Spotlight on Boeger/50th Anniversary
Today, visitors to the foothills might know Boeger Winery for its outstanding Barbera or its picturesque rolling vineyards that welcome you to Carson Road or its fun and friendly vibe. What you might not know is the Boeger Family and their winery were instrumental in establishing El Dorado County as a wine making region. This year, the winery celebrates 50 years in Placerville with a nod to history and a look toward the future.
In 1972, decades after the last winery in the county was shut down due to Prohibition, Greg and Sue Boeger found their dream property and started planting grapes. As a result, Boeger Winery became the first post-Prohibition winery in the El Dorado American Viticultural Area and continues to be a favorite destination for wine lovers and history lovers alike.
The Boeger story started well before the winery. Both Greg and Sue graduated from U.C. Davis with degrees in Ag Economics & Viticulture, and Philosophy, respectively. Greg came to the university with rich experience in farming and a familiarity with wine grapes, having spent much of his youth in Napa Valley working at the Nichelini Family Winery, which was established in 1890 by his grandfather Anton Nichelini. Sue had business moxie and a passion for art and philosophy. Greg and Sue married in 1967 and set their sights on the wine business.
In 1972, they left their comfortable government jobs — Greg as an agricultural statistician and Sue as a social worker — and looked for vineyard land. They found the ideal property in a Placerville pear orchard, which held a gold rush era winery and a distillery from the 1860s. The Boeger’s first vineyards were planted with Merlot, Cabernet, and other traditional varietals. Though Greg became a pioneer in his own right by experimenting with obscure varietals like Barbera, Carignane, Refosco, Charbono, Flora, Aglianico, Tempranillo, Negroamaro and Graciano: most of which are still on the estate today.
Meanwhile, Sue became active in the newly formed Apple Hill Growers Association, which brought thousands of tourists to the area. Sue enrolled at Sacramento State University to study business and finance and took that knowledge back to the winery. She instituted professional accounting practices, computerized the business, established the tasting room, set up a local and national sales network, and managed the staff.
As El Dorado County’s wine industry grew, the Boegers played a guiding role in the region’s agricultural development, like establishing the El Dorado Winery Association and the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association. They also petitioned the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to recognize El Dorado County as an American viticulture area (which happened in 1983).
Since then, the Boeger Winery has received international honors for its wines, while raising awareness of the entire region. Boeger wines have been poured at the Four Seasons in New York, twice at White House state dinners and their 1980 Zinfandel was selected for all events surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s 1984 California tour.
Today, the winery is still a family affair. Sue and Greg’s children, Justin and Lexi play significant roles at the winery. Justin received his degree in fermentation science at UC Davis and became Boeger’s full-time winemaker in 1998. Lexi, a multimedia artist with a degree from UC Davis, is the winery’s art director.
The winery plans to celebrate this impressive milestone with a celebration in July. In the meantime, the tasting room is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and guests may make reservations for guided wine tastings. The weekends can get rather busy, so consider making a reservation well in advance to ensure they have a seat for you!
You can also enjoy the beautiful vineyard property on summer evenings at Boeger’s popular Friday evening music series, “Enchanted Friday Evenings.” The concerts start at 5:30 p.m. every Friday through August. For more information on Boeger wine and events, visit Boeger Website