Califonia Bountiful

History in a bottle

The Heringer family builds on a 140-year agricultural heritage in an emerging California wine region.

The agriculturally rich Delta region holds a secret—the town of Clarksburg. A mere 15 miles from downtown Sacramento is a bustling wine region full of promise. The tiny appellation is growing in prominence for several reasons—a fabulous climate, a refurbished "town center" at the historic sugar mill and above all, the perseverance of local farming families—including the Heringers.

Embedded in the Clarksburg area for 140 years now, the family has grown a wide variety of crops, including wheat, corn, tomatoes and even the sugar beets they sold to the nearby sugar mill back when it was an actual working mill. But these days, grapes are the focal point of this family's farming operation.

In recent years, patriarch Steve Heringer has been joined by his son, Mike, who left a promising career in the criminal justice system to return to life on the farm. He says the connections he felt to the land, to his community and to his family were just too strong to ignore.

Mike and his family now produce about 1,200 cases of wine a year—everything from chardonnay to zinfandel to their award-winning petite syrah.

But Mike will be the first to tell you, his job isn't just about growing grapes and making wine. It's about selling their story—something he gets to do at his family's winery, which is located, where else, but in the town's famous sugar mill.

"What our family has done here is so rare, rare in California," Mike said. "It's rare in the United States—the legacy my grandparents and my great-grandparents have left is history, it's agriculture. People are losing that connection to agriculture every day and we hope to bring it back."

With good wine, good farming and good old-fashioned determination to succeed, it's easy to see why they've stayed in business for more than a century and why their family story, like their wine, is just getting better by the year.

For more information about the Heringers, visit

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