Promise of Paradise Episode 23: John Scharffenberger

Apr 18, 2019

  This is Kate Magruder with Promise of Paradise, Back to the Land oral histories of Mendocino County.  Today we’ll be hearing from John Scharffenberger of Philo whose name has become synonymous with world famous sparkling wine and fine chocolate.  But in the early 1970s, John was just one of hundreds of young people who were drawn to Mendocino County for the wide open opportunities it offered.  

For John, the place turned out to be a perfect match to his own ethos:

a desire to work the land in collaboration with others, building and growing and producing things that make life more fun. Those seeds were planted early in life as John grew up free range with his five siblings in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He developed a keen sense of curiosity and play on a rare expanse of rural land in Los Angeles County. His passion was building dams and forts and witnessing the miracle of nature.



John Scharffenberger at Eaglepoint Ranch (above Talmage) his first year in Mendocino County, 1974.
Credit John Scharffenberger
John Scharffenberger helping crush grapes from Eaglepoint Ranch, first harvest, 1978
Credit John Scharffenberger
John Scharffenberger in consultation with Ghanaian cacao farmers, as part of the Ghana Flavor Project, a Gates Foundation project John designed to help the farmers get better prices for their cacao. 2011. Accra, Ghana
Credit Ghana Flavor Project / Gates Foundation
John Scharffenberger's walled garden with vegetables and horticultural collection, at his home in Philo, CA. 2016.
Credit John Scharffenberger