Delta Breeze Magic: How Wind Shapes Clarksburg’s Award-Winning Vintages at Fellow Wines

By Published On: March 28, 2024

Credit: Fellow Wines

The story of Fellow Wines of Clarksburg begins with the Ogilvie family’s agricultural journey in the early 20th century. David Ogilvie’s great-grandfather, George Wilson, and a friend, James Wadsworth, bought two parcels of land in Clarksburg in 1921.

Opting for the smaller parcel with a farmhouse, George Wilson laid the foundation for the family’s farming legacy.  The farm flourished under George’s son, David’s grandfather, who expanded the farm’s operations. Initially, the farm was successful with crops like tomatoes and sugar beets. However, after a conversation with Warren Bogle Sr., a decision was made to diversify into wine grapes, marking the family’s first venture into the wine industry.

By the 1990s, influenced by market downturns and David’s studies in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, the family decided to focus solely on wine grapes, marking a significant shift in the farm’s operations.  David’s personal journey led him to explore both winemaking and brewing. After working at Anheuser-Busch for eight years, the lure of the vineyards brought him back to the family farm. 

Their desire to share the unique offerings of the region with the world led to the creation of Fellow Wines of Clarksburg. This brand, made from grapes grown in the vineyards planted by their grandfathers, showcases the versatility of Clarksburg with a variety of wines. Through Fellow Wines, they aim to ensure that the vineyard is not lost in the winemaking process, and that the legacy of their family’s involvement in Clarksburg’s wine industry continues to flourish.

Credit: Fellow Wines

Clarksburg, with its winding waterways, is a region of diverse microclimates and soils. The Delta Breeze, originating from the San Francisco Bay, cools the area in the evening, causing a temperature drop of over 40 degrees. This helps maintain acidity levels in the grapes as they ripen.  The strength of the breeze varies across the region. In the cooler south, it nurtures Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. The warmer north is home to Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  The soils in Clarksburg are layered with silt, a result of millennia-old floods. Closer to the levee, the soil is rich in organic matter. Further away, in the center of the islands, the soil is heavier and clay-rich.  These factors shape the unique character of Clarksburg wines, distinguishing them from other Californian regions.

Chenin Blanc, a versatile variety originating from France’s Loire region, is often considered the flagship wine of the Clarksburg AVA. This grape variety was widely planted in California for table white wines. However, as variety labeled wines gained favor, Chenin Blanc was replaced with more popular varieties, except in areas where it thrived. Clarksburg, with its Delta breeze and warm days, was one such area.   While Chenin Blanc is prominent, other grape varietals also perform exceptionally well in the Clarksburg AVA. Cabernet Franc, for instance, has shown great promise since its first harvest in 2016. Petite Sirah is another standout variety. In Clarksburg, wine enthusiasts find solace as California’s fertile heart beckons wine lovers to explore its vine-clad hills. 

The wines featured in the Wine Recommendations section were provided by the winery for the purpose of review. The selection and tasting of these wines were independently conducted. No compensation or incentives were provided for inclusion in the story. As always, the top priority is to provide readers with informative reporting.

Wine Recommendations

2021 Chenin Blanc-this wine features a lively bouquet of green apple and melon, with a hint of crisp pear. On the palate, it presents a refreshing acidity balanced by a subtle sweetness, reminiscent of ripe peaches. The finish is clean, with a delightful persistence of fruit flavors

2019 Petite Sirah- dark fruit aromas, with a hint of spice. The palate is greeted with an assertive structure, characterized by coarse tannins that promise longevity The finish lingers with a touch of dried black cherry and vanilla.

About the Author: Joe Campbell

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Located out of the Sierra Foothills of California, Joe Campbell provides color commentary as well as insight within the wine industry both from the lifestyle consumer and business segments of the industry. He can be reached via email at : joe@winebulletin.net .