A veritable who’s who among Mendocino County wine and civic leaders offered good wishes in late January to legendary winemaker John Parducci on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
According to Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat newspaper, Parducci celebrated in high style at a reception at a downtown cafe — despite his age, and a recent history of hip, hearing and heart problems. He was saluted by a parade of old friends, family members and wine industry leaders.
For Parducci, the birthday bash was testament to his standing in the local wine industry, and as a leader statewide. During a 30-year period, Parducci judged at the state’s premier wine events.
Parducci also is known for his sharp tongue, in addition to his well-trained palate.
Few who know him have forgotten the time he silenced a ballroom of pink Zinfandel-swilling Texas socialites in Dallas after denouncing from the podium such “soda pop” wines.
At home, Parducci is revered as the grand old master of county winemakers. He was the first to bottle a varietal bearing the county’s name on the label, and his passion for making wine from Petite Sirah grapes is unequaled.
Parducci and other family members in the 1930s built, by hand, Mendocino County’s first winery north of town. At age 14, he traveled alone by train to Hoboken, N.J., to sell his family’s grapes during Prohibition.
Parducci is still making wine 75 years later, at McNab Ridge Winery between the Mendocino County towns of Ukiah and Hopland. Parducci’s grandson, Richard, is at his side in the cellar.