Gerry Wilson, the always-smiling patriarch of the Wilson family and Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyard, died Thursday, Nov. 4.
He was 90 years old.
“His sparkling blue eyes and contagious smile warmed the hearts of thousands,” the winery shared on its Facebook page on Thursday, Nov. 5. “It is with a heavy heart, we share the loss of this incredible man. Gerry was widely known for his kindness, compassion, love, and graciousness. He left four generations of immediate family and thousands of extended family that are thankful for his influence on their lives. His spirit and daily presence will be truly missed but his legacy lives on forever at Wilson Creek.”
Reached Thursday for comment, his eldest son, Chief Executive Officer Bill Wilson said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support being shown to the family.
“My tear ducts are stuck open as so many people are sending their love and support and how much he touched the lives of so many,” he said. “He showed us all how to live and love and be the best version of ourselves! There is a huge void that he left behind that can only be filled by those he touched and for all of us to pay it forward and love on and enhance the lives of those around you! He is now helping the good Lord make heaven an even better place!”
Gerry, almost always accompanied by his wife of 67 years, Rosie, was a familiar face to thousands of people who visited the winery over the years and the couple lived on the winery’s property.
Rosie and Gerry met as youngsters headed back to their respective hometowns in the Midwest on a train from Boise, Idaho, back in 1952. They were married a year later.
When Gerry got back from Korea, the couple moved to Minnesota and he started working in banking while she worked for a power company. In the 1970s, the couple moved their family west to south Pasadena.
Many years later, it was Bill who suggested the family open a winery in Temecula.
“We used to come down here to play golf,” Gerry said in a 2019 interview with Valley News. “Never dreaming we would ever live here, much less be in the wine business.”
But they did. The decision to take a chance on a 20-acre plot of land out in the middle of nowhere instead of spending their days on a golf course has paid off, they said.
“Oh, this is much more fun,” Rosie said. “I think this has kept us young.”
“We are basically living the dream,” Gerry said. “The motivating factor, I think, for doing this whole thing in this particular area was the lifestyle.
“No. 1, all of our kids, grandkids are all right here. Secondly, in terms of work, our commute to work is one and a half minutes.
“The morning starts out with hot air balloons floating around, we come down here and we meet a lot of wonderful people from all around the world. Right now we can come and go as we please and all we do basically is to become ambassadors for the winery. We advertise ourselves as a family-owned and operated winery, so that is important to us.”
The couple said in the interview that the winery and the people that have visited have given them much.
“People come up and say, ‘Thank you for being here,’” Gerry said. “We say thank you for coming here; it’s a two-way street.”
Services for Gerry have not yet been announced.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.