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Remembering Don Carano – Founder of Ferrari-Carano

We are saddened by the loss of Don Carano. He was the pioneering founder of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery and a wonderful, warm presence in our Dry Creek Valley community.

Don and his wife Rhonda Carano fell in love with Sonoma County in the 1970s, and the marvelous winery they built here has helped create countless more love affairs with the region since.

Our hearts go out to his family. We raise a glass in honor of his legacy.


October 4, 2017; (HEALDSBURG, Calif.)—Donald Louis Carano, founder of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, Eldorado Resorts Inc., and McDonald, Carano & Wilson, LLC law firm, passed away peacefully on October 3, 2017, surrounded by his family at his home in Reno, Nevada. He was 85.

A pioneer in the gaming, law and wine industries, Mr. Carano was also an entrepreneur, hotelier, restaurateur, husband and father. Mr. Carano is celebrated as a family-oriented, compassionate leader in his businesses and communities, which included both Reno, Nevada, and his wine country home in Geyserville, Alexander Valley, California. Ever passionate about Sonoma County, Mr. Carano said, “This is a very special way to live.”

A second-generation Italian-American, Don Carano was born in Reno, Nevada, on October 17, 1931. He completed an undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco, followed by two years as an officer in the United States Army. Returning to USF, Mr. Carano attended law school, graduated with honors and began his law practice in Reno. He was a founding member of the prestigious McDonald, Carano & Wilson law firm, and was proud to maintain an “of counsel” relationship with the firm until his passing. Mr. Carano’s legal career in Nevada made him an expert in corporate, business and gaming law, and he used his knowledge in those arenas to build his own hotel/casino in 1973, called the Eldorado Hotel and Casino.

In 1976, Mr. Carano hired Rhonda Bevilacqua to work at the Eldorado. She soon became his wife and lifelong partner in love and in business.

With the Eldorado’s emphasis on fine dining, Mr. Carano and his wife Rhonda fell in love with Sonoma County on visits to source fine California wines for their restaurants. His love for the land in Northern California, the vineyards and winemaking forever changed the course of his life.

After taking classes in winemaking and making small lots of their own wines from their home ranch in Alexander Valley, the Caranos purchased additional land in Sonoma County and founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in 1981. Today, Ferrari-Carano is a household name among wine lovers throughout the U.S. The family owns 24 sustainably-farmed estate ranches comprising over 1,900 vineyard acres in six appellations of Northern California. Mr. Carano explained, “After we bought the initial parcel, the bug of wine bit us, so we constantly over the years acquired different properties.” Throughout the brand’s growth, Mr. Carano made his home at the original Home Ranch in Alexander Valley as well as in Reno, Nevada.

In 2000, the Caranos acquired the boutique hotel Vintners Inn and the legendary John Ash & Co. Restaurant, expanding their vision for genuine hospitality and excellent food and wine. In 2008, they acquired Lazy Creek Vineyards, a winery known for their pinot noirs in Anderson Valley, after becoming enchanted with its rustic beauty that reminded them of their first visits to the North Bay, nearly 40 years earlier.

Whilst Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery grew, so too did the Caranos’ casino properties. When Mr. Carano opened Reno’s Eldorado Hotel and Casino, it had 282 rooms and was thought to be a risky investment. In 1992, Mr. Carano entered a joint venture with Circus Circus Enterprises and Mandalay Resorts/MGM, to create the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. Today, Mr. Carano leaves behind a thriving legacy, with 19 properties in 10 states. The Eldorado Resorts family employs over 14,000 team members.

Mr. Carano’s business ventures have always been anchored by his belief in teamwork and family values. Integrity and an eye toward posterity have guided him in growing sustainable brands people love. His community contributions have been recognized with many honors, including the Nevada Food and Beverage Directors Association Man-of-the-Year Award, the American Lung Association Distinguished Community Service Award, Hotelier of the Year Award, “Knight in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” by the Consul General of Italy, University of San Francisco Law School’s Alumnus of the Year, International Restaurant and Hospitality Rating Bureau’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the WIBC Gladys M. Banker Friendship Award, and more. In 2017, University of Nevada Reno recognized Mr. Carano as a Distinguished Nevadan. Mr. Carano was known as a pillar and longtime supporter of philanthropic endeavors throughout his life.

Just a few weeks ago, Don was walking the vineyards in Sonoma County and celebrated the “blessing of the grapes” with his Ferrari-Carano family, a sentimental tradition that kicks off the beginning of harvest every year. Mr. Carano always referred to Ferrari-Carano and the land as a special place; to the many who knew and respected him, Mr. Carano is remembered as a special man who touched their lives in a truly personal way.

Mr. Carano is survived by his wife Rhonda, five children, 11 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

To see a video of Don and Rhonda Carano telling their winery story, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPm0xs0fQSA

For press inquiries, high resolution images, or interview requests, contact Chelsea Kurnick at 213-985-1011 ext 5 or [email protected]. For more information about Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, please visit www.Ferrari-Carano.com.

About Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery

Founded initially as a small wine farm in 1981 by hospitality-industry pioneers Don and Rhonda Carano, the Ferrari-Carano family of brands now comprises the very best in hospitality, wine and food experiences in California’s North Bay region. The portfolio comprises destination wineries in Sonoma (Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery) and Mendocino (Lazy Creek Vineyards) counties; three wine production facilities; 24 estate-owned vineyards spanning more than 1,900 acres across three counties; the 44-room Vintners Inn and John Ash & Co. Restaurant; and Seasons of the Vineyard Tasting Bar & Boutique in Healdsburg. Ferrari-Carano is one of the region’s leaders, setting the bar for the highest standard in hospitality, wine quality and sustainability.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Chelsea Kurnick
McCue Marketing Communications
[email protected]
(213) 985-1011 ext 5

Cheryl McMillan
Director Marketing Communications
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery
[email protected]
(707) 433-6700

 


Wines for Your New Year’s Celebration

Wines for Your New Year’s Celebration

2016 new years eve party

In just a few days, we’ll count down the last minutes of 2015 and usher in 2016! The New Year brings a fresh start and a chance to celebrate and reflect with your nearest and dearest. To kick start the new year, here are some Dry Creek Valley wine pairings for the festivities. (more…)


Dry Creek Valley’s Early History – A Photo Essay

Dry Creek Valley’s Early History – A Photo Essay

Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley was settled by American families following the Gold Rush of 1849. By the 1880s, the area we now recognize as an AVA was home to nine wineries and almost 900 acres of vines were planted. A few of our present-day wineries have been making wine since the 19th century, and many of our current wineries make zinfandel from grapes planted more than 100 years ago. Here’s a photo essay looking back at the early days of a few of our pioneering winegrowers: Mauritson Wines, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Puccioni Vineyards, and Pedroncelli.

Mauritson Family 19th Century Photography old photograph california history vineyard grapes car

The Mauritson family, farming in Dry Creek Valley since 1868.

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Dry Creek Valley’s Four-Legged Friends

You need only to look at our Interactive Winery Map to see that many Dry Creek Valley wineries are pet-friendly. At many of our wineries, you’ll find dogs who live on site, helping welcome guests to the tasting room. A few wineries have cats for mascots instead. Where grapes grow, there’s often also fertile land for farm animals, including cows, sheep, goats and pigs. In our latest photo essay, we’re shining the spotlight on some of Dry Creek Valley’s cutest four legged friends.

@roadhousewinery Holly

This is Roadhouse Winery‘s helper Holly.

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Winery Spotlight: Passalacqua Winery

Winery Spotlight: Passalacqua Winery

passalacqua winery banner

Every winery in Dry Creek Valley has a unique story to tell, and Passalacqua Winery is no exception. Passalacqua boasts one of the first-ever females to make wine and own a winery in California after prohibition.

The winery is family-owned, making wine and growing grapes in California for five generations. They specialize in small-lot production, taking part every aspect of the winery from planting and growing the grapes to making the wine.

History of this winery dates all the way back to 1865, when Francesco Passalacqua emigrated from Genoa, first embarking on San Francisco, before finally settling in Healdsburg. Once here, he immediately started planting grapes. Thirty years after, he opened Fitch Mountain Cellars. Though the winery closed long ago, visitors to downtown Healdsburg can still spot the original house and a half an acre of grapes on Fitch Street!

passalacqua winery table wines

A turning point came in 1930, when Francesco’s widow, Rachel, purchased the Oliveto Wine Company in Downtown Healdsburg. In 1933, her daughter, Edith, opened Sonoma Wine Cellars in that building. Edith was one of the first women in California to operate a winery after prohibition. To this day, Edith’s original label graces every bottle of their Estate Zinfandel.

In 1979, the third generation of winemakers made their mark. Tom Passalacqua and his wife, Sandi purchased a 300-acre ranch off of Mill Creek Road, at Dry Creek Valley’s southern tip. They planted cabernet sauvignon there.

In 2000, Tom and Sandi’s son, Jason, began making wine, inspired by his family’s rich history. In 2004, their current property on Lambert Bridge Road opened as what we know today as Passalacqua Winery. The winery includes a tasting room showcasing Zinfandel from select Dry Creek Valley vineyards and cabernet sauvignon from the family’s TR Passalacqua Vineyard.

Today, Jason Passalacqua continues his family tradition with pride. He involves his children (the fifth generation) in the business early on. Also, in continuing with the tradition of women winemakers, they hired Jessica Boone Bilbro as a winemaker in 2012! Check out their vineyard located in the heart of Dry Creek Valley and taste their exquisite 2013 Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel while sitting outside and taking in mesmerizing vineyard views. 

passalacqua winery view


Fall in love with Dry Creek Valley – an autumn photo essay

Most months, we find ourselves saying, “This is the most beautiful time of year in Dry Creek Valley!” This November, we really mean it. Whether you are at Bella Wine Caves, looking out on the valley floor from their Lily Hill Vineyard, or across the valley at Ferrari-Carano‘s deck, gazing at Lily Hill, the tapestry of fall colors gives the East Coast a run for its money! Did we mention there’s world class wine to taste, too?

Here’s a series of recent glimpses of Dry Creek Valley that will have you falling in love.

The view from Sbragia Family Winery's patio.

The view from Sbragia Family Winery‘s patio.

Old Vine Zinfandel at Kokomo Winery

Old Vine Zinfandel at Kokomo Winery

Between the rows at Collier Falls Winery

Between the rows at Collier Falls Winery

Fall leaves right outside Selby Winery's Healdsburg tasting room

Fall leaves right outside Selby Winery‘s Healdsburg tasting room

Newborn piglets at DaVero Farms and Winery

Newborn piglets at DaVero Farms and Winery

Leaves after a rain at Bella Wine Cave's Lily Hill Vineyard

Leaves after a rain at Bella Wine Cave’s Lily Hill Vineyard

Rainbow after the rain at Kokomo Winery

Rainbow after the rain at Kokomo Winery

View of Bella's Lily Hill Vineyard from Ferrari-Carano Winery

View of Bella’s Lily Hill Vineyard from Ferrari-Carano Winery


Harvest Progress Report – A Photo Essay

It’s been a fast-progressing harvest season in Dry Creek Valley this year. Check out photos of our wineries getting into the thick of it. Grapes for sparkling wines came in first, followed by sauvignon blanc. Even in our 16 mile long appellation, location and microclimate means that grapes ripen at different rates. For more detailed information about Dry Creek Valley’s 2015 Harvest, check out our Harvest page. To keep in touch with everything that’s happening in Sonoma County, use and follow the hashtag #SCHarvest on your favorite social media channels.

Lambert Bridge Winery interns in the vineyard

Lambert Bridge Winery interns in the vineyard

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Online Tasting on August 25: Sustainability in Dry Creek Valley

Online Tasting on August 25: Sustainability in Dry Creek Valley

On Tuesday August 25, 2015 from 5pm-6pm PST, join us on Ustream for an online virtual tasting about Dry Creek Valley’s commitment to sustainable farming and winemaking. We’ll be tasting three wines from wineries committed to gentle practices that preserve our invaluable land. The wines are–of course–delicious, too.

winemakers-collage

Evan LaNouette, Brad Longton, Gio Martorana

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Harvest 2015 Gets Started in Dry Creek Valley: A photo essay

Harvest 2015 Gets Started in Dry Creek Valley: A photo essay

Our winegrowers are expecting the 2015 winegrape harvest to yield exceptional quality fruit in smaller quantities than the last three vintages, which were larger than normal throughout most of the state of California. Picking began earlier than usual this year, with David Coffaro Estate and Amista Vineyards harvesting grapes for their sparkling wines on July 29 and August 3, respectively. In 2014, Amista Vineyards harvested for their blanc de blanc two days later on August 5. For still wines, white grapes are rapidly becoming ripe for picking. Preston Farm and Winery began harvesting sauvignon blanc on Tuesday, August 11. Montse Reece, winemaker for Pedroncelli Winery, says, “We expect to begin harvest with our sauvignon blanc the week of August 17. This is within a few days of last year’s harvest.”

Check out the first harvest photos below! Keep up with the latest by following Sonoma County’s hashtag #SCHarvest on social media. You can find Dry Creek Valley on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook daily.

Ashley Herzberg and harvest crew at Amista Vineyards bringing in chardonay for their Sparkling Blanc de Blanc. Photo by John Compisi

Ashley Herzberg and harvest crew at Amista Vineyards bringing in chardonay for their Sparkling Blanc de Blanc. Photo by John Compisi

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Restoring the Habitat at Dry Creek: A Labor of Love

Dry Creek Sustainability

 

Dry Creek Valley is home to an important creek, which is now undergoing a vital restoration with help from several wineries providing refuge in the creek for young Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. Since 2012, wineries with properties bordering Dry Creek and its tributaries have partnered with The Sonoma County Water Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to restore six beautiful miles of habitat.

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