by Gene Beley, Delta Correspondent
November 30, 2014 9:01pm
Every time I think I know the Delta, I learn something new that gives it another deep dimension. Recently, I went on a Delta tour with the California Bar’s Agribusiness Committee of the Business Law Section, sponsored by the Sacramento law firm Churchwell White LLP. We stopped at the Bogle Vineyards production facility built in Clarksburg in 2011 that is just stunning in size and what it does for the Delta economy.
President Warren Bogle gave the tour through the production facility that is located about 20 minutes from their tasting room lodge. “That’s where we were crushing about 3,000 tons of grapes when our total processing was around 25,000 tons,” Mr. Bogle said, referring to the smaller site. “Last year we did 34,000 tons (in the new facility),” he said, adding that they had a good year, shipping just “a little under two million cases.”
The new facility on Hamilton Road has more than 100 stainless steel wine storage and fermentation tanks and more than 100,000 square feet of room to store barrels of their Bogle wine products. In total, there are 270,427 square feet of buildings.
The cooling to all buildings and the tank farm was expanded from 600 tons to 1,500 tons and a dedicated cold stabilization chiller was added to the system. A new 10,000-gallon compressed air tank and compressor were added to the existing exterior mechanical yard to serve the new presses as well as the tank farm. New underground waste lines were installed to serve the tank farm and tie into the existing waste system and ponds. New electrical distribution and tank controls were also installed.
All of that construction allowed Bogle to go from “30-40 employees to 75 and more during crush," Mr. Bogle said.
As one of California’s top wineries in volume, Bogle’s wines are found nationwide, but Mr. Bogle said they don’t export much. This family enterprise has roots back to when his great-great grandfather, Samuel Bogle was a farmer in the late 1800s. However, the winery business really didn’t take roots until his grandfather, Warren Bogle, and his father, Chris Bogle, planted vineyards with their first 20 acres of grapes in Clarksburg in 1968.
His mother, Patty Bogle, became a California wine pioneer, along with her husband Chris, but both of them died at young ages. Chris Bogle died in 1997 at 45 of heart and kidney failure, which is when Warren came home from California State University, Chico to take over management of the business. Then his mother Patty died of leukemia at 59 in 2011.
Today, Warren, his sister, Jody Bogle, and brother Ryan Bogle are jointly managing the 14th largest winery in the nation. They are assisted by Chris Smith, director of wine growing; Eric Aafedt, who is director of winemaking and has been with them 18 years; and Dana Stemmler, a graduate of the University of California, Davis, who joined them in 2000 and is now an associate winemaker.
“We started in 2009 with the planning and building on bare farm ground,” Mr. Bogle told the tour group. “We had to put in all the infrastructure -- septic, well, and processing ponds for our processed water out back. In 2009 Yolo County was really helpful. In their General Plan they set aside about 120 acres of agricultural and industrial. We were able to get 60 acres for this facility. That means if we want to build more, we still have to get permits to build but we don’t have to go before the Planning Commission to get any sort of county supervisor approval. That was part of the reason we did it and the other was the change to the flood zone and FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency]. This area was zoned at 200 years. We decided if we were going to do it we’re going to do it now."
One tour member asked, “What is the significance of the 200-year flood plain?”
“We would have had to build elevated above the flood plain, which in this area is 17-18 feet,” said Mr. Bogle. “We had to get the foundations done before they remapped. If it is above 200 years, there is no elevation requirement.”
Dave Mraz, principal engineer with the Delta-Suisun Marsh office of the California Department of Water Resources, who was on the tour, said, “When you start all looking at rated flood plain, all this land is below the high tide mark. When you start thinking about flooding, your rivers are elevated. The 100-year flood plain is one of those things that FEMA decides and the banks tie into. If you are in a 100-year flood plain, you can get loans. It used to be that was California’s state standard as well. In 2009 when they raised it to a 200-year level of flood protection, the levees are rated at 100, so you have to raise the levees. So until these levees are raised, if you’re going to raise an isolated facility, the facility has to be raised above that 200-year flood plain. It makes a huge difference to the guy who is building it.”
“That’s part of FEMA’s national flood insurance program,” added Melinda Terry, who is executive director of the Central Valley Flood Control Association, as well as manager of the North Delta Water Agency. “West Sacramento was a good example. We had our protection under FEMA and they said we were great. And then literally they started this remapping program. The very next year they said you no longer qualify and we had to locally approve some additional tax assessments to improve the levees even more to get to the new standard added across the United States.”
Another question from another person on the tour was “Where do you get your water?”
“Well water,” said Mr. Bogle. “We’re down to 350 feet.”
“Our first crush here was in 2011,” continued Mr. Bogle. “We did roughly 11,000 tons. We buy crops from all the way down to the Central Coast and up to Mendocino County.”
He said distributors pick up the wine in West Sacramento and deliver it across the country. When he showed the tour group the bottling lines, he said they could bottle 220 bottles a minute and put them into boxes. “10,000-11,000 cases can be done on an eight hour shift.”
“The big line and a small line annually do about 1.5 million cases on one shift. If we need more, we’ll go to two shifts.”
His brother Ryan Bogle, a graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., also holds a postgraduate degree in accounting, and is vice-president. Sister Jody handles customer affairs and their wine club. The family has certainly come a long ways since their mother and father set a goal to produce 4,000 cases annually.
The Bogles’ stand against the governor’s tunnels scheme
Like many residents and business owners in the Delta, the Bogles are opponents of the governor’s $68 billion plan to build massive water tunnels to suck fresh water out of the Sacramento River before it can flow into and through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They have been fighting the plan, known as the “Bay Delta Conservation Plan” for years.
Following is the text of a letter sent more than six years ago to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, on May 30, 2008:
To: Delores Brown, Chief of Environmental Compliance,Department of Water Resources:
My name is Warren Bogle. I am a sixth generation Delta farmer and hopefully my son will be the seventh. My family and I own and operate Bogle Vineyards, Inc. in Clarksburg. I am writing because of serious concern over your proposed project. Obviously, since our family and employees live, work and depend on the Clarksburg fertile farmland to make a living we are not for turning it into a tidal Marsh. I attended the scoping meeting in Clarksburg on April 30, 2008 and was very disturbed by the attitude of all the paid public officials. I felt their attitude was that this was no big deal but they don’t live here and were just paid to be there. On so many levels turning the Delta into a swamp or whatever you want to call it is wrong. I am sure many people have talked about the economic factors and tax consequences. I want to talk about the community. Living in Clarksburg my whole life, except for the years I left for college, it is a very special place. There are not many places left in California where everybody knows everybody else, where the crime rate is pretty much zero, and where neighbors actually care and help each with only a phone call. These are the values that are getting lost in society today and with this project you will loose a community that doesn’t really exist in very many places any more. I think one of our fellow community members, farmer Jeff Merwin, said it best at the scoping meeting when he said, “’What should be on the endangered species list is the family farmer and communities like ours.’”
Warren Bogle, President, Bogle Vineyards, Inc.