We are so pleased to announce the Grand Marshalls of our 2023 Irish Day parade, John & Gail Kautz, owners and founders of Ironstone Vineyards & Amphitheatre.

Gail’s grandfather purchased the Murphys property that is now the home of Ironstone Vineyards back in 1948 from the Schwoerer family and used it mainly for cattle grazing and apple orchards.  Those apples became State Fair Gold Medal winners, and trees from those original cuttings can be found as far away as Washington, DC today.

But John & Gail had bigger ideas for the property and began to imagine a plan with caves, a wedding venue, an outdoor amphitheater, a museum celebrating the area’s history, and a winery.  They dreamed of creating a beautiful event setting to attract folks from all over to their beloved gold country property.  Construction began in 1989, and the development encouraged other wineries to invest here and helped make Murphys the winery & tourist destination that it is today.

You can see evidence of the Kautz family’s love of history and care for the environment throughout the property.  Timber from an old barn was used to build their home, rocks blasted from the hillside were used to construct the 7-story tall winery and the amphitheater, and they have implemented many sustainable growing practices.  The Ironstone property is famous for its fantastic grounds and extensive bulbs, particularly those daffodils!  Daffodils were selected for the most practical of reasons.  John and Gail liked them, and the gophers didn’t eat them.  Those plantings now attract visitors from February through April, and Ironstone has hosted Daffodil Society gatherings, exhibitions, and competitions on numerous occasions.

The Heritage Museum houses the world’s largest piece of crystalline gold and many specimens of Gold Country history.  You’ll also find examples of John’s newest interest, meteorites.  John says he’s never been lucky enough to find one himself, but Gail says, “you wouldn’t likely recognize one if you did.”

Photo: Ironstone Vineyards

In addition to the concerts held in the Amphitheater each year, several annual events attract visitors to the winery and benefit organizations that John and Gail feel passionate about, including the Spring Obsession Art Show (coming on March 18th) and the Concours d’Elegance (planned for September 24th) which attracts entries on a par with those at Pebble Beach.  Proceeds from the Concours d’Elegance benefit central and northern California youth in agriculture programs, notably the Future Farmers of America, 4H, and the County Fair Scholarship Program.

John and Gail have served on many state and local boards and commissions, including the California Tourism Commission and the Calaveras Big Trees Association, respectively, among others.

The introduction of a book about the Kautz family is coming later this month. It was written by the late historian Kevin Starr. In addition to his 12 books, Mr. Starr was the California State Librarian for many years.

Ironstone Vineyards fall color | Lisa BoultonJohn and Gail invite you to the winery on March 26th, 2023, to enjoy the entertainment, sip some wine, see the book, and maybe even purchase a copy for your own library.

We are privileged to have John and Gail Kautz serve as the 2023 Murphys Irish Day Parade Grand Marshals and thank them for their vision and valued service to Murphys and the Gold Country.  Join us for Murphys Irish Day on March 18th, 2023 at 11 am to cheer on the Kautzs and all the other parade entries.  The Kautz family & Ironstone Vineyards partners with the Murphys Business Association to provide a free shuttle from the Ironstone property to downtown Murphys from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm on Irish Day to allow you to take advantage of the spacious free parking at the winery and give you a chance to enjoy the beautiful facility that they have created.