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The Passing of a Patriarch

Wine Scion: Fourth-generation vintner Edmund Mirassou

Edmund Mirassou dies at 78

By Steve Bjerklie

EDMUND A. Mirassou, who together with his late brother Norbert remade Santa Clara County's Mirassou Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in the U.S., into a leading producer of premium varietal wines, died July 24, 1996, in San Jose after a short illness. He was 78.

Edmund's and Norbert's father Peter, and the generations of Mirassous dating back to the winery's founding in 1854, had been content to supply bulk wines and juice to other winemakers. Beginning in the 1940s, Edmund and Norbert improved quality and put the family name on the bottles. They were the fourth generation to tend the family's Santa Clara County vineyards; the fifth generation, headed by Edmund's son Peter, manages the famed winery now.

Edmund and his brother, who died in 1992, introduced many innovations to winemaking and viticulture, including the state's first permanent vineyard irrigation system. They were also among the first winegrowers to recognize the potential of Monterey County as a locale for premium wine grapes. The Mirassou family also played a significant role in the county's prune business, introducing the now-popular French "petite d'Agen" fruit to prune-growers here. Edmund was named "Man of the Year" by Wines and Vines magazine in 1979.

Edmund was married to Mildred Katherine Mirassou, who died in September 1995, for 56 years. He is survived by sons Peter, James and Daniel; daughter Colleen Mirassou-Wells; and 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Services were held July 26 at the Carmelite Monastery in San Jose.

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From the August 1-7, 1996 issue of Metro

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