On Friday, Jack had an interview with an export company in Sacramento. The founder grew up in the delta and knows the Heringers. I put together the following summary so that Jack would have some background on the family.
My dad, your grandfather, was the youngest of eight sons of Stephen and Mabel Heringer. During the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the six surviving sons and five first cousins farmed together. My dad was Richard (Dick) Heringer. The other five surviving brothers were Fred, Les, James (Scotty?), Wilfred (Bill?) and Bob. Two brothers, Joe and Stephen, died at a young age.
My dad’s cousins, Stephen’s brother John Heringer’s kids, were Donald, John, Jr, (Bud), Alta Genette (the only girl), George and Ned.
It gets complicated quickly when you start to talk about knowing the Heringers. Between the eleven surviving families, there were almost 60 people in my generation. My sisters and I are the youngest of this generation. I really only knew Uncle Bob’s kids (Pete, Doug, Diane, Robbie), Les’ boys (Steve, Les and Duke) and Fred’s kids (Haig and Christine).
Les’ son Stephen and his sons are the ones that are now involved in Heringer Wines.
Fred and Les were particularly prominent in the California agricultural community. Fred was very involved in the California Farm Bureau Federation. He served as President of the California Farm Bureau Federation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Les helped organize and provided leadership to many Agricultural organizations including California Tomato Growers Assn., California Canners and Growers, Council of California Growers, Valley Nitrogen Producers, UC Davis Advisory Board and The California Agricultural Leadership Program.
After college and a short tour in the army, Dick started farming in Northern California with his brother Fred. I was raised on this farm. It was 2,000 acres of peaches, pears and prunes.
In the delta, Heringers grew mostly tomatoes, sugar beets and alfalfa around Clarksburg and pears around Courtland.. They had a large alfalfa-pelleting mill that exported pellets around the world. At one point, the Heringers farmed over 6,000 acres.
The Heringers were very involved in popularizing the use of the mechanical tomato harvester.
My dad and a number of the other brothers and cousins sold out of the farming operation in the late 1970s. The remaining family got in financial trouble in the mid-1980s. This was probably due to the amount of debt that they took on to buy out the other family members. Most of the property was sold to a large Southern California corporation.