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by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
...by Larry Walker, San Francisco Chronicle
A Fast Start
On July 4, 1933, 14-year-old John Parducci left Ukiah, California for Hoboken, N.J. He was to receive and sell the 40 carloads of Parducci grapes his dad and brothers shipped to the Eastern market. This saved the N.J. agent's fee of $25 per car. $25 x 40 .= $1,000, which was big money in the Depression. John later said in his understated manner, "I got quite an education."
Let's go back and see how all this came about.
Parducci Milestones—First, the cast:
1. Grandfather John Parducci who owned a vineyard and winery in Tuscany; we'll call him John Sr.
2. Adolph, John Sr.'s son.
3. Adoph's son John, whom we'll call John Jr.
At the turn of the century, John Sr. left Italy with his wife and settled in San Jose. Four sons, including Adolph were born.
1907—The Parduccis become homesick. Six-year-old Adolph is back in Tuscany with his parents, where he learns how to make wine with a Tuscan touch.
1917—Sixteen-year-old Adolph returns to California. Soon he meets and marries Isabella. They have four sons, a vineyard, a winery, and then a big fire! This was at Cloverdale in Sonoma county.
c.1928—Land is so expensive that the family, including John Jr., moves to Ukiah in Mendocino County.
1933—Adolph and his four sons complete what today is Mendocino County's oldest winery. There were rows of 50-gallon barrels with spigots. Customers would bring their own jugs.
1944—The Parduccis are among the first in California to put the name of the dominant grape on their wine labels.
1960—Adolph retires and John Jr. is the winemaker. By 1964 the team is planting the first Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in Mendocino county. John successfully changed the winery from jugs to premium production.
The reputation for good wines at a good price continued, and annual production reached 100,000 cases by 1972. Family ownership ended on the 40th anniversary of the winery, 1973. Now the new owners have just completed a multimillion dollar upgrade. They are the Thoma family, Carl and Marilynn. Both are creative Stanford MBA grads with a great affection for the Mendocino region, and a determination to make Parducci even bigger and better. WineDay will be reporting on their latest releases soon.
We opened with a quote from Chronicle critic Larry Walker. Let's close with another about John Parducci. "The old wizard has come up with a new trick, a Charbono-Petite Sirah blend...so good that one glass will never be enough. Bravo!"
Contact—Office of Jill Beaverson, (707) 463-5386, FAX (707) 581-1860
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11/09/00—Washington Elected President
11/08/00—Pick of the Decade
11/03/00—Where Are the Women?
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This page created November 2000