A few years ago, Sandy and David Brewer of Boccebrew were at a party in Tiburon. It was a good day with people enjoying
the food and wine, when the host invited the guests to join him at the
bocceball court in the back yard.
"We loved it," Sandy Brewer recalled. "We had
a glass of wine in one hand and could still play the game. It
seemed like a perfect game for wineries."
David Brewer had had a landscape construction business since 1978,
so he felt that bocce ball could fit into the framework of his
operation. Sandy Brewer had a job in import / export, but for some
time had been wanting to start her own business. "So I
thought, let's build bocce ball courts. I checked the Internet,
and nobody was doing it," she said.
Well, what is bocce ball anyway? It's a game played on a
hard-packed surface -- usually a mixture of clay and oyster shell.
There are international regulations for the courts. The standard
is a court 91 feet long by 13 feet wide, but a court 60 feet by 10 feet
is big enough for all levels of play. The court itself is
basically a wooden box, with side and back walls of pressure-treated
wood, supported by posts or bolted to concrete walls.
"Bocce ball is a real social sport, that's what made us think
of going to wineries with the idea," Sandy Brewer said.
"It's a sport for everybody, young and old and you can have fun
playing it while enjoying good food and wine."
Besides wineries, bocce ball courts have been built by
restaurants, retirement facilities and individuals. Boccebrew recently built a court for Landmark Vineyards in Sonoma County.
"We feel that bocce ball goes with the whole atmosphere and feeling
of a winery," she said. She added that courts can be developed to
meet individual winery specifications. "It just depends on what
people want. We can also fit the courts into decks, arbors and
other garden projects."
David Brewer said one important thing in
constructing the court is to protect against gopher and mole
damage. "We lay down a steel mesh hardware cloth, and that
seems to work," he said. "The important thing is to make sure
the court will last through all weather. You have to have good
drainage. You don't want the court to turn into a mud puddle," he
He added that when dealing with a client, he likes to find out
what sort of court they want in terms of size and use. " A lot of
people don't really know what the game is about, so you have to start
from square one."
David Brewer said what people wanted was to attract picnickers and
people who enjoyed being together as a family. "The bocce
ball side of our business has really taken off," he said.
"It's now about one-third of our overall business, and I still
don't believe we have really reached our potential market. I'm putting
together a website and I have the germ of an idea for a video teaching
people how to build their own courts."
He said that he could also refinish old rundown courts and bring
them back up to speed for quality bocce ball.
Brewer said the costs for construction, depending on the condition
of the site, was about $12 a square foot for the court. It takes
about ten days to build a court and he said maintenance was
simple. "Anybody who has taken care of a clay tennis court
can do it. Basically, it's like dragging the infield for a baseball
David Brewer can also do just about anything needed in the way of
landscape or outdoor carpentry. He also does stonewalls and
"It's just been fun watching the wineries and other
businesses become interested in bocce ball. It's a fun game that can be
played while you are enjoying good food and drink." he said.