Tuesday, April 05, 2005

THE STORY OF BOUCHAINE WINERY


PRELIMINARY DRAFT - HISTORY IN DEVELOPMENT
Copyright by John M. Olney, March 11, 2005. All rights reserved.

Bouchaine Vineyards
(Now owned by Gerret & Tatiana Van S. Copeland, a duPont heir)
Progression of ownership
Boone (a.k.a. Boon) Fly
Johnny Garetto
Beringer Brothers
Gerret Copeland, et al
This property lies within the region known as the Spanish name “Carneros”, which translates to “sheep” in English. It is one of a few appellations, which cross county lines as it contains wineries located in both Napa and Sonoma Counties.

The first owner to grow grapes on this land was a man named Boon (a.k.a. Boone) Fly. Although my research to date has revealed little about the individual, he was apparently a man of some significance in the region as sites named after him such as “Fly’s Landing” in the marshlands along the Napa River approaching San Pablo bay. From what I can gather, he was primarily a general farmer on property he purchased in the early to mid 1850s. He grew a limited number of vineyard acres.

Another man who became well known in Napa County worked on the Fly farm. Theron H. Ink was born in New York in 1831. In 1852, he heard about the land and prospects of the newly opened state of California from friends he made while he was a schoolteacher. With these friends he completed the journey by wagon train arriving in the Sacramento-Stockton area. He tried his hand at gold digging and was somewhat successful in the town of Colma: town in which the sawmill worker, John Marshall found the first gold on John Sutter’s property in 1848. In fact, Ink’s claim was almost on top of the stream area where Marshall made his find. Ink was able to earn up to about $200 per day working his claim. When it dried up, he moved on to American Flat, along the American River. Here, he hired on with a company using flume technology in attempt to extract gold. It bellied up and Ink and expended most his savings in hope of riches.

He then moved to Napa Valley in 1853 and hired on at Jonathan Hungerford’s farm who lived off Sonoma road. He left there and went to work for Boone (a.k.a. Boon) Fly plowing fields hauling wood and threshing. In 1854, Ink and a man named Reese Smith rented Fly’s place. Ink and Reese planted and cultivated 200 acres of wheat. Unfortunately they lost all but a few acres to a wheat disease. (Why Ink rented it out is not explained. I am still seeking an answer in my research work).

Ink is next found working land on property owned by one T. O. Larkin. Ink had been informed that the property was Government land but he learned that it was not. He was forced to buy the 240-acres of land that required him to incur heavy debt financing. He lived and farmed the land until 1860. San Francisco was his principal market that he delivered to by boat. In 1861, he sold his interests and moved to Marin County. (See my expanded research on Mr. Ink and his return to Napa Valley in another chapter of my stories.)

The next time I read about Boone (a.k.a. Boone) Fly, it is on the website “pjwines.com” where the write-up indicates that Fly was growing grapes and fruit tries on his property in the late 1880s. (I am still attempting to collaborate this statement).


From the Bouchaine website, I find that about 1900, Southern Pacific railway built a station near Fly’s property, which was called the “Bulchi Station.” This still requires research to confirm, but I’m pretty sure that this done near or on the land of John M. Buchle (a.k.a. Bulchi). He was born in Switzerland, in 1843 and migrated to California in 1870. In 1882, he purchased his Carneros region ranch where he maintained cows, six acres of vineyard and a small winery where he produce wine from his own grapes.

One reference, “carneros.org/history,” records a Johnny Garetto as having built a winery on his place: the former Fly property, in 1899. However, the following extraction from the Bouchaine website seems to indicate that Fly still owned the property: “Around the turn of the century the Southern Pacific Railroad erected Buchli Station in the lower part of Napa Valley to accommodate all the commerce going in and out of this agricultural paradise. Livestock fruit grains wines (including Garetto’s wines) and people all departed from Buchli Station for adventures around the globe.”

I contacted the Carneros Quality Alliance and by e-mail received a reply that indicated Garetto purchased the Fly property in 1927 and began construction of a winery shortly thereafter. The pjwine.com site indicating that the date was 1929 and that Garetto was an “Italian home winemaker.” Then, in ___(ref.)____ , it was alleged that Johnny Garetto might have been “bootlegging" wine during the years of Prohibition. The Carneros Quality Alliance e-mail said the following: “John Garetto built the first winery building on the property before Prohibition but it was the only one in Carneros that survived Prohibition.” Most of the reference resources kind of come together about the year 1935 as when Garetto completed his winery and become a bonded producer. The Carneros.org site indicates that Garetto’s winery was the first post-Prohibition winery to operate in the entire Carneros region.

It seems to this author that everybody is walking lightly about the Prohibition era and trying not to get pinned down to saying that Johnny Garetto ran illegal wine during Prohibition. It really does not matter, as the whole 14-year period of Prohibition was a silly exercise in attempting to legislate social behavior. Those who were caught selling booze during that period were really no more or less guilty than their buyers, few of which were ever prosecuted for illegally drinking an outlawed beverage. There, I said it! I got my biased opinion out there! I am attempting to meet with some of the old Napans from that era and area who are still with us to develop a census opinion as to what happened to and on Fly’ property during the 1900 to 1933 timeframe.

The next owner of the property was Beringer Vineyards. The Beringer family bought the property in 1951 for use as wine blending and storage facility. For more information on this period, please refer to my separate story on the Beringer Brothers (now owned by Fosters of Australia).

About 30 years later, in 1981, the owners of Beringer no longer wanted the property and it was sold to group of investors composed of Gerret Van S. Copeland (an heir of the duPont family), Richard Sutton and Austin Kiplinger (publisher of the” Kiplinger Washington newsletter” and "Changing Times" magazine.) They originally renamed the winery “Chateau Bouchaine.” The old white barn-like building was remodeled into a modern winery.

About Richard Sutton. (In research)

About Austin Kiplinger. His father, W.M. Kiplinger, created a form of business journalism --”Kiplinger Washington newsletter” -- that simplified complex financial matters so the average reader could grasp them and make monetary decisions. Although Austin worked at his father’s newsletter when he was growing up, he sought a different career. He was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle just before he served in the navy during WW II. Following the war, he returned home and assisted his father in the start up of the publication, “Changing Times” magazine in 1946.

He still wanted his own career, so departed and joined the “Chicago Journal of Commerce” as a columnist. About this time television was making itself felt in the media and he saw opportunity. So while still in Chicago, he jumped to NBC and ABC to cover politics. He was the first broadcaster on TV business news.

In 1961 he succeeded his father as editor-in-chief of the Kiplinger newsletter that were collectively renamed, “Kiplinger Personal Finance.” He also became involved as a member of the board of directors in a number of community projects.

About Gerret Van S. Copeland. Gerret is the son of Lammot duPont Copeland, the 11th president of duPont and his wife, Pamela Cunningham duPont. Both parents are deceased. The du Pont family members are no longer active in management of the duPont business. Lammot du Pont Copeland was the last family member to head the firm and hestepped down in 1968.

It is estimated that the family members, on a whole, control about 20% of the company’s stock, thus, the can still exert their influence on the operations of the great company. The duPont family heirs who remain shareholders receive a private meeting once a year with senior executive and management about the status of the company.

The Copeland’s are involved in a number of community charities and projects in the home state of Delaware.

In the early 1990s, the Copeland’s (Gerret and Tatiana) bought out the interests of the other partners, renamed the winery property, “Bouchaine Vineyards,” and set about to totally upgrade the facilities again.

When I first arrived in Napa County back in 1984, I visited the winery to solicit use of their label on my first wine label poster-map featuring 85 labels from different Napa Valley wineries. I received their permission and the label is displayed on my first wine-label poster-map. I have witnessed the growth and changes in the look of Bouchaine over the years.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Ralph Fly jr said...

Boon Fly was the father of Camillus Sidney (Buck)Fly who was a frontier photographer. His studio was located in Tombstone, AZ right next to the well known OK Corral. He is best known for photographing Geronimos surrender. In fact, just about any photo of Geronimo was taken by him. His photos reside in the Smithsonian.

6:20 AM  

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