Ma­tri­arch of fam­ily win­ery

Los Angeles Times - - Obituaries - news.obits@latimes.com

Kath­leen Fet­zer, 88, the ma­tri­arch of one of Cal­i­for­nia’s most suc­cess­ful fam­ily winer­ies, died Sept. 15 at a pri­vate care home in Ukiah, a fam­ily spokesman said. The cause of death was not given.

Fet­zer and her hus­band, Bernard, founded Fet­zer Vine­yards in 1968 and pro­duced 2,500 cases of red ta­ble wine in the first year.

It quickly gained a rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity and be­came a leader in the or­ganic farm­ing move­ment. By 1992, when it was sold to the Brown-For­man liquor con­glom­er­ate, it was turn­ing out more than 2 mil­lion cases a year.

Born in Lu­verne, Minn., on Nov. 2, 1921, Fet­zer moved to the Bay Area dur­ing World War II.

Af­ter mar­ry­ing Bernard Fet­zer, a mer­chant ma­rine from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, in 1945, she moved with him to Ore­gon, where they built a lum­ber busi­ness.

In 1958 they pur­chased a run-down, 700-acre ranch in Men­do­cino County and, with their six chil­dren, be­gan grow­ing wine grapes and sell­ing them to am­a­teur wine­mak­ers.

The fam­ily grew to 11 chil­dren, all of whom played a role in es­tab­lish­ing and ex­pand­ing the wine busi­ness.

Af­ter Bernard Fet­zer died in 1981, Kath­leen and her chil­dren ran the win­ery. They pur­chased Val­ley Oaks Ranch in Ho­p­land, where they cre­ated a food and wine cen­ter and es­tab­lished an or­ganic gar­den that be­came a show­case for 1,200 va­ri­eties of fruits, veg­eta­bles, flow­ers and herbs.

Jill Jack­son, who turned her New Or­leans ra­dio and TV in­ter­view show into the “Jill Jack­son’s Hollywood” gos­sip col­umn that was syndi­cated by King Fea­tures to more than a thou­sand weekly and non-daily pub­li­ca­tions around the coun­try since the 1980s, died in Bev­erly Hills on Sept. 8 of com­pli­ca­tions from a fall. She was 97.

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