Syar Industries was started in 1937 by CM (Tony) Syar. Now owned by his sons Jim and Denton Syar, the aggregate business has operations in ten counties throughout Northern California.
Although their primary business is providing aggregate materials, Syar is also heavily involved in the agriculture industry. They began purchasing grapes in 1986 and now have 350 acres of wine grapes in Sonoma County. Additionally, they have 1,000 acres of grazing land in Solano County and 1,000 acres of farmland in Yolo County where they rotate row crops and also grow 100 acres of almonds.
Of their Certified Sustainable Sonoma County vineyards, 310 acres are on their main ranch in the Russian River Valley, 20 acres are adjacent to these in the Dry Creek Valley and they have an additional 20 acres in Alexander Valley.
Syar grows mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, growing twice as much Chardonnay as Pinot. They also grow smaller amounts of Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel. They sell the majority of their fruit to Rodney Strong and supply all the fruit for Rodney Strong’s Davis Bynum Chardonnay. They also sell grapes to Moshin Vineyards, Selby Winery, Toad Hollow and Duckhorn Wine Company.
Syar originally purchased the land which included vineyards for aggregate mining. The places where they have removed gravel now form 200 acres of deep water lakes that are home to numerous species of waterfowl, including a resident population of white pelicans. Because of the lakes and the nesting perches that Syar has installed, they have a large population of ospreys.
Syar is constantly replanting, replacing 1020 acres of vines per year to maintain the viability of their vineyards and meet the wineries current needs. Additionally, Syar has also planted tens of thousands of native species throughout their property to create riparian forests around their deep water lakes.
Rand Dericco, Syar’s vineyard manager, has been working for the company since the 80’s and has worked on the same ranch since 1970. He said one of the big differences between the aggregate industry and wine industry is that the construction industry is very competitive.
“The wine industry is more willing to share with each other,” said Dericco, “share with their neighbors and help out their neighbors”
“In the agriculture industry, we all need to stand together,” said Dericco. “Every day there’s one more piece of legislation or another attempt at legislation taking property rights or our ability as an ag business to stay profitable and sustainable.”
Dericco said one of the ways agriculture can stand together is through the Farm Bureau. He said Farm Bureau is extremely important because agriculture needs a strong presence in Sacramento in addition to the local level. Farm Bureau works at both of these levels to support agriculture and to help protect our industry from legislation that many times is not ag friendly.
“Agriculture is important everywhere, we feed the world,” said Dericco. “In Sonoma County we supply the world’s best bottle of wine to go with that food. The wine industry in Sonoma County is also important because it’s the driving force behind our local economy. It’s also what keeps us a rural county.”
Dericco said most people don’t realize that Syar is more than an aggregate company even though they have 350 acres of vineyard and 26 full time employees in Sonoma County and more than 2,000 acres of farmland in other counties. He said as a vineyard business they keep a relatively low profile with a goal to produce the best fruit possible for the wineries they do business with.
For more information visit syar.com.