About Brogan Cellars
Deja Vu All Over Again
It's nothing fancy-a bare bones, makeshift winery arranged under a carport roof in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. You will find there's a sense of deja vu at Brogan Cellars, and for a good reason.
Margaret Wierenga has been down this road before. Margi was a teenager when her father, Burt Williams, started making the first Williams Selyem wines in a bathtub in a basement beneath their garage in the late 1970s. For several years she worked at her father's winery in Fulton as a volunteer before taking a paid position in 1993 at the Westside Road facility. In between, she worked in different capacities at Hop Kiln Winery. In 1998, she decided to follow in her father's footsteps and start her own winery.
Brogan Cellars, named after her paternal grandmother, has all the earmarks of a mom and pop operation. 'It's a bootstrap business run on a lean $75,000 startup budget,' she says. Her husband, Mike, who owns a refrigeration company, is a handyman who rigged up her winemaking equipment. They used small old dairy vats for fermenters and purchased most of the other equipment, including a tiny crusher. The barrel-aging room, office and tasting area are in a tight, 800 square-foot converted garage that Wierenga was happy to call home until 2002, when additional space was obtained in Hopland, 30 miles north of Healdsburg.
A Business of Family and Friends
In 2004, Margi and Mike's son James joined Brogan, adding a third generation to the family business. And customers, too, become family at Brogan. During the harvest, many old friends and customers still volunteer to help with the crush.
Margi shares her father's hearty laugh and passion for wine. Those who know her think she has the same natural feel for wine as her father, but her father continues to be prohibited from advising her under the no compete clause included in the sale of his winery. Still, after working closely with him for many years, she is well acquainted with his style and hopes her wines become as good. Soon, she'll be releasing a wine made from her father's fruit called 'My Father's Vineyard.'
A Quest For the Best
Like her father, Margi's main focus has been on acquiring the best grapes she can buy. 'Probably the biggest thing was going after the greatest fruit I can get,' she says. She shares his careful hands on winemaking philosophy and is very particular in the handling of her grapes, from harvest to bottle.
Margi is working on extracting the best from each vineyard and varietal. 'I'm trying to get a feel for what I want,' she says. 'A large percent of winemaking is in the vineyard, so I'm looking for vineyards that have the quality of fruit I want and growers we can work with.'
Her long association with Lone Redwood Ranch in the Russian River Valley has produced outstanding wines through the years. And she's been fortunate to tap into several other good sources, including the Summa Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, the Benovia Vineyard (formerly known as the Cohn Vineyard), Teldeschi Vineyards, Buena Tierra, Centanni Ranch, Lingenfelder, and her father's Morning Dew Ranch in Philo.
Most of her output sells to an ever-growing customer list. Wierenga intends to hold production at 1,500 cases. 'Thanks to all of our friends and customers who have and continue to support us,' Wierenga says. 'We will do our best for you.'