Those members of a certain age will remember the softly spoken Texan actor Fess Parker, who starred as Davy Crockett on TV in the mid-1950s and as Daniel Boone in the late 1960s. On retiring from acting he bought a ranch in 1989, in Santa Barbara County, and planted 5 acres of vineyards.
Growing grapes and making some wine all began as a small venture for his own amusement, but, as his daughter Ashley pointed out some years later, ‘Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small.’
Before long he had acquired more vineyards with the help of his children and the estate land now covers 700 acres with a winery at its heart.
Today the estate is award winning, includes a hotel, spa and restaurant, and makes wine from several different vineyards in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez valleys and the Santa Rita Hills.
Fess Parker passed away in 2010 but had already handed over the reins to son Eli, who became the president of the company to add to his role as head winemaker. Ashley heads up the marketing and sales departments.
Though the estate lies just an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, the elevation in the hills and the influence of the Pacific Ocean are keenly felt and cool-climate pinot noir and chardonnay are a speciality, though they also grow Rhône varieties, and grapes are sourced from other cooler-climate areas of California like Monterey.