Fess Parker: Winemaker
By: Legacy Staff
4 years ago
Forty years after he'd made his name portraying Davy Crockett, actor Fess Parker still had fans seeking autographs and photos. But they wouldn't go to the Walt Disney lot in Hollywood, California, to find him. Instead, they'd travel farther north to the tasting room at the Fess Parker Winery near Santa Barbara, where the actor-turned-vintner signed autographs, shook hands and posed for photos.
Parker, who died in March 2010 at age 85, actually had a relatively short acting career, hanging up his buckskin suit in the 1970s after just more than 20 years in the business. He spent the last 35 years of his life as a real estate developer, establishing luxury hotels and the successful winery and vineyard that still bear his name.
To celebrate what would have been Parker's 90th birthday Aug. 16, Legacy.com looks at Parker's vineyard and other famous people who have found success as vintners:
1. Fess Parker – Labels for this winery's bottles bear a drawing of Davy Crockett's coonskin cap. Located about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara along the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, the winery has remained a family business: Son Eli is CEO and daughter Ashley Parker-Snider is executive vice president, according to the winery's website. The winery was renamed "Frass Canyon" in the 2004 movie Sideways. The scene in which Paul Giamatti's character tries to get drunk by drinking from a "dump bucket" during a tasting was filmed here.
2. Dan Aykroyd – The comedian has said his "wine epiphany" took place in the early 1980s when he was given a taste of a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. "I changed my whole perception of what I wanted to taste for the rest of my life," he told a wine industry magazine in 2007. Wines bearing the actor's name are a result of collaboration between Aykroyd and Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd. They are made from grapes grown in an Ontario, Canada, vineyard.
3. Antonio Banderas – Since 2009, the Spanish-born actor has owned a 50 percent share of a winery in Spain's Ribera del Duero region. After being based in the U.S. more than two decades, Banderas said wine "became kind of a bridge that could take me (home)," according to his interview in the May 2012 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine. "In a bottle of wine there is something that's there of the land that I love."
4. Sting – The former frontman for the Police and longtime solo artist owns an Italian estate with his wife. Tenuta il Palagio produces wine, honey and olive oil. The products are sold online and at the couple's on-site shop. Among the wines available are two named after songs the singer has made famous: "Message in a Bottle" and "Sister Moon."
5. Train – The California rockers launched their "Save Me, San Francisco" label with winemaker James Foster in 2011. Band members "collaborate on production and taste before composing final blends, making wines that the band feels are approachable and perfect for everyday sipping," USA Today noted in March 2014. A portion of sales is donated to a local charity.
6. Boz Scaggs – The rock musician and his wife are the proud proprietors of Scaggs Vineyard, a certified organic winery in California's Napa Valley. They work closely with their winemaker "in crafting a small, highly select production of estate wines," about 450 cases per year, according to the winery's website. During a 2012 fundraiser, President Barack Obama and his guests enjoyed a Scaggs Vineyard rose.
7. Emilio Estevez – In 2004, the actor-director and his winemaker wife planted pinot noir vines on their property in Malibu. Four years later, they made their first 50 cases of wine using a hand-crank crusher and stem remover. Today the Casa Dumetz winery produces 1,000 cases annually, according to the winery's website. One of the winery's mottos: "We make wine. Seriously."
8. Madonna – The singer has a partial interest in Ciccone Vineyard & Winery, which her father runs in northern Michigan. One of her sisters and a half brother also work there. The winery's website does not tout its connection to the megastar; however, it did release five limited-edition wines bearing her name and image in 2006.
9. Fergie – Ferguson Crest is a small winery in California's Santa Ynez Valley that the Black Eyed Peas singer founded along with her father. In an introduction on the company website, Fergie notes how the family crest bears a boar's head, an "ancient symbol of hospitality. I can't think of a more perfect way to honor my family's heritage and carry on that tradition of warmth and generosity than to share with you Ferguson Crest's collection of wines."
10. Francis Ford Coppola – Perhaps the best-known celebrity winemaker, Coppola purchased his first winery in California's Napa Valley in 1975. More recently, the movie director bought a vineyard in Sonoma County, Calif. "Director's Cut" is the designation for his higher-end line of wines.
Natalie Pompilio is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. Her lifelong love of obituaries raised eyebrows when she was younger, but she's now able to explain that this interest goes beyond morbid curiosity. Says Pompilio, "Obituaries are mini life stories, allowing a glimpse into someone's world that we're often denied. I just wish we could share them with each other when we're alive."