Guinness McFadden grew up in the upper west side of New York City, the oldest of five. In the fall of 1956 he turned down an Ivy League scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame, as any good Irish Catholic would do. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and earned a varsity letter on the Notre Dame wrestling team.
Immediately after graduation, Guinness joined the United States Navy where he stayed for nine years. He developed his love for wine while on tour in the Mediterranean. In 1965 he volunteered to fill the position of a fallen river boat captain in Vietnam earning a Bronze Star, while becoming fluent in Vietnamese. To repay his bravery, Guinness was given the opportunity to serve as an admiral’s aide in Lisbon. He spent the last four years of his naval career in Portugal, where he also spoke the native tongue.
In 1969 he moved back to the states and enrolled in Stanford Business School. After a brief time at Stanford, he realized his presence in world renowned business classes was akin to a three year old learning how to hit a baseball from Ted Williams. So he made room for someone else who could use the space at the business school and struck out looking for a soft place to land. Thirty seven years ago he found it in Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California.
When Guinness began planting grapes in Potter Valley there were two small vineyards, each no bigger than 15 acres. Today, McFadden Vineyard boasts some of the oldest vines of the nearly 1,500 acres of vineyard in Potter Valley. Over the years, McFadden Vineyards’ grapes have represented a significant portion of many award winning wines in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. After witnessing this phenomenon year in and year out, Guinness decided to set aside a portion of the harvest to make his own wine. In 2003, McFadden Vineyard bottled 300 cases of Pinot Gris that was very well received locally and has now bottled 3,000 cases from its 2006 crop.
Guinness’ unwavering dedication to organic farming has continued for 37 years. Organic farms sustain diverse ecosystems with higher populations of plants, insects and animals that encourage healthy, well balanced vineyards. To supplement his eco-friendly vision of sustainable agriculture, Guinness built a hydro-electric power plant in 1983, capable of powering 100 homes and in 2005 he installed solar panels to make the farm completely energy sufficient.
Guinness McFadden started with a simple dream: to leave the ground better than he found it. Raising five children only strengthened his resolve to use alternatives to harmful pesticides and chemicals. He is a visionary, a respected member of his community, and a pioneer in the Mendocino organic movement.
Guinness McFadden Jr.