2011-03 "Delta Wine Lovers Rejoice; Napa Valley has long claimed dominance over the California wine industry, but the Delta is also an emerging wine lovers’ paradise. Napa vintners should rest easy that their reputations are intact; however, their wines are not without equals" by Jah Mackey from "Bay Crossings" newspaper
Napa Valley has long claimed dominance over the California wine industry, but the Delta is also an emerging wine lovers’ paradise. Napa vintners should rest easy that their reputations are intact; however, their wines are not without equals.
Farming in the Delta has a long and glorious past, with farmers from all over the world settling the area over the past two centuries. In my explorations of these intimate family-owned vineyards, I discovered two locations in particular—Scribner Bend Vineyards in Sacramento and Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg—that share a similar foundation while offering vastly different interpretations of the gods’ nectar.
The Bogle family has been farming in the Delta since the mid-1800s, but it wasn’t until 1968 that the father-and-son team of Warren and Chris Bogle planted their first 20 acres of wine grapes. Today Bogle farms over 1,200 acres of wine grapes and is the fourteenth-largest winery in the United States. Patty Bogle, longtime owner and winery manager, died while this issue was going to press; her son, sixth-generation farmer Warren Bogle, is the vineyard manager.
“While being a family-owned winery is a common theme in the Delta, Bogle has committed itself to producing an exceptional wine at a very reasonable price,” said Shaun Kelish, Bogle Vineyards’ tasting room manager. “I believe our varietally correct wines, the Bogles’ day-to-day participation and a strong wine club membership have been keys to our success.”
Family farming is not only a repeated theme throughout the Delta, it is a shared foundation. Mark Scribner of Scribner Bend Vineyards represents the seventh generation of Delta farmers in his family. The Scribner family patriarch, George Washington Scribner, settled on the Sacramento River in 1893. The original barn built in 1918 was renovated in 2002 and now serves as the tasting room and event center.
But Delta winemaking is not just for the old guard. “I was a flight attendant for 17 years prior to arriving here. My only professional experience with wine was the ability to pour a glass 37,000 feet and not spill a drop,” said Sue Gothberg of Scribner Bend Vineyards. “I really wanted to learn something new and Mark gave me the opportunity.”
So what is special about these wines? Well, the proof is in the awards cabinet. Most recently, Bogle’s 2009 Chardonnay took home the “double gold” in the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for the Best Chardonnay up to $9.99, and the 2008 Merlot took home bronze honors for the Merlot up to $9.99. Scribner Bend’s 2007 Tempranillo took home the silver medal in the Tempranillo class, and their 2009 Fiano took the silver in the Italian Other White Varietals and Blends class.
You can acquaint yourself with these special wines by joining Bogle’s wine club, the Band Wagon, and Scribner’s wine club, Benders. The clubs are a great way for guests to sample the many varietals and blends produced by each vintner, typically at a reduced price.
“My wife Stacey and I love to get away from our 60-hour plus work week and our family responsibilities to enjoy a really relaxing atmosphere so close to home,” said Timothy Harrington, a Band Wagon member. “The fifteen-minute drive from our Sacramento home makes visiting Bogle like having a vineyard in our backyard.”
Both vintners have developed very successful marketing niches as well as very affordable award-winning wine. If you are an aficionado, I would highly recommend a Google search for Delta wineries. If you are up for an adventure, then I recommend that you mark your calendars for April 2 and 3 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. for the Clarksburg Wine Growers’ “Spring Fling” or the California Delta Chamber of Commerce fund raiser “Taste of the Delta” on July 17 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.