#3 Heringer Estates Vineyards & Winery
Other Products: wine
Services/Activities: Farmers Markets
When 5th generation Steve Heringer thinks about Heringer Estates Family Vineyard and Winery, focusing on where they are today, he feels an immense gratitude to the generations of Heringers before him. Their hard work, innovation, and stewardship of the land are an integral part of the family business. You can’t see or touch their contributions, not like the harvest and wine-making equipment so vital to what he does, but it’s there in the fabric of who they are and in the opportunities their foresight provided. It’s why the Heringer family is still farming in Clarksburg over 140 years later.
The legacy all began in 1868 when John and Geertje Heringa left Oppenhuezen, Holland in search of opportunities in America. Sailing from Liverpool, England this stalwart couple, with four children under 12 years old in tow, reached Boston, Massachusetts, boarded a steamer to Panama then on to San Francisco, and finally, a paddle wheeler to Sacramento where they were met by a fellow countryman and friend. John and Geertje purchased 30 acres of land from him on Merritt Island, just below Clarksburg in the Sacramento River Delta.
In the late 1800s, the family name was Americanized to Heringer. One of John’s grandsons assisted with reclamation efforts following the building of delta levees in 1913. The rich and fertile land became the base of Heringer Brothers growing tomatoes, alfalfa, pears, peaches, prunes, corn, wheat, safflower, asparagus and sugar beets, Some of these, similar to others used today, were cover crops to provide biomass to the soil and to provide habitat for beneficial insects. The Heringer family planted its first wine grape vineyards in 1973. This same year, Stephen (Steve) F. Heringer III, rejoined the family ranch after serving in the Vietnam War and completing master’s degree courses. The Heringers continued to sustain their land with the incorporation of owl boxes in the 1990s for owls as a natural rodent control and run goats on the perimeter and levees for vegetation control. Heringer Estates was established in 2002 with the brothers, Steve and Duke, deciding to strengthen the farming operation through vertical integration to produce and sell wine with their first vintage custom crush. Steve’s son, Mike, returned to the ranch full-time in 2004 as Heringer Estates’ winemaker and produced the first wines in their new facility at the Old Sugar Mill. As a founding member of the Sacramento River Delta Agri-tourism Association, Heringer Estates, helped assist with the launching of a farm and winery trail in the Delta region in 2011. Since 2012, Heringer Estates is a family affair with the sixth generation running the farm in Clarksburg now. All three of Steve’s adult children, Stephen, Stacy, and Michael, are integrally involved in Heringer Estates Vineyards and Winery. The family honors its agricultural legacy while embracing the excitement of today and the promise of the future.
Today, Heringer Estates Vineyards and Winery manage 385 acres of vineyards in the fertile soils of the Sacramento River Delta. The warm days and cool nights of summer in Clarksburg are ideal for growing wine grapes. At Heringer Estates, the grapes guide them in the creation of their wine. They believe that the individuality of the grape creates the uniqueness of the wine. With that premise in mind, the Heringers nourish their land, just as the generations before had, and nurture their vineyards to produce an excellent wine grape, rich with flavor, reflecting the character of the Clarksburg appellation and region. As a certified sustainable winegrape producer, they continually meet strict guidelines for the use of fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides and use deficit irrigation through a drip system to promote water conservation and to enhance fruit quality. The winery itself crafts premium small-batch, estate bottled, Clarksburg appellation wines sold primarily direct to consumer. Heringer Estates produces award-winning wine grapes and wines from 100 percent estate and locally grown grapes.