John Parrott died in 1884 and shortly thereafter his wife, Abby, bought an 800-acre property for Tiburcio just northwest of St. Helena. At the time the property was a barren waste of rock and bushes, though a century earlier it had supported a large encampment of Native Americans, the people who came to be called the wappo by Spanish settlers.
Tiburcio Parrott was born in Mazatlan, Mexico, in 1840. His mother, a native of Mazatlan, was the mistress of his father, John Parrott, who was U.S. Consul in Mazatlan. Tiburcio was brought to the United States at the age of eleven to complete his education. He later studied at Stoneyhurst College in England. In 1862, after a short stint on Wall Street, New York, Tiburcio moved to San Francisco and started working for his father.
Tiburcio had an interest in the Rattlesnake Quicksilver Mining Company in Lake County. His mining interests brought Tiburcio frequently through the Napa Valley.
Tiburcio soon became close friends with his neighbors, the Beringers, and through them, was introduced to Albert Schroepfer, the architect. Schroepfer had built the Niebaum mansion at Inglenook and the Rhine house for the Beringers. He had also designed the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.
Though his step-mother kept title to the property, perhaps doubting Tiburcios financial judgment, Tiburcio began to build a palatial residence of Schroepfer's design that he named Miravalle, literally meaning "look valley." From fourth floor tower room or from the cupola two levels above Tiburcio, indeed, had a panoramic view of the Napa Valley.
The home would be bigger than both the Niebaum and the Beringer residences, with its wraparound verandas, conservatory, and grand tower. In the massive front double doors he put exquisite stained glass cupids and in the over-door glass he put his initials. On the first landing of his wide staircase he put the famous Parrot window, which later in the 1980s, Lorimar, in its TV production of Falcon Crest, insisted on calling a falcon.
Tiburcio also built a barn of Eastlake architecture and finished the inside with polished wood, ornate cast iron divisions for stalls, and iron feed boxes. He planted vineyard and began tunneling into the nearest hill for a wine cellar. He planted 5,000 olive trees and 1,000 citrus and planted 5,000 roses, some 250 different varieties.
Tiburcio developed a close friendship with Fredrick and Jacob Beringer. He called them los hermanos. The humor of this Spanish reference to the German brothers was not lost on the St. Helena natives. Los Hermanos stuck, and later became a brand name for the Beringer winery.
In 1981, Lorimar Studios of Hollywood approached Robbins with an offer to film a television series at Miravalle about the Napa Valley, to be entitled “Vintage Years’. The pilot was a success and the series was begun, renamed Falcon Crest. The Victorian home of Tiburcio Parrott soon became one of the most famous residences in the world.
A bachelor much of his life, Tiburcio Parrott had a delightfully earthy side to his personality. When Tiburcio came into St. Helena to go to the hardware store, bank and post office, he was in the habit of finishing off his trip to town with a visit to the Stone Bridge Bordello. Tiburcio had a servant with an English hunting horn riding on the platform of his surrey. When they were in the middle of Pope Street about half way to the bordello, Tiburcio had the servant blow the horn to alert the girls that Tiburcio was on his way. (Tiburcio is in his "coaching outfit".)
In 1894, just ten years after Miravalle began, Tiburcio died. His death was attributed to cancer of the stomach. His Miravalle would lie empty, but well preserved for the next seventy years.
After the sudden death of Tiburcio and the settlement of the estate, neither the house nor the 800 acres were used by the Parrott family between 1896 and 1938.
Eventually the property was purchased by Mike Robbins in 1974. Robbins, after a successful career in real estate, came to the Napa Valley to pursue a new passion. He bought a Victorian on St. Helena Highway near Deer Park Road and constructed a small winery which became Spring Mountain Vineyards. Soon Robbins outgrew this first location and discovered the wonderful Parrot estate.
After acquiring Miravalle, Robbins restored the Victorian residence and built a 17,000 square foot winery at the site of Tiburcios wine cave and small winery. Though his primary vineyard was in Rutherford on the Silverado Trail (now the site of Domaine Mumm), Robbins planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc in 1980 on the land around Miravalle. Robbins' Spring Mountain Chardonnay became highly prized by connoisseurs and was a cult wine of the late 1960s and 1970s.
While the TV series made the property famous, Robbins continued to make wonderful wines through the 1980s. In 1992, the property was purchased by its current owner.
A large inventory of wine of the Robbins era was acquired with the property. These older vintages have been placed in a library where they remain a testament to the great winemaking and resurgence of the wine industry in the 1970's and 1980's. Several of these historic library vintages are for sale on a limited basis.
All of the Miravalle structures have undergone major restoration. The beautiful carriage house was fully restored using the exact materials of its original construction. The estate and winery were closed to the public to provide privacy and allow the staff to focus on winegrowing.
The vineyard has been re-planted in close spacing trained vertically in the "gobelet" form. This ancient method of pruning is a throw back to manner in which vines were planted a century earlier by Parrott. While the vineyard is more expensive to farm, there is no better method for producing quality than this ancient technique. Syrah and Viognier have been added to the hillside plantings and 15 acres of new Cabernet Sauvignon have been created on an upper ridge.
In 1993, two other adjoining hillside estates, Chateau Chevalier and Streblow Vineyards were acquired to expand the estate. Finally, in 1996, the hillside property that was originally planted in vines by Tiburcio’s friends, the Beringer’s, was acquired. That same year, the new Spring Mountain Vineyard introduced into the trade its first vintage from the new estate.