I love meeting winemakers and hearing their stories of how they fell onto the path of becoming a winemaker. Every person has a different journey as to what drew them into the wine industry. When I sat down with Megan McGrath Gates, winemaker at Lucas & Lewellen in the Santa Ynez Valley, she shared her story with me, which started with a childhood dream. But, even with a dream, she never imagined she would end up making wine. And yet she has. Megan's childhood dreams have become her reality as I wrote about recently in the Napa Valley Register and am sharing here.
When Megan McGrath Gates was a little girl, she would listen to the stories of her grandparents. A ninth-generation Californian, Gates was raised in Riverside. But, her ancestors were ranchers and she is a direct descendant of the historic Olivas family in Ventura, California.
Despite her ancestors, Gates was a typical suburban kid. Her dad is a lawyer and her mom is a teacher. She is one of six children and has a twin sister. With all of the romantic stories about her family, she dreamed about being a rancher and living a bucolic life.
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.