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A family tradition for over 150 years

The Deaver family was not immune to the pull of the West and the promise of gold. In September of 1853 Jacob Clark Deaver and his Uncle made complete their journey to California from Missouri. By 1855, Jacob made his way from the San Joaquin valley to Volcano and by 1859 had settled in the Shenandoah Valley with his father Jason McFarland Deaver. Jason purchased 160 acres in 1868, the first Deaver to own land in the Shenandoah Valley.

Jacob Clark Deaver married Matilda Jane French on November 8, 1871 in Amador County and together they had 12 children – one of which was Grover Cleveland. Grover, born October 21, 1889, eventually married Amy Elizabeth McGrew. They had 3 children; Willard Clark, Kenneth Isaac and Ruth Elizabeth. Unfortunately, Grover, a teacher, passed away suddenly due to a heart attack on December 6, 1926 leaving Elizabeth, another teacher, with 3 young children. It was Elizabeth’s second marriage to Joseph Davis in 1927, which combined two of Amador County’s oldest families.

In 1848 young John James Davis began his journey across the plains to California from Ripley County, Indiana. In the midst of his journey, he stopped in Iowa to learn the cooper trade before continuing his journey to California. By 1852, John James had completed his journey and settled in Placerville. The first few years that John James (known as JJ) was in California were marked by mining and the promise of gold and cooperage. In 1854, JJ planted his first vines, Mission grapes. By1869 he had his own cooper shop, own vineyards, produced limited quantities of wine - marking some of the first documentation of Davis grapes in the area. According to family stories, by 1870 JJ had 117 acres; 6 acres of his original Mission grapes still remain in production in the Deaver family today. Following the advice of his good friend Uhlinger, he began to plant Zinfandel.

The third son of JJ and Mary was born in 1873.  Joseph, like his father, was a farmer working the land that he loved. Story goes that when Joseph was 16 he continued to plant zinfandel grapes, expanding their acreage. When Joseph married Amy Elizabeth McGrew, his second marriage, he merged two of the original families in Amador County. Joseph (Joe) and Elizabeth had one child, Mary Eleanor, who still resides in Amador County. Together they raised Elizabeth’s children from her previous marriage, Willard, Kenneth and Ruth.
All children in the Davis household helped Joe tend to the family land; growing what was necessary for survival while also growing grapes. The Davis family, along with being known for cooperage and having some of the first grapes, were well known for their fruits and the great care that went into their exceptional crops.

Kenneth Isaac Deaver, born September 17, 1919, was a rancher from the beginning. He helped tend to the family’s ranch, which included cattle, sheep, pigs, peaches, apricots, plums, almonds, walnuts, and grapes. Growing up and throughout his life, one just had to speak to Ken to know the passion he had for farming and the care that he put into each one of his crops. In 1947, he married Barbara Dyer ‘Bobbie’ as she became known, his sister’s roommate in college. Following their marriage, the couple moved to Ken’s childhood home where she helped nurture the family’s farm. Since the first plantings, the Davis-Deaver farm sold their grapes to home winemakers around the area. Ken continued that tradition as he tended each day to the 200 acres that were left to him by Joe Davis.

In 1968 Sutter Home purchased several tons of Zinfandel grapes from Ken Deaver and made a wine that caught the eye of many wine enthusiasts. This marked the beginning of selling grapes to commercial wineries.

In 1986, Ken Deaver bottled his first Zinfandel with the trademark Deaver label. Following this bottling, Ken began his dream of opening a Tasting Room where guests would be able to taste the fruits of his labor. At the same time, his wife Bobbie had a dream of her own; she wanted to start a Bed and Breakfast. She wanted a place for people to come and relax, enjoy good wine and great conversation. Both buildings were under construction at the same time when tragedy struck the family. On January 18, 1989 Ken Deaver passed away due to a heart attack. Though Ken was gone, his dream continued to persevere and the tasting room opened in 1990. Amador Harvest Inn, Bobbie’s dream, opened soon after.

Following his father’s death in 1989, Ken took over the ranching so that his mother could continue to pursue her dream. Bobbie continued to work and be a part of the Deaver Ranch and the Amador Harvest Inn until she passed away on March 10, 2009. She enjoyed chatting with customers and visitors to both the Inn and the Tasting Room; regaling them with stories and hearing about their lives. She was a lively lady who could surprise you with tales of motorcycles and general mischief. In addition, she enjoyed cooking for guests as well as her grandchildren.

Since the death of Bobbie, the family continues to work to support the dreams of Ken and Bobbie Deaver and preserve the extended family history in the area. To this day, Ken continues to oversee the ranching and wine making aspect of the business while his sisters tend to the Bed and Breakfast and the Tasting Room. As the grandchildren (9 in all) grow older, the place that they visited on weekends and holidays becomes a place of intrigue, and a possible next step.


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