An Oakley city councilman has self-published a collection of photos documenting attempts to preserve a facet of the town's agricultural heritage.

Vice Mayor Kevin Romick recently announced the completion of "Saving Ancient Vines in Oakley," a 20-page, hardback book chronicling the transplantation of approximately 2,100 Alicante Bouschet grapevines that were on a site where preparations to build a power plant began this summer.

Romick had the text and photos reproduced by Shutterfly, an online company that produces personalized stationery.

The focus of the book is a vineyard that was on the DuPont property along Bridgehead Road where Cline Cellars winery continues to harvest grapes.

When it became clear this spring that the power plant project would become a reality, Romick said he suggested that the city move the vines -- all of them more than 100 years old -- to an area it owns on Walnut Meadows Drive in the Vintage Parkway development.

Although part of the property has been set aside to protect a lizard species, a nearby parcel was nothing but a weed patch, Romick said.

The City Council agreed to lease that 5.7 acres to Cline Cellars so the Sonoma County-based company could continue maintaining the vines in their new location.

When a vineyard manager showed up in March with a backhoe and flatbed tractor trailer, Romick was there with camera in hand to capture the three-week process of digging up, transporting and replanting the Alicante Bouschet vines along with about 400 equally old ones of the Mourvèdre variety.


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Alicante Bouschet grapes, which produce a deep red juice, are used as an additive to intensify the color of pale red wines.

The vines were no worse for the wear after the move: They produced roughly 1 ton of grapes for harvesters this summer.

As Romick began uploading the panoramic photos he had taken with his Olympus and cellphone camera to the Shutterfly website, he realized it offered the option of compiling them into a book.

"I figured, 'Hey, what better way of sharing the pictures and preserving the success we had with transplanting grapes? What better way to preserve our bit of history than to put it in a book?' " he said.

Although the volume is a pricey $30 if purchased through Shutterfly, a few copies are available through the gift shop at Black Bear Diner for $20, Romick said.

He said he doesn't receive any proceeds from the sales.

The book is the first of two Romick has published; the other is a pictorial account of his next-door neighbor planting a vineyard.

Asked whether there are others in the pipeline, he acknowledges "there's possibilities."

Romick noted that he climbed atop City Hall to get a wide-angle shot of the Centro-Mart shopping center before an overhaul of the property began, and since then he has continued photographing the progress.

He laughs at the suggestion of authoring a full-length book, however.

"I'll leave that to my mother," he said, noting that she has a blog and used to write a newspaper column.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141.