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John Muir Hanna

96 Year Old John Muir Hanna contemplates a poster of the California Quarter, featuring his grandfather, John Muir
96 year old John Muir Hanna contemplates a poster of the California Quarter, featuring his grandfather, John Muir
March 15, 1909 – December 1, 2007  
  • A longtime Napa resident and grapegrower who was the oldest surviving grandson of California’s most renowned naturalist and conservationist, John Muir. Young John remembered his grandfather as loving children and always having candy for him and his brothers. 
  • John was the second son of Muir's daughter Wanda Muir and Thomas Hanna.  The family lived in an historic adobe home next to the large Victorian home of John Muir. The adobe is now part of the John Muir National Historic Site and John was consulted by the National Park Service during its restoration. In the early 1970’s he planted the vineyard which is currently on the site.
  • John’s first visit to Yosemite was in 1916 when he was 7 years old. He and his older brother Strent, who was then 9, rode bareback and their parents and two younger brothers rode in a wagon. They traveled over Tioga Pass, north along Mono Lake through Bridgeport and then back west over Sonora Pass and back home. The next two summers the two boys spent their entire summers in Yosemite and Tuolumne Meadows with a foster brother who was fourteen. In 1919 the three boys rode from Martinez to Klamath Falls, Oregon, along the west Sierra foothills. They returned by a more westerly route and traveled through Napa on their way to the Benicia ferry.
  • John grew up farming and learned to ride and handle horses before he was five. By the age of twelve he was cultivating vineyards and orchards with a team of horses. He started buying cattle with the money he earned using his team on outside jobs and planned to finance his college education in that manner. He entered Stanford University in the fall of 1928 as a business major.
  • The Depression caused him to leave Stanford and he worked for a year with his father at the May Lundy mine near Mono Lake. He renewed his college education at Oregon State where he again played polo and also operated a riding academy with some friends. After two years he returned to California to help his father work the mine.
  • John began working at the American Smelting Company lead refinery near Crocket in 1937. He was the purchasing agent there until the plant closed and he retired in 1972. He married Virginia Young of Stockton in July of 1939 and they lived in Berkeley until their son Bill was born in 1945 and they moved to Albany. Virginia died in February of 1999.
  • John never lost his dream of having his own ranch so in 1950 he and Virginia bought a 100 acre ranch northwest of Napa. Though the ranch contained vineyard, it was not economical to farm so he raised cattle and prunes. He began converting the prunes to vineyard in 1969. After his “retirement” in 1972 he farmed full time and by 1977, when Bill and his family returned after serving in the Air Force, he was farming nearly 100 acres of vineyard. He remained active in the vineyard operation for another 20 years and helped with the family’s first commercial crush in 2000, under the the Muir-Hanna Vineyards family wine label.
  • John was one of the original drafters of the concept of preserving Napa’s agricultural lands which resulted in the Agricultural Preserve and was a strong proponent of the Winery Definition Ordinance. His foresight was instrumental in the formation of the Napa Valley Grape Growers where he was a founding director.
  • John will be remembered as story-teller extraordinaire. He loved to recount his many adventures and especially his time in Yosemite and Lundy. He is survived by his youngest brother Ross Hanna (and his wife Gladys) of Dixon, his son Bill Hanna (and his wife Claudia) of Napa, grandchildren Michael Hanna (and his wife Leonora) of St. Helena, Kristin Hanna Maher (and her husband Brad) of Napa, great-grandchildren Colton and Trenton Maher and Gino, Gemma, and Michele Hanna, and numerous nieces and nephews. The family requests that in lieu of flowers any donations in his name be made to the Yosemite Association, Yosemite Fund, Mono Lake Committee, Napa County Land Trust, or the environmental stewardship organization of your choice.
 



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