UKIAH ? A veritable who?s who among Mendocino County wine and civic leaders are offering good wishes this afternoon to legendary winemaker John Parducci, who today celebrates his 90th birthday.
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 as well as his 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 wine makers. Parducci 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 after 75 years, at McNab Ridge Winery between Ukiah and Hopland. Parducci?s grandson Richard is at his side.