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    The Bear and Star Pinot Noir

    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.”

    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.”

    The next generation of Fess Parker Winery (Tim Snider, Ashley Parker Snider, Eli Parker)

    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.

    Fess Parker as Davey Crockett

    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.”

    Honoring the life and legend of Fess Parker, “The Bear and Star” Pinot Noir, draws its iconic imagery from the two states he called home – California and Texas, with an expected release date of September 2020.

    TANK TALK

    I had a chance to catch up with Blair Fox, head winemaker at Fess Parker to ask him how the wine was coming along.

    Blair Fox became head winemaker at Fess Parker Winery and Epiphany in 2005.
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      Mark Gmur

      Blair, tell us a little bit about “The Bear and Star”. Where you are getting the fruit for it? Are you concentrating on your best Pinot Noir sourcing in Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley, like you do with your other Pinots?

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      Blair Fox

      That’s correct, Mark. We’re looking for a bright, delicate profile, the inaugural 2018 vintage, will be a blend of 72% Santa Maria Valley and 28% Santa Rita Hills. I’m barrel aging in four-year-old neutral barrels to preserve the fruit character, making it a very easy drinking wine and versatile in a restaurant environment.

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      Mark Gmur

      Sounds like the kind of Pinot Noir our customers love to pour By-The-Glass! How much are you expecting to make of the first release?

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      Blair Fox

      We are producing 1000 cases to start. But don’t worry, can make more if you need it (laughs).

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      Mark Gmur

      So it sounds like we will try to get one or two customers on this wine to start as an exclusive. What do you personally like best about this wine?

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      Blair Fox

      It really has that delicate profile, but it’s also fairly complex. I think it over delivers for the price.

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      Mark Gmur

      Do tell more. Can you describe the wine for our buyers?

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      Blair Fox

      The nose shows black cherry, sassafras, forest floor, some baking spice, black tea, vanilla and sandalwood. Intriguing aromas, everything we would want to coax out of Santa Barbara Pinot.

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      Mark Gmur

      Ok, I’m embarrassed to ask, but what is sassafras?

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      Blair Fox

      It’s a type of tree.

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      Mark Gmur

      Wow. Winemakers must have to smell everything. I guess Sassafras is an American tree. I’m an Aussie, which probably explains why I have not heard of it. It’s like me asking you if you know who Skippy the bush kangaroo is. You just wouldn’t know, would you?

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      Blair Fox

      You’re right, I have no idea who Skippy is! (chuckles) But as a winemaker it sure helps being able to describe your wines well.

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      Mark Gmur

      How about on the palate?

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      Blair Fox

      I’d describe it as showing more black cherry, red plum, milk chocolate, cranberry, wild strawberry, some cinnamon, clove, nutmeg.

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      Mark Gmur

      Delish! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for making the wine for us, we really appreciate it.

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      Blair Fox

      You’re welcome. Best of luck!

    Not only will The Bear and Star Pinot Noir be exclusively made for hotels and restaurants, but it will be a wine made exclusively for The Mark Wine Group, honoring our decade-long partnership with the Fess Parker family. The wine will be offered at $13.50/bottle national average.

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