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River Cats Plant Vineyard at Raley Field

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The Cabernet planting crew at Raley Field. From left: Jody Bogle, Jeff Savage, President of the River Cats, Warren Bogle and Ryan Bogle The Cabernet planting crew at Raley Field. From left: Jody Bogle, Jeff Savage, President of the River Cats, Warren Bogle and Ryan Bogle

By Dan Clarke

Baseball is a game of tradition.

Peanuts in the shell. Crackerjack. Hotdogs. Cold beer. These are the staff of life for baseball fans and should ever remain so.

But times change. Serving wine at ballparks isn’t unusual these days and, as long as it doesn’t displace beer as the only adult beverage served, who could argue with its addition to the bill of fare? This is California, after all.

Bogle signage at Raley Field Vnyd PicmonkeyThis month Bogle Vineyards worked with the Sacramento River Cats, to plant a Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard just beyond the right field fence at Raley Field. Sure, it’s a small vineyard, but in three years it will start producing a crop—perhaps enough grapes to make one barrel of wine.

glove on vine Raley Field Picmonkey

That wouldn’t make economic sense, you say? Well, maybe not, but let’s look at it through a more creative lens. At the very least, it’s an interesting addition to the ballpark’s landscaping. Grape vines are bare during the winter but will be leafy green when opening day arrives each April. Fans will be able to see buds on those vines evolve to flowers and eventually set their fruit. Those clusters of green grapes will grow and begin to take on their red color in summer. Later, they will deepen in color and develop their sugars. They’ll be just about ready to harvest when the season ends in early September. Raley Field sees an average of over 8,000 people for each home game. These fans come to see a baseball game, but will get a peripheral lesson in viticulture in the bargain.

The River Cats, Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, play at Raley Field, which is just across the river from California’s Capitol city. Two or three decades ago much of West Sacramento could be described as raffish. Not so today. It’s a community on the move and development of the ballpark of this very successful minor-league team has been a catalyst for the revival.

Though not more than a mile or two from downtown Sacramento, this is also wine country—or at least close to it. This west side of the Sacramento River is Yolo County, home to wineries just down the road in the Clarksburg area. This is where the Bogle family has been farming since the 1800s, though they didn’t begin planting grapes until 1968. Bogle Vineyards produces quality wines at affordable prices. Their reputation “over-delivering” has helped them grow. Today they farm over 1600 acres of winegrapes in the Sacramento Delta region and control additional acreage in other parts of the state. Their company produced over 2.5 million cases of wine in 2016.

Warren Bogle is President of the family-owned vineyard and winery operation. His sister Jody is in charge of public relations and brother Ryan is the CFO. Warren says didn’t play too much baseball as a boy (he was busy with basketball and football at Delta High), but that he is fan. He attends all his son’s games and finds time to take his family to the ball park at least a couple of times a year.

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