most everything about “Silicon Valley-style” entrepreneurship, I’d have been inclined to say “yes!”.
Art’s vision of entrepreneurship, which I’ve had the extraordinary opportunity to help implement at Santa Clara University, wasn’t one of teaching students how to start, build, or run a business. Rather, Art was focused on how we think like entrepreneurs and the tough problem of how we teach the elements of an Entrepreneurial Mindset to students from all disciplines and walks of life, regardless of whether that student will ever start a business.
Art saw entrepreneurship as a set of life skills - empathy for those who are in pain and whose problems we attempt to solve; the optimism to approach problems as opportunities; confidence in taking risks; and an awareness of the impact of our actions. I still blink in surprise when I recall my initial conversations with Art as he described his vision to me in such a pure form.
I spent quite a few hours with Art on the phone, and sharing ideas through email, in the short time that I was privileged to know him. It remains a disappointment in my life that I didn’t meet him many years earlier in my career. But I’m grateful for the time I had with him, and how much he taught me about a subject where I already considered myself an expert.
For me, the good news is that every day I get to think about Art and what he would have liked to see come of his ideas. I’m honored to be able to continue the work of building a campus-wide center, the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, so generously funded and supported by Art and Carlyse Ciocca. And I remain inspired to help students from all backgrounds and disciplines become equipped with the tools of an entrepreneur as Art Ciocca envisioned.
Art earned a B.S. degree from College of the Holy Cross and an MBA from Roosevelt University, which he earned taking night classes while a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He tried his hand unsuccessfully as an entrepreneur in the 1970s before taking a marketing job at the E&J Gallo Winer — where, unbeknownst to him at the time, the owner was his future wife’s uncle by marriage.
As CEO of The Wine Group, he was known for implementing a compensation plan that emphasized long-term value creation and led the company when it made the bold choice to sell Franzia wines in boxes — ultimately making it the largest-volume wine brand for the next 15 years, and funding The Wine Group’s expansion to 49 additional wine brands, including Cupcake, Chloe, and Concannon. Read his book, Thinking Outside of the Box.
Carlyse is the granddaughter of the intrepid Italian immigrant Teresa Franzia, who in 1933 borrowed $10,000 to turn her husband’s grape and cherry farming land into a full-blown winery. Teresa Franzia gave half of the loan proceeds to her son-in-law Ernest Gallo — who would go on to build the E&J Gallo Winery and employ a young marketing employee named Arthur Ciocca.
Carlyse graduated from Santa Clara University in 1977 with a degree in Business Administration. Carlyse is president and co-trustee of the Arthur and Carlyse Ciocca Charitable Foundation which focuses its giving on promoting entrepreneurship and offering scholarships to promising young students with leadership and entrepreneurial potential.
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