By Mark Gmur, CWE
More than 11 years ago, in 2008, I was just starting out and while on a trip to Santa Barbara, I connected with Tim Snider, the President of Fess Parker. We were looking to represent a great partner from Santa Barbara. Tim explained to me that his wife was Fess Parker’s daughter, Ashley, and that he, Ashley and Eli, Fess’ son were running the winery, and that Fess was retired. They had growth plans too. In the years since, Tim has led the winery with a very steady hand, and we are still very proud to call Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards one of our very best partners. A long-lasting partnership was formed between our companies.
Not long after that, on March 18, 2010 – Fess Parker passed away. Last month marked the ten-year anniversary of the celebration of this legend’s life story. In celebration of the decade-long union between our two family owned companies – Fess Parker & The Mark Wine Group, we are producing a 100% Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County to be sold exclusively by The Mark Wine Group to our On-Premise national account partners; the wine is aptly named, “The Bear and Star.”
So what is the legend behind the name “The Bear and Star”? Fess was originally from Texas, born in Fort Worth and raised on a farm near San Angelo, in the heart of the Lone Star State. Graduating from the University of Texas in 1950 with a degree in history, he then studied drama at the University of Southern California, where he pursued a master’s degree in theater history. The rest as they say, is history.
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and forever changed his life. In 1988, after a legendary career cast in a variety of roles, TV shows and movies, Fess purchased 714 acres of land in the Santa Ynez Valley. His plan was to run cattle, plant a few acres to vineyard and perhaps someday, establish a small winery. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small.”