It was, sadly, not the news I expected to hear at my first of many South By Southwest events in Austin last week: the news of Fess Parker's passing. For a number of us in the wine industry, Fess was a pioneer in modern day wine and hospitality in Southern California. Generous with his time, devoted to his wife, and a firm believer in Santa Barbara's claim to be the American Riviera. Anyone with a few more years behind them also had the good fortune to have enjoyed growing up with Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone (both television roles played so memorably and warmly by Fess) as a TV dad.
Cork & Co., Austin. PHOTO: ANTHONY HEAD
So, as the sun streamed over Austin, Winemaker Karl Wente and I toasted Fess' memory and his legacy at Cork & Co. with glasses of Wente's 08 Pinot Grigio. Outside, on Congress Avenue, the city of Austin—known as the Live Music Capital of the World—was living up to that moniker. While always a lively place, Austin had tripled or probably quadrupled its musical output with bands from all over the world filling every venue imaginable for SXSW. 200,000 people poured into the city, and spilled out onto the streets, hearing tomorrow's music today.
Music and wine, and the sharing of both with a good friend—that's the stuff of life. And because Fess embraced all that, he will be sorely missed.
Anthony Head is Texas Editor for THE TASTING PANEL magazine. Read more on his website: