At Boeger Winery, 40 Years Have Passed in the Blink of An Eye
Greg and Sue Boeger purchased the ranch in 1972 and started planting vineyards and built a new state-of-the-art-winery the following year. The old Fossati-Lombardo house was converted into a tasting room and was opened to the public in 1974. For four decades the Boeger family has dedicated themselves to bringing you some of the Sierra Foothill's finest wines. The old cellar has been restored and is now used for special events and private gatherings.
What: Celebrating 40 years — taste freshly crushed grape juice and special barrel selections
Who: Boeger Winery
Where: 1709 Carson Road, Placerville
When: Saturday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy free wine tasting and winery tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: no admission charge and no reservations are required
In the four decades since Boeger Winery was founded, they have been committed to only one standard: quality. Sue and Greg Boeger have built on their education and experience to produce exceptional wines. They are able to control the quality of our wines because we grow over 90% of our grapes. They are small enough to allow full attention to detail.
Greg Boeger - 40 Years
It’s hard to believe, but 40 years have passed in the blink of an eye. In the beginning, as we were doing all the hard work of developing the vineyard and winery, the days seemed endless and the nights short and fleeting; now 40 years later, the reverse seems to be the case. Looking back, recalling all the events, projects, and agonies that we experienced, they seem incredible and daunting if I were to undertake them again. Somehow youth, energy and ignorance can overcome what would appear to be insurmountable obstacles.
I grew up working summers at my cousin’s apricot and prune ranch in San Jose and working grape crush at my grandfather’s winery, Nichelini, in Napa. It seemed natural to attend UC Davis and pursue my agricultural interests. And after one course in introductory Viticulture, my direction became clear: I wanted to grow grapes. Graduating with a degree in Agricultural Economics with a minor in Viticulture, and working briefly at the California Dept. of Agriculture, I began looking for vineyard land in 1971 to start my own enterprise. Napa and Sonoma land was then, as it is now, very expensive, and they seemed to have no interest in helping someone start another vineyard.. I had, however, a natural attraction to the Sierra foothills, spending a lot of my youth hiking and trout fishing the Sierras. And some studies had just been published by UC Davis about the potential for wine grape growing in El Dorado County. A number of test plots had been established and the results were promising, and the wines excellent.
So I decided a field trip was in order to explore the region. The Agricultural Commissioner and Farm Advisor immediately took me on a field trip to show me the area. What I was to learn shortly, was that they were already looking for someone like myself, with a background in agriculture and grape growing, to establish in the county. Unknown to me, El Dorado was the largest pear producing district in the State, with some 5,000 producing acres, but was rapidly losing acreage to a combination of a disease, pear decline, and loss of markets due to declining demand for both fresh and canned pears. Their fear was that if the declining pear acreage wasn’t replaced with another crop, all of
their prime agricultural land would be lost forever to encroaching subdivisions and non-agricultural development. Statewide, the wine industry was just enjoying a renaissance and seemed a natural replacement. There were no wineries and only 6 acres of vineyards at the time.
And the rest is history. They helped me find a ranch that was historically a vineyard and winery and introduced us to the newly formed Apple Hill® Growers Association, so we had an immediate market of 400,000 customers annually. We farmed pears as we planted vineyards 10 acres at a time, leased other land and planted more vines. In the meantime, we built a new winery, and remodeled the old historic winery for our tasting room. My wife, Sue, realizing that her degree in Philosophy from Davis wasn’t going to answer the financial questions that kept facing her in the wine business, went back to school in the MBA program at Sacramento State. Of course she found out the obvious: agriculture is a long term proposition, and you don’t get in the black overnight, but at least she felt better about it all.
Developing labels and markets, innumerable wine tastings and competitions consumed our time. Being served twice at the White House , winning American Champion Merlot, and our Queen Elizabeth II Zinfandel in the mid-80’s, were particular highlights in our formative years. And of course the children, Justin and Lexi, were another highlight, albeit with a few reservations at times. But overall it went well; Justin and Lexi attended UC Davis also, majoring in winemaking and Fine Arts, respectively. So the natural progression has now occurred, Justin is the winemaker and Lexi the artistic consultant and label designer. Sue, of course, continues as the winery Administrator, overseeing all aspects of the business, from finances to marketing, legal department to long range planning. And we are fortunate to have all the other good employees on hand to make our job so much easier. Tara, with unfettered enthusiasm as the wine club and events coordinator, keeps us busy with events and is our face to the public; Christine maintains all the books and finances in order and keeps the paperwork flowing; Sarah and her outgoing tasting room staff unfailingly greet customers with a smile and dispense wine knowledge. Of course, Chuy, the vineyard foreman, and Arturo, the cellar master, make Justin and my jobs less burdensome. And also, our great sales team, Carl our national rep, and Jeff our local rep.
And I, after 40 years, have decided that being outside in the vineyard, or inside the shop repairing equipment, tractors and the occasional antique car, are my true passions. And 80 acres of vineyards to oversee, will keep me in fine shape for many years to come, especially on these hillsides. No need now to get up at 4:00 am to sterilize the bottling line, or work long hours in the cold cellar in January. But I’m fortunate that Justin still asks me into the lab once in awhile to ask my opinion on a particular blend or bottling that he’s working with -- and so there will always be a continuity of style to our wines that reflect our personalities and preferences.
We hope that you also, our loyal customers, appreciate the heritage that we are continuing and passing on to the next generation. And the end of the story -- after 40 years, there are now over 60 wineries and 2500 acres of vineyard in El Dorado County---all small, family owned.