In 1972, decades after the last winery in El Dorado County was shut down due to Prohibition, Sue and Greg Boeger ditched the security of government jobs for the uncertainty of viticulture and wine. Unable to stomach exorbitant land prices in Napa and Sonoma, the couple looked east. Agricultural officials in El Dorado County were eager to diversify farming. The wine industry had disappeared from the Sierra Foothills after Prohibition. When the Boegers were courted, wineries were nonexistent there and the region needed a pioneer.

They got one in Greg Boeger. He and Sue were transfixed with the property they purchased. Its history is amazing. The estate site was homesteaded during the 1849 Gold Rush. The dwellers didn’t strike gold, so they turned their attention to farming and making wines and spirits. The cellar was built in 1872 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is history around every corner of the place.

Greg was no newcomer to winemaking. His grandfather, Anton Nichelini, founded the Nichelini Winery in Napa in 1890. Spending a good portion of his youth at his grandfather’s vineyard and winery, Greg developed an intimate knowledge of the craft that, by 1972, was second nature. Like the Fossatis and his grandfather before him, Greg Boeger became a pioneer in his own right by experimenting with lesser-known varietals such as Barbera, Carignane, Refosco, Charbono, and Aglianico, just to name a few of the over thirty varietals that the winery grows.

Barbera emerged as the winery’s magical gift early on and has since garnered hundreds of awards under the Boeger label. This grape is planted around the world but is mostly associated with the Piedmont region of Italy. Greg saw many similarities between the Piedmont and El Dorado County and figured the grape would do well here. Barbera is Boeger’s biggest production wine, with several different versions offered; the “mainline” Barbera which is sold to restaurants and retailers, Estate Barbera, which is sold only at the winery and made from grapes entirely under our control, and Reserve Barbera, a club member exclusive wine comprised of the top lots hand-selected by our winemaking team.

The Boeger family has written its own history over the last half-century. Their Merlot won national honors in the early Eighties. Boeger wine has been served in The White House. As the founder of the El Dorado commercial wine industry, promoter of unique varietals, and life-long advocate for farm life and agricultural rights, Greg Boeger was honored with the Wine Lifetime Achievement Award by the California State Fair in 2018, joining industry stalwarts like Jerry Lohr, Robert Mondavi, and Bob Gallo.

Sue and Greg’s son Justin carries on the family tradition as the current winemaker, a role he’s had for the past 25 years. As we look to the future, Justin envisions planting more Italian and Spanish varietals, especially those that are well suited to drought conditions, expanding our portfolio of white wines, and continuing the pioneering spirit that put Boeger on the map over a half-century ago.

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