In December 1987 Eli’s father, Fess Parker, purchased a ranch property on Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos, California. The location and timing of the purchase made entering in to the wine business all but a foregone conclusion and proved to be a turning point in the professional life of Eli Parker. What began, as a curiosity would become a lifelong vocation as his innate talent for winemaking came to light. During the winery’s fledgling years Eli spent the majority of his time in the vineyard where he learned the farming side of the business. Eli worked the 1987 harvest in the cellar at what was then Ken Brown’s Byron Winery and he augmented his practical experience with courses at UC Davis. From 1989 to 1993 Eli served as an assistant winemaker before beginning a three-year apprenticeship with critically acclaimed winemaker, Jed Steele. As the winery’s consulting enologist Jed was a major influence on Eli as he honed his craft and developed his signature style. Eli’s first harvest as Head Winemaker was in 1996 and he continued in that role until 2005. In 2006 Eli was named Andre Tchelistcheff Wine Maker of the Year.
Over the years as the family business has grown and diversified Eli has taken on an ever-expanding role and is now overseeing all the various entities in his role as Chief Executive Officer. Most recently he oversaw the 2012 renovation of the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn and the 2013 construction and re-launch of the Epiphany Tasting Room in Los Olivos, CA.
Eli still very much enjoys the winemaking process and to that end he and his sister, Ashley, recently developed a sparkling wine called Fesstivity which focuses on grapes grown in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Fesstivity wines can be found at The Bubble Shack in Los Olivos.