• WHERE: Pope Valley Winery, Vineyards & Tasting Room, 6307 Pope Valley Road, Pope Valley
• HOURS: Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: Former Manteca Waterslides owner Budge Brown commits 10 percent of his gross revenue - not profit - to fight breast cancer
• FROM MANTECA: It is a 2 1/2 hour, 123-mile drive from Manteca taking Highway 29 toward Napa off Interstate 80
• MORE INFO: Go to www.cleavagecreek.com or call 888-295-1280
POPE VALLEY — Budge Brown spent 31 seasons spreading joy among hundreds of thousands of people who stopped by the Manteca Waterslides.
Now the farmer who gave birth to the modern water park in California and helped make Manteca Waterslides a household name for generations in the north state has spent the past three years helping fund cutting-edge breast cancer research. He’s doing it by giving 10 percent of the gross sales of his Pope Valley-based Cleavage Valley wines to help combat breast cancer. It’s in honor of the woman he describes as “phenomenal” who passed away in 2005 from breast cancer - his beloved wife Arlene.
To date more than $73,000 has gone to breast cancer research including:
•Some $40,000 to help establish an integrative oncology research center for breast cancer at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash. The outpatient clinic provides state-of-the-art naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine treatment and the integrated management of cancer patients.
•The expenditure of $17,500 to fund the integrated treatment of two breast cancer patients.
•Paying $14,800 toward the purchase of Dedicated Breast MRI technology for the Sutter Health Breast Cancer Center in Santa Rosa.
“Women should be able to pick their own course of treatment,” Brown said.
What also makes the Cleavage Winery Creek wine unique are its labels. Every year different breast cancer survivors from 170 applicants are chosen to have their portraits adorn the labels. The winery’s website tells the story of each cancer survivor with the intent to give others fighting the disease courage and hope.
Brown also believes the location of the winery - in idyllic Pope Valley to the west of Lake Berryessa - also makes it more than worth the visit.
“This is like what Napa Valley used to be until it became crowded,” Brown said.
Pope Valley was also one of his wife’s favorite places.
His determination to do whatever he could to help find a cure for the cancer that took his wife of 48 years prompted Brown to buy Cleavage Creek wine label. His first release was on Oct. 15, 2007 with 2,000 cases being produced the first year.
The latest release involves six wines: a Napa Cabernet, a Napa Petite Sirah, a Chardonnay, a Merlot-Shiraz, a Secret White, and a Secret Red. They can be purchased at the winery, via the website and in select retail establishments. Wines are priced in the $18 to $50 per bottle range.
Brown, on his website, notes that he hopes as people find out about Cleavage Creek and the motivation behind it that if it reminds just one person going for a check-up, do a self-examination, or become informed then he’s accomplishing his goal of trying to save lives.
The fine wines have secured a multitude of medals in prestigious national and international competitions during the past three years.
The winery is also a tribute to his wife Arlene. Her favorite flower - daffodils - have been planted 120,000 strong on the rolling countryside. There are also 10,000 irises, California poppies, thousands of tulips, and numerous wild flowers.
“I want people to visit Cleavage Creek and celebrate life and health,” Brown said.
Brown has farmed for over 60 years. The Manteca Waterslides was born part out of necessity and part out of ingenuity.
The dirt sold to the state to help provide a raised southbound lanes of Interstate 5 through Lathrop to serve as an emergency flood levee by plugging in underpasses in the event the San Joaquin River levees broke left homes with a couple of big holes.
He noticed a small water slide on a trip to Hawaii and returned home to fashion one out of concrete.
With that Manteca Waterslides and Oakwood Lake Resort was born.
During the 31 seasons Manteca Waterslides was open, Brown employed between 175 and 600 Manteca youth giving them summer jobs.
“It was very rewarding to be able to help kids learn how to work and to give them jobs,” Brown said of the experience.
Brown, who now lives in Nevada, said he often runs into people traveling who have heard of Manteca and specifically the water slides.
The farthest from Manteca that he ran into someone who knew of them was while traveling in Italy.
“We got people from all over the world that stopped at the water slides on their way back from Yosemite,” Brown said.
And it still happens even though the water slides have been closed since 2004.
Brown said he was pleased that a water park might again grace Manteca.
“It’s gratifying to know how much people enjoyed the water slides,” Brown said.
Brown was a long-time neighbor to Rudy Dell’Osso whose son Ron has successfully added his own tourism attraction - the Dell’Osso Farms Pumpkin Maze as well as Holidays on the Farm complete with a snow tubing hill and ice skating rink.
“Farmers are pretty ingenious,” Brown said with a chuckle.