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Varni Brothers Corporation – Brief History

The roots of Varni Brothers Corporation go back to 1933 when Attilio Varni started his beverage business on Ninth Street in Modesto; bottling, labeling and delivering local wine from casks and barrels, to restaurants and taverns in the area.

In 1936, Attilio had a franchise opportunity to bottle and distribute a 7 year old brand from St. Louis called 7-up. It reminded him of a lemon-lime soda he had in Italy. The Seven-Up Bottling Company of Modesto was born. Hard work and dedicated promotion of the quality brand increased its popularity, to the point where Attilio needed to expand his business within the building that also had been occupied by his wife, Caterina Varni and her Modesto Ravioli and Noodle Factory.

Their three sons, Louis, John, and Fred, all worked with their parents from a very young age, limiting their childhood. They worked for long hours daily after school and on weekends. World War II interrupted their lives, and they all served their country. But they all returned to the business when their duty was through. All three brothers started their own families and continued to operate and grow their business after the early illness of their father and his untimely passing.

Varni Brothers Corporation was born in 1960 as the three brothers continued to expand their business. They decided to expand at the opportunity to purchase Seven-Up Bottling Company of Stockton in 1963. And Stanislaus Distributing Company developed as a beer and wine distribution business, selling Olympia Beer and Italian Swiss Colony Wines, and operating separately from the soft drink division. Modesto became the sole bottling and also canning facility for Seven-Up Modesto and Stockton, as the business and the community continued to grow. And the beverage industry continued to change.

The third generation family members worked during the summer months and often after school like their fathers, and many entered the business as full time employees, and eventually as management, as they matured. The industry continued to change dramatically. During the 1980’s the 7-up parent company had sold for what would be the first of several times. The family owned Olympia Brewing Company sold too, as the brand’s popularity declined. The familiar wine brands were eliminated from the marketplace due to relentless competition. The changes opened the door of opportunity to branch out into new products and brands like New York Seltzer, Clearly Canadian, and Snapple.

John and Fred Varni continued to lead the company into the 1990’s by expanding their line of beverages further. The third generation management team helped introduce and market more new brands including Kendall Jackson, Red Bull and Hansen’s, and developed the Varni owned trademark, NOAH’S California Spring Water. Distribution in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties continued to grow as the population in the Central Valley increased. The production facility in Modesto continued to expand and began its modernization.

The new millennium brought more changes to Varni Brothers Corporation. The energy drink, Rockstar, had a dramatic affect on the company in both sales and production. The distribution of soft drinks and energy drinks proved to remain successful for 7up of Stockton and Modesto. Stanislaus Distributing began distribution operations in Fresno selling NOAH’S Water, Rockstar, and other energy brands. From 2004 to 2006, the Modesto production facility grew to an over 200,000 square foot, state of the art beverage plant and has increase its production capacity tenfold. The facility is SQF (Safe Quality Food) Certified.

In 2007 Varni Brothers Corporation purchased the franchise rights for 7-up, A&W, Sunkist, RC Cola, Canada Dry, to expand its territory into Calaveras and Amador Counties to go along with San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne Counties. Varni Brothers also has the Snapple franchise for Merced and Mariposa Counties. Rockstar is distributed by 7up Modesto and Stockton in the seven Northern Counties, and is distributed by Stanislaus Distributing of Fresno in Madera, Fresno, Kings and Tulare Counties.

In 2010, the packaging equipment continued to be updated and improved upon for more versatility, flexibility, and efficiency. More innovative beverages were produced, including Sofia Sparkling Wine in a can, from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. More warehouse capacity was added, and quickly filled up.

In 2011, Varni Brothers Corporation celebrated its 75th year as the 7up Bottling Company of Modesto. More than 250 people enjoy steady, full-time employment at the Modesto, Stockton and Fresno locations. New brands, and new variations of existing brands, are continually developed at the 7up Modesto facility. After acquiring neighboring property, the construction of another 27,000 square foot warehouse addition began. An additional 15,000 soon followed in 2013 making the total size of the facility 255,000 square feet, and made room for a dedicated wine production line, and a new hot fill-capable bottling line for glass, PET, aluminum bottles, and Cap Cans, for a wide variety of new production customers. Exciting products were added to the distribution portfolio, like Sparkling Ice, Vita Coco, Hubert’s Lemonade, and Tejava.

The Noah’s Spring Water options expanded in 2011, with the introduction of the new 12 oz round “ball” bottle, which quickly became a consumer favorite. Also, Noah’s Sparkling Spring Water saw a re-launch in the trendy new 12 oz sleek cans, with natural Lime, Blueberry-Pomegranate, and Peach-Mango flavors. The convenient container has quickly become a favorite item, because of its great taste, innovative package size, and healthy attributes. New can offerings include Noah’s Oxygenated Spring Water, and Noah’s Sparkling Varni Almond Spring Water. Varni Brothers added distribution partners for Noah’s throughout California as its popularity grew into new markets. The Noah’s line-up is featured and updated regularly in the social media: www.facebook.com/noahswater #noahswater

Nella Bella Fizz, a 40 calorie, unique, premium beverage line up, will be introduced at the end of 2013, made with Noah’s Spring Water, natural flavors, Cane Sugar and Stevia.

Varni Brothers Corporation has actively participated in the development of other products, including a new Cherry flavored brand extension for Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer. Varni leadership proposed and designed the artwork for the
Cock ‘n Bull Ginger Beer 8.4oz can as well as the 12 oz Sleek can and 4 pack. Varni Brothers also helped with the introduction and expansion of the 96 year old Cheerwine brand from North Carolina to the Western States. More to come.

Varni Brothers Corporation is still completely family owned. It is California’s only surviving family owned franchise bottler of any major soft drink brand. It remains well positioned in a beverage industry that continues to change quickly. Varni Brothers supports the community. Its leadership is active in the California Nevada Soft Drink Association, and holds a Directors seat on the Board for the American Beverage Association.

Attilio and Caterina Varni at the original site of 7up Bottling of Modesto shared with the Modesto Ravioli and Noodle Factory.