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Seabiscuit and Parducci to Kick-off Mendocino County Wine & Mushroom Festival

October 12, 2011

Ranked Among Top 6 Food Festivals in the Nation by Oprah.com

Willits, California is centrally located to the majestic Redwoods, the gorgeous Mendocino Coast, and California’s Greenest Wine Region, with over 60 boutique and well known wineries. Unspoiled, a delightful destination! Every fall, Mendocino County has its 10-day Wine & Mushroom Festival with everything from mushroom dinners, wine and food pairing workshops, mushroom exhibits, guided mushroom foraging walks and much more, yielding it one of top six food festivals in the nation by Oprah.com.

On Friday, November 4, 2011 Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation and Mendocino Wine Co., in cooperation with Visit Mendocino County, Inc.(www.visitmendocino.com) are proud to present two fabulous events to kick off the annual festival.  Seabiscuit, wine and mushroom aficionados will enjoy a docent-led walking tour of historic Ridgewood Ranch-Home of the legendary racehorse, followed by reception at Parducci Wine Cellars, (www.parducci.com) Mendocino County’s oldest and greenest winery. (For more information or to reserve visit www.seabiscuitheritage.org)

Parducci with deep roots and legendary wines, is committed to sustainable winegrowing practices that yield top quality grapes and wines while protecting the environment supporting the community and local farmers. Guests will enjoy wine tasting and mushroom hors’ d’oeuvres, featuring Parducci Pinot Noir, Paul Dolan Pinot Noir Organically Grown and Paul Dolan Filigreen Pinot Noir Bio-dynamically Grown wines, plus True Grit Petite Syrah. Carriage rides by Lynette Rose reminiscent of yesteryear will round out the evening (weather permitting), as well as fine art by Priscilla Gaston, a book signing by local author Roni McFadden. Endorsed by Laura Hillenbrand, McFadden published an inspirational children’s book featuring a Seabiscuit descendant overcoming incredible odds when orphaned at four days of age.

Six Celebrity Mushroom Cook-off Judges are expected guests of honor: Sue Elliott from Popular Plates, Katie Arnold Ratliffe from O’, The Oprah Magazine, Sara Schneider from Sunset Magazine, Gibson Thomas from Edible Marin & Wine Country, Elizabeth Turner from Vegetarian Times and Diane Werner from Taste of Home, a Reader’s Digest Association publication. Proceeds from this special event are in support of ongoing historic preservation efforts by the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, such as the restoration of the historic Carriage house at Ridgewood Ranch.

Ridgewood is historically unique in its association with the renowned racehorse Seabiscuit, who lived here during a period of recuperation from injury in 1939 and enjoyed his retirement at the ranch from 1940-47. Although racehorse owner Charles Howard purchased the 16,000 acre ranch in 1921 as a cattle ranch and country home, he transformed it into a thoroughbred facility unparalleled in the state. That the ranch became home and final resting place of Seabiscuit makes it unique. That so many of Howard’s ranch buildings still stand – testimony to horse racing’s heyday of the 1930’s and 1940’s – adds to Ridgewood’s historical significance.

More than twenty buildings survive from Seabiscuit and ranch owner Charles Howard’s legacy. He constructed most of the buildings for his 1930s – 40s Thoroughbred operation. Seabiscuit’s specially constructed stud barn serves as a centerpiece and has been newly restored in 2004 thanks to the generosity of the Rotary Club of Willits, California. A few structures utilized by Howard date back to entrepreneur William Van Arsdale. Besides his 1905 Craftsman home and Carriage House, which may be architecturally significant, Van Arsdale’s most important contribution to Ridgewood Ranch was an elaborate water system and a hydroelectric powerhouse.

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