Fess Parker Winery
Santa Ynez Valley AVA
One of the great award-winning family wineries of Santa Barbara County
Located on the pastoral Foxen Canyon Wine Trail in the Santa Ynez Valley, the winery and family vineyard are situated on a picturesque 714-acre estate surrounded by rolling hills, vast meadows, and pristine landscapes as far as the eye can see. This peaceful environment is what enticed the late Fess Parker into purchasing the property back in 1988. The winery has since become a great success and it still follows the standards and vision originally set forth by its memorable founder.
Originally from Texas, Fess Parker grew up with a love of history and acting. Following his tour of duty in the U.S. Navy during WWII, Fess attended the University of Texas, earning a degree in history, and the University of Southern California, earning a Masters degree in drama. He began acting professionally in 1951 and landed the role of his life in 1954 when he was cast in the title role of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. Fess then went on to star in the network television series, Daniel Boone, which was one of the highest rated shows on television. His portrayal of these men impacted millions of young viewers and he was known by many as an American icon.
Fess decided to leave Hollywood in the early 1970’s and moved into his second career as a real estate developer. Blending his gracious Texas manner and a tremendous eye for real estate, Fess opened his first resort hotel in Santa Barbara, California in 1986. Set on 23.5 ocean front acres, The Fess Parker, a Doubletree by Hilton, is situated in the heart of Santa Barbara’s waterfront and is a favorite destination for visitors to the area.
While in Santa Barbara, Fess realized its potential as a premium grape-growing region and set his sights inland in the Foxen Canyon in Santa Ynez Valley. There, he discovered his next adventure - a 714-acre ranch where he initially planned to run cattle, plant a few grapes to sell to other vintners, and establish a small winery. Fess had dreamed of one day starting a family business that he could pass on to future generations and this picturesque Foxen Canyon property was bursting with potential. He had a specific vision and knew he could achieve it.
It was 1989 and Fess, his son Eli, and daughter Ashley, came together to plant an experimental 5-acre Riesling vineyard on the property. It was no surprise to anyone involved that this small vineyard project quickly became something much larger. As Fess’s daughter Ashley explains it, “Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small.” The Parker family now runs a cutting edge winery and tasting room and farms over 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
Right from the start, Eli Parker expressed a great interest in winemaking and began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, he took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. In 1996, he assumed the title and responsibilities of President, and today is the Chief Executive Officer. Eli has proven to be an exceptional leader of the Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard and continues to oversee further expansion and exciting new winemaking ventures for the winery.
Ashley Parker-Snider has been involved in all facets of the sales and marketing operations of the winery and frequently travels to trade events around the country to represent the winery. Her husband, Tim Snider, joined the Fess Parker Winery in 1999 and worked his way through marketing roles to finally being named President of the winery in 2010. Prior to working in the family business, Tim was a successful brand marketing and sales manager for E&J Gallo Winery in northern California.
The Parker family’s whole-hearted dedication to the family business has made Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard into the award-winning winery it is today. Since Fess Parker passed away in 2010, his children have made it their mission to uphold his original vision. The winery continues to garner awards for producing some of the region’s finest wines and the Parkers are very proud of their accomplishments.
The grand tasting room serves as the perfect setting to enjoy Fess Parker’s premium Santa Barbara County wines. The Australian sheep station - style building is filled with photos and memorabilia of Fess Parker, celebrating his roles not only as an actor, but also as the founder of one of Santa Barbara’s most renowned family wineries.
About the Vineyard
The Fess Parker 2010 ‘Ashley’s’ Pinot Noir was produced from Ashley’s Vineyard, located in the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The vineyard was originally planted by Fess Parker in 1997 and was named after his daughter. Ashley’s Vineyard has since been sold to Foley Winery, where it is known as Rancho Las Hermanas Vineyard, but Fess Parker continues to source fruit from the location and keeps the designation as ‘Ashley’s.
Ashley’s Vineyard property covers a total of 213 planted acres and is the western-most property in the Santa Rita Hills AVA. The site thus benefits from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. Ashley’s Vineyard is planted on over six different soil types and a range of slope exposures, creating an ideal microclimate for each varietal to express their full potential. The Santa Rita Hills AVA was established in 2001 and overall is a very unique, ultra-cool climate growing area that is perfectly suited to the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Blair Fox - Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year
Blair Fox assumed head winemaking duties at Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard in 2005, bringing with him an extraordinarily diverse background and incredible winemaking experience. Graduating from U.C. Davis in 1999 with a combined degree in Viticulture and Enology, Blair has held winemaking positions at Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, at Haselgrove Winery (a custom-crush winery in McLaren Vale, Australia), and at his own namesake winery, Blair Fox Cellars, where he uses on Rhone-style wines. He has traveled extensively through France, and continues to be inspired by the country’s exquisite wines. Blair is pleased to have his wine in the hands of our Pinot Noir Series Wine Club members.
At Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard, Blair Fox continues the stylistic direction set by Eli Parker when capturing the terrior of the vineyards and he aims to continue raising the bar for the award-winning wines. Blair Fox’s wines have garnered countless awards and he has even achieved the great honor of being named the Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. He is widely considered to be one of the Santa Ynez Valley’s top winemakers.