John Parducci, Mendocino County wine pioneer, died February 4 in his Ukiah, California, home. He was 96 years old.
Born January 22, 1918, Parducci was known as an avid outdoorsman and intense perfectionist, especially when it came to winemaking. He spent the bulk of his life as general manager and wine master of Parducci Wine Cellars in Ukiah. Founded by his father and uncle in 1932, Parducci remains the oldest operating winery in Mendocino County.
Parducci first joined the family business as a teenager, working in the fields and learning the winemaking process. He later assumed full winemaking duties in 1940, and built his family’s winery into a well-known brand over several decades. He was among the first to emphasize varietal wines, releasing a Zinfandel in 1944, Petite Sirah in 1946 and French Colombard in 1947. He was also the first to emblazon a label with the words, “Mendocino County.”
“Known as Mr. Mendocino, John was a legend in his own lifetime, both as a pioneer of California winemaking and as a spokesman for the great county of Mendocino,” said Bob Swain, current winemaker at Parducci Winery. “We will continue to honor the brand and his name into the future with pride and respect for what he created over so many decades. As his next-door neighbor, it has been a pleasure to have his counsel, and it is an honor to continue the work he started at Parducci.”
In 1990, Parducci sat down with The Bancroft Library of UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office to record “Six Decades of Making Wine in Mendocino County, California,” a rare and detailed account of California wine history told from his viewpoint.
Parducci was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2012 for a lifetime of striving to improve the quality of wine while making it more accessible, and for his half-century of championing Mendocino County as a region to the rest of the world.