Posted on August 17, 2018
In Remembrance of John MacCready
Founding Member, National Rhone Rangers
Founder, Sierra Vista Winery, El Dorado Wine Region, CA
Born January 26,1932 - Passed June 24, 2018
Placerville, El Dorado County, CA (August 7, 2018)
With the passing of John MacCready, founder of Sierra Vista Winery in Placerville, El Dorado Winery Association (EDWA) acknowledges his substantial contributions to the region’s wine industry.
As one of a very few modern-era grape growers and winemakers in El Dorado County in the early 70’s, John MacCready was a tireless promoter of the county as a promising wine growing region. His Sierra Vista Winery founded in 1977 was one of the first three El Dorado wineries in the modern wine business and his vineyard planted in 1974 was in rarified company.
In the early 1970’s in El Dorado county there was no wine business and the region’s long-time crop of pears was in decline. John along with fellow visionaries, Greg Boeger of Boeger Vineyards and Dick Bush of Madrona Vineyards worked with county and state Ag commissions and UC Davis to define growing regions, establish specific winegrowing districts, and experiment to find suitable grape varietals. Many dinners and wine tastings ensued with John and Barbara MacCready, Greg and Susan Boeger and Dick and Leslie Bush learning all they could about wine.
Dick Bush explains, “No one knew about the region, yet we knew we had potential because we had the acreage, the farming history, and we had the advantage of great land prices. There was no reason there couldn’t be an industry here.” The three served as non-official consultants to a growing cadre of vintners coming to the region and were instrumental in establishing the El Dorado Winery Association in 1988, the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association in 1986 and in 1983 the naming of El Dorado County an American Viticulture Area.
According to Greg Boeger, John’s first love was Pleasant Valley, a small district within El Dorado county where he established his vineyards and winery. John was resolute in the potential of Rhone grape varieties in the district, then again, he was a tireless devotee of Rhone varieties throughout the county and California. In the fall of 1997 along with a small band of Rhone varietal producers including John, a tasting of Rhone varietals was held in San Francisco. The group ultimately formed the Rhone Rangers and John was elected founding president. Thriving today, the Rhone Rangers includes over 100 winery and grower members.
“John was a good friend, true pioneer of Rhone varietals, and just all around great guy! John was one of the original founders of the Rhone Rangers, which started in the late ’80’s as a rag tag group of like minded lovers of all things Rhone. After some initial impacts in the market place in San Francisco, Berkeley, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, the group kind of devolved as there was no leader or structure to the organization (in fact organization would have been an oxymoron!). John lead the effort to revive the Rhone Rangers in the early ’90’s as a true promotional organization with structure, membership charter, dues etc…not sure if it would have happened in the same impactful way without him. Cheers to John!” stated Bob Lindquist, Rhone Rangers Founder and Winemaker, Qupé Winery.
A native Californian, John was a graduate of the University of New Mexico and finished his electrical engineering doctoral program at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. John and his wife, Barbara decided that El Dorado county would be an ideal place to raise their two daughters. While waiting for their winery, Sierra Vista Winery, to grow big enough to support his family, John commuted to Sacramento where he taught engineering at CSUS. Dick Bush observed, “As an engineer John had a practical and determined approach to everything and with that, was always looking for the betterment of our wine community.”
John is survived by his wife of 57 years, Barbara, two daughters, Lynette Canaparo and Michelle Sfara and 3 grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions may be made to support colon cancer research at UCSF in John’s name by going to:Click on “Direct your gift to a specific area” select “Other” and type B3193.
For additional information, please contact:
Lee Hodo, El Dorado Winery Association