August 2012 Fla

Habitat Hero

photos by John Curley

Tim Thornhill at Parducci Vineyards.
A visit to Parducci Winery is inspirational. Houston native Tim Thornhill’s past experiences have led him to redesign a water-wasting, biologically inefficient property into a natural place. His water reclamation project has conserved water and saved money: Five million gallons are recycled annually. His waterfalls are both esthetically pleasing while also serving to oxygenate reclaimed winery waste water. His man-made wetland is an ecosystem that mimics the Everglades, using plants as a “green filter,” constructively cleaning water for use in the vineyards as well as for Parducci’s certified wildlife habitat.

This waterfall oxygenates reclaimed winery waste water for use in vineyard irrigation.
Thirteen years ago, Thornhill sat down and wrote a list of what he would regret if not accomplished in his lifetime. He traveled from Texas to Florida to New York, building resorts, botanic gardens and theme parks. Restoration projects and environmental landscaping was a specialty. But what did he really want to do? And where did he want to end up living?

Not wanting to leave his family behind in Texas and eager to pioneer for the extended family and put down new roots, Thornhill set his sights on Mendocino, California. “There were about 300 available properties in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino. I fell in love with the Home Ranch [Parducci’s present location]. I was looking for a community, and I found it here: This is where I could put down deep roots.”

The wetlands at Parducci Vineyards—designed by co-owner Tim Thornhill—act as a natural filter that trap pollutants and reduce flooding and soil erosion.
Thornhill can currently boast of eight family members working at the winery and 20 family members within an hour of one other.

“I don’t believe in the word can’t and have known that about myself since I was five years old,” he insists. “Couldn’t might mean shouldn’t, but later you prove them all wrong.”

Thornhill and his brother Tom purchased Parducci Wine Cellars (and its parent, the Mendocino Wine Company) in May 2004. “We turned one of America’s oldest wineries into one of America’s greenest.”

Armed with a Ph.D.D.—post-hole digging degree—Thornhill was inspired by the property as much as the quality of the wines. “My job was to learn, lead, serve and continue to inspire.”

The Varietal as Hero

Surrounded by Parducci wines with their new look—the varietal as hero and a nod to small-lot blends and sustainability—is farm-to-table pizza made for us exclusively by Olan and Lia Cox of Mendough’s Wood Fire, Mendocino chefs and caterers. 

Small lot-fermenters, one-ton macrobins and winemaking that starts in in the vineyards: The message is green, the words say small lot and sustainability and the big picture is not just about the winery’s vineyard sites but about the entire habitat. “We knew we had a great quality product,” says David Simpson, National Sales Manager for the Mendocino Wine Company. “But we also discovered that the perception of our packaging did not match the quality of the wine. The new label reflects who we are and what we produce.”


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