Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard is located on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail in Los Olivos with views of the San Rafael mountain range. The original estate vineyard, known as “Rodney’s Vineyard” is over 600 acres and has been producing grapes for their Rhone wine which has generated several award winning bottles of Syrah and Viognier. In 1999 Fess Parker Ranch was added southwest to the winery consisting of 1,400 acres. As one of the larger scale wineries they bottle approximately 58,000 cases a year.
Fess Parker was an actor in such roles as Disney’s Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone. After retiring from acting he established the winery in 1989. It follows in the theme of his career with a country motif. The winery remains a family business currently being run by his son and daughter.
The large rustic cabin tasting room has a small section for souvenirs including coon skin hats for you and your wine bottle, movies and memorabilia from Fess Parker’s acting days.
The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The fee is $12 but they will forgive your fee it if you spend $100 or more. The glass is an additional $3 and follows the motif with a coon skin cap etched in. The tasting fee also allows you to visit their sister winery Epiphany Cellars in town for a complementary tasting.
There is ample space in the tasting room with two counters and a cozy couch area near a fireplace if you find room. There are also tables outside for a little more space and a gorgeous view of the mountain range.
Staff is friendly but can get busy and rushed. Some of the larger wineries staff tend to give you an verbatim description of the wine from the tasting menu while walking past you to the next guest. That is not the case at Fess Parker. They are knowledgeable about history of the winery, the wines and the best pairings for each bottle and take the time to answer any questions you have.
As always, down times during the week offer more one on one time with the staff and a more detailed explanation of the wines but it is particularly true with a winery of this size and notoriety. Fess Parker was one of the wineries featured in the movie “Sideways” which only adds to the crowds.
Fess Parker has a long list of award winning wines and is home to two recipients of the Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of Year Award; Eli Parker in 2006 and Blair Fox in 2008.
A recent tasting included the following wines.
- 2011 Chardonnay, Bien Nacido Vineyard
- 2012 Viognier, Rodney’s Vineyard
- 2009 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
- 2009 Pinot Noir, American Traditional Reserve
- 2009 Pinot Noir, Ashley’s
- 2009 The Big Easy
- *Additional taste of 2010 Chardonnay, Sierra Madre Vineyard
Pours could be more generous, especially with a $12 fee but they do allow for revisiting of the wines and will offer additional items not on the tasting menu if you show an interest. The Viognier and The Big Easy stand out as superior wines.
They are dog friendly establishment and have a charming winery mascot roaming the grounds willing to make friends with your pooch.
The wine club consists of various choices of shipments at once, twice or four times a year. Wine shipments are at a 25% discount as well as any additional bottles from the club you choose to purchase. They also offer a 20% discounts on bottles not currently featured in the club.
There are a lot of great benefits for this wine club. To start they offer discounts on winemaker dinners, special events and an invitation to the BBQ on release day. Members get access to the Estate Barrel Room and a 15% discount on tasting room merchandise including those coon skin hats for you and your wine. Tastings for four are included with each trip to the winery.
Additional benefits not normally part of other wine clubs include free tastings for four at their sister winery, Epiphany Cellars in town as well as 20% savings on wine purchased. Members will also enjoy discounts at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa.
It is definitely worth following them on social media. A recent Facebook contest called for recipes that would best complement Fess Parker wines. The winners received a “SummerFess” package with an all-expenses paid trip to Santa Barbara; lodging at the Fess Parker Hotel, an all-access pass to SummerFess, dinner at Rodney’s Grill, special tastings and a festival at Fess Parker Winery. This was not the first contest this year and seems likely not to be the last.
They are also active on Twitter with announcements of local and winery events. They boast live music and food truck events to name a few.
Of the larger wineries it is more down to earth and friendly. Should definitely been on your list if visiting the area but try to work them in during the week to avoid the crowds.