One of the number one things critics of “Big Ag” continually re-iterate is that “agriculture is run by corporations, not family farms.” The reality of that statement is that many times, family is indeed still running the business whether it be large or small. And who defines what a large or small operation is? Bogle Vineyards is a great example of this exception, this gray area we often find in agriculture as well. Bogle wines can be found across the nation, but yet they are still family owned and operated. Bogle Vineyards may have an impressive line-up of accomplishments since they started, but in the wine scene, there are much larger players.
If you caught my post about my trip with Certified Angus Beef Brand, you may have seen that we also got to tour Bogle Vineyards. I was very excited when I saw Bogle was on the schedule because I LOVE their wines! My mom regularly picks up their Old Vine Zinfandel at Costco. And the best part? Their wines aren’t crazy expensive. I mean…
who has the finances to purchase expensive wine when you’re going to drink the whole bottle, right? 😉 Correction: that never happens!
It was an absolute joy to spend some time with grand-daughter of their founder, Jody Bogle VanDePol. Jody is an extremely down to Earth gal who had lunch with us and told us the beautiful history behind the vineyard. Jody told us some wonderful stories of growing up among the grapes. She told us about the evolution of the Bogle label. It started with a pheasant and many people ask, why a pheasant? At that time, California was full of wild pheasants all around so it was common place to see them in fields and around the Delta where Bogle is located. It is rumored that the artist who designed the label back in the 80’s, looked out the window and saw a pheasant so that is what he drew. And the pheasant has stuck for many decades since.
Bogle Vineyards is located in Clarksburg, California, right on the delta of the Sacramento River. The delta area has a long history of lush agricultural grounds for things like rice and other crops. The history of the Bogle family actually doesn’t start with grapes though; it starts with corn (woo hoo!). The Bogle family has had farming in their blood since the mid-1800’s growing seed corn for Dekalb. There’s a beautiful photo of Warren with his old-fashioned Dekalb hat on among his seed corn in their tasting room, it’s great! Anyway, starting in 1968, the Bogle family decided to try something different and planted their first 20 acres of grapes.
Ten years after those first grapes were grown, Bogle Vineyards was formed. Fast forward to today, Bogle farms over 1,500 acres of wine grapes. Jody and the rest of her family attributes this success to the fact that their family is involved every step of the process. The care, dedication, and passion of their family is what has made their story the success it is today. Bogle is now raising the 6th generation and Jody is so excited for her children to grow up in and around the business much like she did when she was young. For Bogle, their family extends beyond blood though. Many of their employees have become like family, such as their winemaker Eric Aafedt who has been with the family over 20 years.
Since 1992, Bogle has participated in what is known as the California Appellation Program. Essentially, this program allows wineries across the state to source fruit from some of the best vineyards in the state and blend them with their own grapes. Bogle sources grapes from 9 different areas across the state from places such as: Mendocino, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, Lodi, Monterey, and Amador County. This program has allowed Bogle to create unique blends as well as keep the retail price of their wines at a price they feel comfortable with people paying.
During our afternoon at Bogle, we got to try some of their wines paired with some Certified Angus Brand Beef. We also got to taste the “wine” at its’ different stages of production. Eric explained to us the process the grapes go through in order to become wine. For this variety, which will end up a Rose, they first crush the grapes. Please forgive me if my terminology is off, I am no winemaker. But I found the process to be interesting!
In the photo above, on the left you have freshly pressed/crushed juice they just pressed that very day! It essentially tasted just like grape juice, no fermentation whatsoever. The darker colored glass on the right is juice that has gone through a limited “maceration” process. Basically, once the grapes are pressed, the skins are left in contact with the juice until the winemaker decides he/she is happy with the color. The juice (soon to be wine) minus the skins is then transferred to another tank to finish fermentation.
That full bodiness and sometimes dry taste (tannins) you get from red wines can come from the skins. This is because red wines are typically fermented with the skins versus white or even rose wines when the skins are taken out much earlier in the process. Out of all the wines we tasted, I really enjoyed one of their newest varieties, the Essential Red as well as their Phantom.
Rather than me trying to describe to you what it was like, I will let the lovely Bogle descriptions do the work:
Essential Red – mixture of Old Vine Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah varieties. Ripe fruit, intense with flavors of boysenberries and sweet cherries, a hint of vanilla from aging in American and French oak.
Phantom – mixture of Petite Sirah, Old Vine Zinfandel, and Old Vine Mourvedre. Notes of blueberries and chocolate-covered cherries, with cloves and mocha, and ends with a ripe and rich finish.
Another favorite of our group was their Chardonnay. I will be honest, I am typically not a fan of Chardonnays. But I was pleasantly surprised at this one. It’s actually one I would drink.
After visiting their tasting room, Vineyard, and hearing the stories of Jody and their family, I decided to join their Bogle Bandwagon Wine Club. They do a great job of pairing their wines with delicious recipes to go along with their shipments. HELLOOO… that is right up my alley!
I look forward to receiving my first shipment in November. When I receive my shipments, I will enjoy the bottles knowing the hard work, dedication, and passion Jody, her family, and the rest of the people at Bogle put into each and every bottle they put out. And I hope when you are at the grocery store next time and you see the Bogle label, you will give it a try too.
For more information about Bogle Vineyards or their Bandwagon Wine Club, check out their website or give their Bogle Vineyards page a LIKE on Facebook!
Anyone else a Bogle lover out there?