Change tends to come slowly in a town of fewer than 500 people, so it’s not surprising that many of the top winemaking families in this lovely Delta town, including Bogle and Heringer, have local roots dating back to the 19th century. Named after settler Robert C. Clark and located on the Sacramento River in southeastern Yolo County, Clarksburg features warm days, cool evenings and a dry growing season that works for a wide variety of wine grapes.
Located just 15 minutes south of Sacramento, Clarksburg is dwarfed by the imposing, Depression-era Old Sugar Mill, a former beet sugar refinery that was retrofitted to serve as a one-stop buffet of mostly local wineries. Fifteen wineries have tasting rooms inside the behemoth former factory, each with its own unique flavor and style, while the spacious outdoor area makes Old Sugar Mill a popular spot for weddings.
The Clarksburg AVA was established in 1984, but the town has retained its authentic smallness, holding steady at three schools, two churches, a volunteer fire department and a public library. That library is supported by Friends of the Clarksburg Library, which raises funds through Wines of Clarksburg, an annual wine tasting and art auction that celebrates its 30th anniversary on Sept. 16.
Facts and figures: No. of wineries: 15; most common variety: Chardonnay; elevation: 10–20 feet; varieties grown: 35+; year established as AVA: 1984; town population: 475; climate type: warm-summer Mediterranean.
Wine With History
Clarksburg was officially established as an American Viticultural Area in 1984, and the Clarksburg Wine Growers and Vintners Association was founded a few years later, but some of the wineries in the area have family roots going as far back as the 19th century. Here’s a look at some of the oldest family wineries operating in Clarksburg.
Bogle Family Winery
The first members of the Bogle family arrived in Clarksburg in the 1870s, settling around the Merritt Island location where the tasting room currently stands. Warren Bogle first planted wine grapes in the late 1960s, and now the family winery is one of the most popular and decorated in all Northern California.
Bogly Family Winery
This sixth-generation farming family oversees 650 acres of vineyards in the area, yielding enough fruit to not only make their own small-batch wines but to supply grapes to dozens of wineries across the country.
Scribner Bend Vineyards
The renovated barn tasting room on the property was originally built in 1918, a quarter century after George Washington Scribner first settled in the area. A perfect mix of the pastoral and the polished, the winery frequently hosts weddings in the scenic Chardonnay Garden.
With 15 tasting rooms and counting, the Old Sugar Mill presents a wealth of wine-tasting options, but the food-court-style setup can be a little dizzying for newcomers. With such a strong lineup of award-winning wineries in one spot, it’s practically impossible to choose wrong, but make sure you don’t wander past these top-notch tasting rooms.
Todd Taylor Wines
As much as we appreciate a diversified portfolio of wines, there’s something to be said for sticking to what that you do well. Todd Taylor makes only seven types of wines, all reds (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Syrah, Tempranillo and Zinfandel), choosing his grapes from vineyards famous for growing those varieties.
Bump City Wine Co.
Tower of Power keyboardist Roger Smith and friend/business partner Mike Smolich launched their winery in 2012, sourcing grapes from Sonoma County and Lodi. Seek out the 2014 Bump City Red, a Gold Medal winner at the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Due Vigne Winery
Former firefighter Ken Musso and wife Ann grow the grapes for their award-winning wines on their land in Garden Valley in El Dorado County, but they sell their Italian-heavy lineup of wines out of their tasting room in Clarksburg.
You could easily “do” downtown Clarksburg in less than two hours. However, that doesn’t mean that this mini wine country within arm’s reach of Sacramento is devoid of small-town charms.
A proto-food truck covered in wooden shingles, Dinky Diner serves a simple menu of burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and shakes. The frills are low, but that doesn’t make wolfing down a Clarksburger with cheese next to the river any less satisfying. 36339 Riverview Drive
This former general store reopened only a few years ago, but it already serves as the centerpiece establishment in Clarksburg. The “taphouse” label is a little misleading. Sure, Husicks pours craft beers from Sacramento-area breweries like New Glory, New Helvetia and Sudwerk, but it also serves as a wine bar, coffee shop, barbecue restaurant, convenience store and live-music venue. 36510 Riverview Drive
The storybook architecture of William Raymond Yelland
Born in Saratoga, California, in 1890 and educated at UC Berkeley, architect William Raymond Yelland used to spend his summers in Clarksburg. Yelland was best-known for his work in the Medieval Revival style, and you can see those fairy-tale touches on the local buildings that he designed, including Clarksburg Community Church (52910 Netherlands Ave.).