California Vintner John Parducci Starts Anew

Jul 19, 1999
Pioneering Mendocino County winemaker John Parducci has come out of retirement at age 81 to create a new red wine label. The former owner of Parducci Wine Cellars recently purchased the bankrupt Zellerbach Estates in Ukiah, also in Mendocino County, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition includes two winemaking facilities capable of producing 100,000 cases.

Parducci plans to continue making the Zellerbach wines and launch a new John Parducci Signature Series label. Grapes for the new brand will come from a number of Mendocino County growers. Parducci, who is known primarily for his red wines, plans to stick with reds again, producing Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and possibly Syrah. "I just want to make a small amount of good wines that everybody can enjoy, nothing gold-plated," said Parducci.

Zellerbach's winemaker, Jesse Tidwell, 56, will share winemaking duties with Parducci and will also act as general manager.

Parducci had retired from winemaking after being ousted from Parducci Wine Cellars in late 1994 after a long, bitter feud with investors. His father, Adolph, founded Parducci Wine Cellars in 1933, and John assumed winemaking duties in 1940. Parducci and his brother took over the winery operations in 1964 and through the 1960s and 70s drew attention to Mendocino wines with their flavorful Zinfandels, Petite Sirahs and Cabernets. In 1972, Parducci sold a majority stake in the winery to Teachers Management & Investment Corp.; tension over the winery's management ultimately resulted in his departure and the sale of the property. Parducci Wine Cellars is now owned by venture capitalist Carl Thoma.

For more about Parducci:

  • September 30, 1996
    Mendocino's Parducci Winery Sold for $19 Million

  • January 31, 1995
    John Parducci Ousted as Manager of Mendocino Winery

  • April 30, 1994
    Reflecting on Parducci and His Wines

    For ratings of Zellerbach wines, check the Wine Search.

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