By Michelle Locke
HEALDSBURG, Calif. — Sometimes visitors to MacMurray Ranch, the 1,500-acre spread owned by movie and TV actor Fred MacMurray for a half-century, want to know: Where’s the heliport? Where’s the screening room?
Kate MacMurray, Fred’s daughter, just smiles.
“This was our home,” she explains.
What visitors will find at the ranch is a place that’s not much different than when the MacMurray family lived there, right down to the rocking chair with the wide flat arms just right for holding the actor’s drink as he sat reading the paper in the evening.
MacMurray and his wife, actress June Haver, bought the ranch in 1941 from the Porter family, pioneers who established the farmstead in the 1850s. The MacMurrays used it for diversified farming during World War II and later raised cattle.
The MacMurray Ranch is now owned by the Gallo wine family and open to the public only during the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend in August, but it’s one of several California wineries with celebrity connections.
The MacMurray family sold the ranch to the Gallos in 1996, a few years after Fred MacMurray’s death, and the land now has 425 acres of vines, mostly pinot noir grapes which go into Gallo’s MacMurray Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir. The ranch also supplies grapes for the MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris, a zippy white wine.
Here are more wineries that could leave you with stars in your eyes.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Part resort, part winery, this property in Sonoma County has a lot of extras including a swimming pool, cabanas equipped with showers for rent, bocce courts and two places to eat. These days, wines from the director of such classics as “The Godfather” are well-established, including the winery’s the popular Diamond Collection. His film career is on display here as well with the Movie Gallery featuring lots of memorabilia.
300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, Calif.; www.franciscoppolawinery.com or 1-707-857-1400. Wine park open daily 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Tasting fees range from free for a pour of the everyday red and white to $15.
Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard
This winery in California’s Central Coast wine growing region has two claims to celebrity fame. It was founded by the late Fess Parker, star of the “Davy Crockett” and “Daniel Boone” TV series and was also featured in the 2004 wine road trip movie “Sideways.”
6200 Foxen Canyon Road, Los Olivos, Calif., www.fessparkerwines.com or 1-800-841-1104. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tasting fees start at $12 per person.
Raymond Burr Vineyards
The star of TV’s “Perry Mason” and “Ironside” also had a passion for wine, which is still celebrated at this small winery in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley.
8339 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, Calif., raymondburrvineyards.com/ or 1-707-433-4365. Open daily 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.
IF YOU GO
Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Aug. 30-Sept. 1. Tickets $85-$500 depending on how many events included. Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch is $165 per person, general admission, or $195 per person for the grand reserve tour, which includes access to additional limited release wines and preferred seating. Tickets: www.sonomawinecountryweekend.com.