At a dinner earlier this month hosted at the Robert Cabral Ag Center, six new members were inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The 2020-21 Hall of Fame Inductees were: Jim Clare, Pacific Southwest Irrigation; Manuel J. Dutra, Jr.; David Phillips, Michael David Winery; Michael Phillips, Michael David Winery; and Aldo and Rosalie “Rosie” Togninali, posthumous induction.
“The San Joaquin County Ag Hall of Fame honors those who have contributed so much to a great part of our heritage,” said Timm Quinn, interim CEO of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce. “Our Agricultural Hall of Fame marks the efforts and history of those who have gone before, those who have graced our homes and enriched our hearts and those who in the days past laid the foundation upon which we build for today and tomorrow. The agricultural community is a wonderful example of people working together and continuing a tradition that has been handed down throughout the years from people who had to sacrifice a great deal, both personally and physically, to nurture our land and our community.”
Honoree Jim Clare is an Escalon resident; posthumous inductees Aldo and Rosie Togninali lived for many years in the Collegeville area.
Jim Clare was born March 19, 1950 and grew up in Bakersfield, California. From the time he was 14 years old he worked on his family farms every summer. He attended Bakersfield High School and continued his education at Bakersfield Junior College. Jim transferred to U.C. Davis where he obtained his Bachelors of Science in Animal Science.
In 1974 Jim began working for Rain for Rent in Bakersfield, California, was transferred to Woodland, California and after three years was sent to Stockton to open a new Rain for Rent store. After 11 years he left and started his own company Golden State Irrigation in Stockton in 1985. For many years he created, designed, built and implemented irrigation systems throughout California and Arizona. In 2003 Jim along with Gary Simas, started Pacific Southwest Irrigation Company.
Jim has been a pioneer and industry leader since the late 1970’s. In 1978 he installed the first commercially successful row crop drip irrigation system in the Central Valley. By 1980 drip irrigation became state-of-the-art for vineyards. He is one of the foremost experts in drip irrigation application for both row and permanent crops, portable irrigation systems and filtration systems, and pumping. Along with the design and installation of irrigation systems Jim has expanded into a pump company, an irrigation equipment rental business and more recently the manufacturing of sand media filters.
He was a member of the California Agricultural Leadership Form Class of 2019. He has served on various committees including: Modesto Jr. College Agriculture Business Advisory Committee, Modesto Jr. College Agriculture Business Grant Foundation Committee and supports the Modesto Junior College Irrigation Department. Jim has invited numerous college agriculture classes to tour his facility and started an internship program offering students from Modesto Jr. College, San Joaquin Delta College, University of the Pacific, UC Davis, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and opportunity to work at Pacific Southwest Irrigation. Many of these students find employment with Pacific Southwest Irrigation upon graduation. Jim was a founder and Director of the California Irrigation Dealer Association.
Over the years Jim has given his time and resources to many within the community. He has served as a City of Escalon Recreation Commissioner as well as sitting on the Farmington Fire Board of Directors. He was also the Escalon High School Girls Volleyball Assistant coach for 18 years. He is a tireless supporter of local FFA and 4-H members in purchasing animals at the San Joaquin County Fair and San Joaquin County Ag Fest for over 40 years. Pacific Southwest Irrigation has been a member of the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau since its formation in 2003.
Jim lives in Escalon with his wife Ellen. They have raised four children.
Aldo and Rosie Togninali
Aldo Togninali was born on July 20, 1926, in Stockton California. He grew up on a farm growing rice and tending milk cows. In the mid 1950’s Aldo and his father started farming in the Collegeville area. Aldo passed away on May 15, 2007.
Rosalie La Rossa Togninali, known as “Rosie”, was born July 20, 1931 in Stockton. The La Rossa family farmed in Stockton and grew produce. Rosie passed away on April 23, 2021.
Aldo and Rosie met at an Italian Catholic Federation event, where mutual friends set them up. They hit it off and were married on June 29, 1952. They eventually had two children, Marilyn and Larry.
Aldo was a very quiet man, but very well respected for his amazing work ethic. Togninali Farms grew mostly row crops and field crops on over 2,000 acres. Aldo could be seen driving his D4 Caterpillar tractor late into the night and up at dawn to get started on the tomato harvester. Before drip irrigation became as prevalent as it is today, Aldo got together with irrigation consultant Jim Clare and discussed the pros and cons on installing drip irrigation. After much thought Aldo decided to try it on his tomatoes. The gamble was a success and many tomato farmers in the area took note. If you look around the county it was the successes of pioneers like the Togninali’s that resulted in most tomato farms using drip irrigation. While Togninali Farms was growing and Aldo was busy working the crops, Rosie was taking care of the books, and the marketing of the produce and hay crop. Rosie was also very active in the California Women for Agriculture San Joaquin Chapter where she was celebrated as Woman of the Year in 1995 and received the Cornucopia Award in 2017. During her time volunteering for CWA, Rosie headed up any and all fundraising events. She sat on the Bequest Management Fund Committee which helps to fund the SJCWA scholarships. Rosie participated and represented CWA everywhere. From the Stockton Ag Expo committee meetings, the Stockton Asparagus Festival, CWA/Fresno State Ag Booster BBQ, hosting the Hospitality Room at AgVenture, helping build exhibit booths used at the San Joaquin County Fair and California State Fair. The Togninali’s were members of many agricultural organizations such as the San Joaquin Farm Bureau, the San Joaquin County Cherry Growers, the California Tomato Growers Association and the California Sugar Beet Growers Association.
When they built their new home in the Collegeville area they included a full basement for entertaining. The agricultural community was always grateful that the Togninali’s provided a safe space for groups to meet and gather free of charge. Rosie and Aldo were a part of many of the local Italian clubs in the area. They included the Italian Catholic Federation, Italian Gardeners’ Society, the Italian Athletic Club, the Waterloo Gun and Bocce Club, the Lodi Italian Men’s Club, Good Times Accordion Club and the Associazione Liguri Nel Mondo. And after Aldo passed in 2007, the family became big supporters of Alzheimer’s research and has participated in the Alzheimer’s Walk in Stockton every year.
Aldo and Rosie earned their living by farming but lived their lives supporting the agricultural community. They just did the right things, volunteered their time and talents, and never wanted to be in the spotlight. Their generosity helped many farmers discover new agricultural techniques and helped spread the love of agriculture throughout the community.
Manuel J. Dutra Jr.
Manuel J. Dutra Jr. was born July 15, 1923 in Patterson, CA and at the age of 2 his family moved to Tracy. At the age of 7 Manuel started milking cows on his family ranch in Tracy. Over his life Manuel has done many things in the agricultural field. He was a dairyman for 40 years with Registered Jersey cows and was recognized as one of the top Jersey herds in California for production and Type in the 1970’s. In 1979 he was named California’s Jersey Senior Breeder of the Year. Manuel is the six time undefeated World’s Hand Milking Champion. Manuel was one of the original members that came up with the concept and vision of having a milking parlor at the San Joaquin County Fair to help promote the local dairy industry. Manuel has lived in San Joaquin County for 95 years of his life. He and his wife Carm take great pride in his property of 65 years in North Stockton, you can see the big red barn on the corner of Lower Sacramento Road and Eight Mile Road. He has been married to his wife Carmelita since Feb. 16, 1946, celebrating their 75th anniversary earlier this year.
David Phillips is the co-owner of Michael David Winery. David spent his childhood farming the same land that is now home to the winery. Shortly after graduating from U.C. Davis in 1987, David went on a worldwide tour of wine regions in Europe, South Australia and New Zealand, then went to work for an international cork company before returning to help his older brother Michael run the family business in 1989.
With a focus on distributor growth, David spent the 1990’s traveling around the country acquiring distributor accounts and building brand awareness of his family’s wines. By 2002, Michael David wines were distributed in all 50 states and David’s focus moved abroad. These days David and his wife Corene are the primary ambassadors for Michael David Winery and travel to spread the word across United States and the world.
Michael Phillips is the founder and co-owner of Michael David Winery. During his upbringing, Michael farmed with his father - driving tractors at the age of 10 and helping with grape harvests each year. After graduating from U.C. Davis in 1975, Michael started planting vineyards of varietals not typical of Lodi and began winemaking as a home winemaker. His Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards are amongst the oldest Lodi vineyards for the varietals. In 1976, he built a fruit stand on his family farm on Highway 12, which is still standing, and an integral part of the current tasting room experience today. Michael established a bonded winery in 1984, known today as Michael David Winery.
Michael’s goal is to show the word that wines made from Lodi grapes can compete against wines from anywhere in the world. To promote the quality of Lodi wine, and his own wines in particular, Michael spends a lot of time traveling the United States focused on distributor relations with his wife Kristy.
Michael David Winery, originally “Phillips Vineyards” was established in 1984 after years of growing grapes for other wineries. Today, not only does all of their fruit go into their own wines, they also purchase grapes from a number of Lodi growers. Michael David Family Foundation was founded in 2012 and has donated over one million dollars to the local San Joaquin community including contributions to: Loel Senior Center, GOT Kids, San Joaquin Cancer Kids, the San Joaquin Historical Society, Lodi Adopt a Child, and the World of Wonders Science Museum. Since 2013, the Foundation has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to local students continuing their education in agriculture. The Phillips family are major supporters of the San Joaquin Ag Fest Junior Livestock Auction.
Founded on Feb. 21, 1901, the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce speaks for thousands of local businesspeople. For 120 years, the Chamber has been the authoritative voice in all business matters throughout the Central Valley. The mission of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce is to aggressively develop and promote an economically vibrant business community. For more information, visit www.stocktonchamber.org.