Ferrari-Carano founder dies

Healdsburg, Calif.—Donald Louis Carano, founder of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, Eldorado Resorts Inc., and McDonald, Carano & Wilson, LLC law firm; died peacefully on Oct. 3, surrounded by his family at his home in Reno, Nev. He was 85.

According to a statement released by the winery, Carano was born in Reno and completed an undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco, followed by two years as an officer in the United States Army. Carano attended USF law school, graduated with honors and began his law practice in Reno. He was a founding member of the law firm McDonald, Carano & Wilson. Carano’s legal career in Nevada made him an expert in corporate, business and gaming law, and he used his knowledge to build his own hotel and casino in 1973, called the Eldorado Hotel and Casino.

In 1976, Carano hired Rhonda Bevilacqua to work at the Eldorado. She soon became his wife and lifelong partner in love and in business.

With the Eldorado’s emphasis on fine dining, Carano and his wife grew to love Sonoma County while visiting the region to buy wines for the hotel's restaurants and decided to purchase property in the area.

After taking classes in winemaking and making small lots of their own wines from their home ranch in Alexander Valley, the Caranos purchased additional land in Sonoma County and founded Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in 1981. Today, the family owns 24 sustainably-farmed estate ranches comprising over 1,900 vineyard acres in six appellations of Northern California. 

In 2000, the Caranos acquired the boutique hotel Vintners Inn and the John Ash & Co. Restaurant. In 2008, they acquired Lazy Creek Vineyards in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County.

Just a few weeks ago, Carano was walking the vineyards in Sonoma County and celebrating the “blessing of the grapes.”

He is survived by his wife Rhonda, five children, 11 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.


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