John Muir Hanna
96 year old John Muir Hanna contemplates a poster of the California Quarter,
featuring his grandfather, John Muir
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
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
- For more information, see: