Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Discover Gold Country’s winemaking roots

From page B4 | November 06, 2013 | 2 Comments

Wineries of the Gold Country

"IMAGES OF AMERICA: Wineries of the Gold Country"

Between the covers

Book: “Images of America: Wineries of the Gold Country”

Author: Sarah Lunsford

Publisher: Arcadia Publishing, September 2013, 128 pages, softcover

Cost: $21.99

In a sweep from Nevada County to Tuolumne County, including Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties, Sarah Lunsford takes the reader on a historical and pictorial journey into Gold Country winemaking roots.

From the years of supplying miners and the state with wines, to the years when Prohibition and the phylloxera infestation wiped most of the wineries out, to the wine renaissance that began in the foothills in the 1970s, the circle of wine-making endeavors in the Gold Country is documented through photographs.

Family photographs from long-time Gold Country wine-making families like the D’Agostinis, the Deavers, the Sobons and the Boegers fill the pages of this fascinating book, along with historical photos, portraits and documents from county archives.

Not everyone who came to California in the 1850s was interested in gold mining. Many recognized the opportunities that California climate and geology opened for agriculture. Immigrants from Italy and France, accustomed to making wine in their homelands found their new home in the Gold Country perfect for growing fruits and vegetables, including grapes.

The Lombardo family from Genoa, Italy planted vineyards near Placerville and made a variety of wines and brandies for many years until Prohibition caused trouble for their winemaking operation. Now the land is part of a successful winery once more — Boeger Vineyards.

Vintage photographs of wine-making families, vineyards and wineries in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties tell the story of immigrants who brought their wine making skills to California, the effect of Prohibition on the wine-making industry and the wine Renaissance that began in the 1970s.

Some of the photographs are from county museum archives, others are cherished wine-making family mementos and still others are from the author’s own collection.

Sarah Lunsford, author of “Wineries of the Gold Rush” is a resident of Murphys. This is her first soft-cover book but she has previously published ebooks. She is a journalist and began her career as a government reporter in the Mother Lode and is now the lead feature writer for the Sierra Lodestar. She also writes monthly travel and wine stories for California Golf News & Travel.

“Quite a few years ago a friend and I were talking about the expansion of wineries in the area and she noted that the current wineries have changed the landscape of the Gold Country in a way reminiscent of the gold miners,” wrote Lunsford in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat. “That thought stayed with me and I wrote many feature stories about wine, wineries and the history of the area. As time went on, I began to take a great interest in the people who made the industry what it was and is.”

It took about five months of researching archives, interviewing individuals, gathering photos in five Mother Lode counties and then sifting through the material to write the book.

The photos and information are amazing.

Look for “Wineries of the Gold Country” to be carried at local wineries and bookstores for $21.99. It can also be purchased online at or


Discussion | 2 comments

  • richard engstrandNovember 06, 2013 - 9:28 am

    Just an observation, which in no way is meant to lessen the enjoyment of the above story. The miners are accused of destroying the pristine landscape, whereas bringing non-native plants such as wine grapes, apples, etc. get a pass. Both industries made California rich. There are non-profits spending thousands of tax-payer dollars to rid the Sierra of non-native plants like the Himalayn Blackberry and Scotch Broom, but strangely silent on aforementioned plants. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Phil VeerkampNovember 06, 2013 - 9:57 am

    Richard, I'm certain that there are apt words in addition to "hypocrisy". "Arrogance" - As in the arrogance of pretending to know what is natural. "Futility" - As in the futility of removing the non-native turkeys that were planted in the '50s-'60s. "Hubris" - As in the incredible hubris displayed in pretending to know that native, pristine landscapes can be artificially restored with a net positive outcome. WHY? Because according to "chaos theory" small changes in initial conditions can produce profound changes over time . . . and . . . "good" is as likely as "bad" . . . and the outcome is UNKNOWABLE. Pretending to know that "natural" is "good" is a compounding of "hypocrisy", "arrogance", "futility" and "hubris".

    Reply | Report abusive comment


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