Fess Parker Winery In Santa Barbara Wine Country Expands Its Reach Into Napa

It is not uncommon to hear about wineries in Napa who have started to explore other wine regions, such as Paso Robles and Santa Barbara, which are more affordable and offer different soils and micro-climates. But Fess Parker Winery in Santa Ynez Valley is reversing that. With a 30-year history in Santa Barbara Wine Country and a portfolio that includes Burgundian and Rhone varieties, as well as sparkling wine, Fess Parker has now expanded to Napa Valley with their label Addendum, which you can read about in my column in the Napa Valley Register.

Fess Parker Winery is a third-generation winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. Fess Parker, an American film and television actor best known for playing Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the 1950s and 1960s, purchased a 714-acre ranch in 1988 with the idea to run cattle, grow a few acres of grapes and one day establish a small winery. He envisioned it as a family business to hand down through the generations.

It has been 30 years, and that is what has happened, and so much more. His two children, Eli and Ashley, run the business today, along with Ashley’s husband, Tim Snider, who serves as winery president. Blair Fox has been the head winemaker since 2005. And many of Eli and Ashley’s children are working in the family business or aspire to do so.

The Fess Parker home ranch is located on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. On the home ranch is the 110-acre estate vineyard, Rodney’s Vineyard, named after Fess Parker’s late son-in-law.

Rodney’s Vineyard is planted to Rhone varieties. The home ranch is also home to the winery and a tasting room open to visitors. Under the Fess Parker label, they produce Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier and red and white blends for a total of 60,000-70,000 cases of wine annually.

A few minutes down the road, in the town of Los Olivos, are the tasting rooms for Epiphany and The Bubble Shack.

Epiphany was started by Eli in 1999, focusing on small production labels of primarily Rhone varieties. Today, Epiphany produces 6,000-7,000 cases annually.

The Bubble Shack, opened 2015, was inspired by Ashley’s love of sparkling wine. Under the label Fesstivity, they produce five sparkling wines, including a Blanc de Blancs and a Brut Rose for a total of 1,000-1,200 cases of wine.

Fess Parker Winery seems to be exploring all wine regions. They produce Rhone-style wines from the estate vineyard and have Burgundian-style wines and methode champanoise wines from grapes sourced from vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, where Fess Parker has long term contracts with some of the finest vineyards. But what about Bordeaux varieties?

The family decided to extend its reach and delve into Cabernet Sauvignon and set its sights on Napa. The Happy Canyon AVA in the Santa Ynez Valley is a good place to source Cabernet Sauvignon but it does not have Napa’s pedigree.

They tapped into some of the most prestigious, established and diverse vineyards in Napa Valley and created Addendum. Addendum, a stand-alone label, is a small, hands-on Napa winemaking project with a total production of 500 cases and a dedicated tasting room at Fess Parker Winery.

Fess Parker Winery is sourcing Cabernet Sauvignon from two vineyards, Stagecoach Vineyard in the Atlas Peak AVA and the Rutherford Vineyard in the Rutherford AVA. Producing Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a departure for winemaker Blair Fox who specializes in Rhone varietal wines. And with the Cabernet, he takes on a different approach. The grapes are 100 percent de-stemmed and hand-sorted. Gentle pump-overs lead to a 30- to 45-day maceration and close-top fermentation.

There are three wines under the Addendum label, ranging between $90-$95. The 2014 Addendum Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of the Rutherford and Stagecoach vineyards. The wine is a deep purple color with aromas of plum, black currants, lavender, cloves and cedar box. On the palate, it is ripe, elegant and full-bodied with grainy tannins.

The 2014 Addendum-Stagecoach Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark garnet color with notes of blackberries, cassis, violets and spice. It is full-bodied with grainy tannins and a long finish.

The 2014 Addendum-Skellenger Lane Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant yet structured wine with notes of red currant, black fruit, licorice and clove and like the other wines is full-bodied with a long finish.

With Fess Parker Winery’s extension into Napa, they are bringing Napa to Santa Barbara. Visitors to the Fess Parker Winery on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail not only taste the wines from Santa Barbara but also wines from Napa.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.