Fess Parker, actor, developer and vintner passed away at the age of 85 on March 18. Every boy growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s spent plenty of time watching Fess Parker on TV, first as hero Davy Crockett and then Daniel Boone. Like most boys of that generation, I certainly had my coonskin cap. But as boys become men, they put away those childish things and turn to more adult things including wine. Following his acting career, Fess Parker, moved on to real estate development and then followed his dreams into winemaking.
With his family at his side he opened Fess Parker Winery in 1989 along the Foxen Canyon wine trail near Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County. Whether it be acting, real estate development or winemaking, Fess always put his all in to making it a success. The Fess Parker family farms over 700 acres of vineyard in Santa Barbara County and even with his long list of accomplishments; the winery was one of his proudest achievements.
Fess Parker was an important icon of Santa Barbara county wine industry. His Camp 4 winery at Fess Parker Ranch has supplied the grapes for many vintners throughout California. Many smaller winemakers produce their wines in the Fess Parker facilities. His winery is a tourist destination, not only for the memories of Fess, but for the fine wines as well. Many of his wines have scored very high in wine competitions and have garnered multitude of awards over the years. The tasting room was even a focal point in the famous movie “Sideways” filmed in the Santa Ynez valley.
Visitors to the tasting room were often thrilled to find Fess in a corner, signing bottles of his wine. The tasting room has a gift shop that carries much of the memorabilia of his acting past. His family is still active in the operation of the winery, including his son Eli, president of Fess Parker winery.
In many ways, I feel I grew up with Fess Parker. This icon to baby boomers and wine lovers will truly be missed.
For more info: Fess Parker Winery obituary