Russia establishes Fort Ross in Alta California.
Mexico, including Alta California and Baja California, declare their independence from Spain. All Spanish and native Americans become Mexican citizens.
The Mexican government encourages trade with foreigners in contrast to the Spanish government’s policies of isolation who had excluded all international merchants except the Spanish. Explorers including trappers, scouts and adventures came to Alta California.
The first Mexican land grant is made. More than 500 land grants are made to soldiers, friends and relatives of the California governors between 1823 and 1846. These grants are identified as ranchos, cattle raising ranches based on land grants.
Jediah Strong Smith is the first American to arrive in California by land.
The 21 Spanish missions are secularized by the Mexican government. Most padres return to their homelands, mission buildings are abandoned and agricultural lands are granted to new owners.Vineyards and winemaking traditions pass from the Catholic Church to civilian hands. Although many vineyards are abandoned; mission grape cuttings are planted by many farmers and cattle ranchers in new vineyards on their ranchos.
The wine trade begins in the Los Angeles Pueblo. French immigrants settle in Southern California in and around the Los Angeles Pueblo. Jean Louis Vignes (1780 – 1862), born in a village in the Bordeaux region of France, plants a vineyard in the pueblo where the railroad station stands today and purchases 100 acres of land east of the Los Angeles River. He becomes known as Don Luis Aliso. He builds his El Aliso Winery with adobe bricks, and sends to Bordeaux for native grape varieties. Vignes, a cooper by trade, soon develops wine and brandy making techniques producing quality wines. Family members and friends soon join the “French colony” in the Los Angeles Pueblo. French settlers also became important in the development of vineyards and winemaking in San Luis Obispo County.
William Wolfskill (1798-1866), an American born in Kentucky, arrives at the Los Angeles Pueblo and buys an existing vineyard. He soon purchases additional land, plants vines and establishes his own winery. Within 20 years his wines are winning medals at the California State Fair in 1856 and 1859. By 1860 his winery is producing 50,000 gallons annually.
The successful Spanish economic model of large scale agriculture on mission lands (including farming grains, fruits, orchards, vegetables, cattle and sheep) developed by the Spanish padres, collapses. The Mexican economy moves from cooperative farming to raising cattle on large family owned ranchos. They traded in hides and tallow for cloth, dishes, hardware, furniture, lumber, tools – many from China. There was no international market for beef until the gold rush era.
The first layman to grow grapes in the north of Alta California is the original commandante of Alta California, Pedro Fages, who planted a vineyard in Monterey in 1783. The second important layman is General Mariano G. Vallejo who presided over the secularization of the Mission in Sonoma took possession of the local mission vineyards in 1835.
John A. Sutter arrives in California.
Don Luis Aliso (Vignes) ships his wines to San Francisco with stops in Santa Barbara and Monterey, to develop distribution channels for selling his wine. Historian Stuart Douglass Byles notes that wine was made in Los Angeles and Southern California regions and drunk in San Francisco for most of the 19th century. San Luis Obispo County has provided grapes to Northern and Southern California winemakers since the 1880s.
Wagon trains carrying new settlers seeking new homes and opportunities begin arriving from the midwest between 1841 and 1847.
The first discovery of gold in California is in Los Angeles County, east of Newhall.
The doctrine of Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States has the right to expand throughout the American continents, is declared as justified and inevitable.
The Bear Flag Revolt planned by rough and ready frontiersmen, captures Mexican General Mariano G. Vallejo at his home in Sonoma. They occupy the Sonoma barracks and declare California an independent republic.
The Mexican-American War started over a territorial dispute and ended with Mexico’s defeat without a shot fired. Mexico had to give up claims to territory that now includes the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas in a settlement known as the Treaty of Guadalupe which Hildalgo signed on February 2, 1848.
The population of San Francisco is 500.
The California Gold Rush (1848-1855) brings over 300,000 people to California, seeking wealth and financial security, following the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma. Most travel from the eastern United States but thousands from Latin America, Europe, Australia and China join the migration. The discovery of gold dramatically changed the history of California, the United States and the world; it stimulated economies and improved transportation around the world. Many experienced grape growers and winemakers from around the world settled in California and changed the landscape to cultivate many grape varieties.
Don Luis Aliso (Vignes) now owns 40,000 vines in and around the Los Angeles Pueblo; the largest vineyard in Alta California, El Aliso Winery is producing 1,000 barrels of wine annually.
California becomes the 31st state in the United States on September 9.
California’s population has increased to 224,000.
French immigrants in Santa Clara County, located in Northern California, plant many varieties imported from Europe and marketed by nurserymen who have traveled to California from New England. Zinfandel vines arrive by ship in San Francisco Bay. Zinfandel becomes popular and is heavily planted in San Luis Obispo County.
Railroads are built from east to west in North and South America. The Panama Railway, spanning the Isthmus of Panama is completed. Railroad construction is key to moving grapes and wine throughout California. Chinese immigrants in San Luis Obispo County helped build the California railroads from north to south.
1,500,000 grapevines are planted in California.
Agoston Haraszthy buys 560 acres in Sonoma County and plants 280 imported grape varieties over the next two years. He builds his winery and names it Buena Vista.
The Los Angeles Vineyard Society was founded to establish the Anaheim Colony in the Santa Ana River Valley. The colony is designed with 20 acre lots planted in 1,000 cuttings of Mission grapes per acre (sourced from William Wolfskill’s vineyard.) Over 400,000 cuttings are planted. The participants are primarily Germans who migrated to find gold in the San Francisco area. Most had never farmed. Each of the 47 wineries were separate entities competing with one another.
2,265,000 grapevines are planted in California.
Matthew Keller (Don Mateo) settled in the Los Angeles Pueblo in 1851 and built his home and winery at Alameda and Aliso Street after purchasing 20 acres of vines of 50 year old vines. He planted 150 acres in his Rising Sun Vineyard south of the Pueblo. He published a treatise, The Grapes and Wine of Los Angeles and established vineyards in the hills above present day Santa Monica. He states that planting a new vineyard costs $10 to $12 per acre, the vines are placed 6 feet apart each way in squares and leaving lanes and margins accessible. 1,100 vines are planted to the acre yielding 1,000 gallons of wine. His winery produced 50,000 gallons of wine annually.
Agoston Haraszthy’s report on Grape and Wine in California is published by The California State Agricultural Society. He discusses grape varieties and winemaking methods. It is read throughout California.
Frenchman Antoine Delmas has over 105 varieties of grapes among his 350,000 vines near San Jose. Pierre Dallidet begins planting his vineyards in downtown San Luis Obispo and experiments with over 100 varieties of grapes, primarily from France.
3,954,000 grapevines are planted in California.
The Anaheim Colony produces 2,000 gallons of wine after the first harvest
Wine production in California is listed for three counties:
Los Angeles County – 162,980 gallons
San Bernardino & Santa Barbara – 19,000 gallons
San Francisco & Motherlode – 64,000 gallons
Agoston Haraszthy is appointed by California Governor John Downey to a State Commission to study and make recommendations to improve and promote grape growing in California. Many thought California had the potential to become one of the most important wine regions in the world. He traveled to Europe with his family to study vineyards, grape varieties and winemaking in Europe.
Agoston Haraszthy publishes his research in his book Grape Culture, Wines and Wine-making with notes upon Agriculture and Horticulture. He has over 300 varieties among the 100,000 grapevines he collected in his travels and sells them to local vineyardists.
The Homestead Act of 1862 was passed to develop the America West and to stimulate economic growth. A man could acquire a homestead of 160 acres (former federal land) by filing an application, improving the land and filing for deed of title after five years of residence. 500 million acres were granted between 1862 and 1904; 80 million were acquired by farmers but the majority of land went to speculators, cattle owners, miners, loggers and railroads. Many farmers and their families settled in San Luis Obispo County. The Homestead Act remained in effect until 1976.
Two of the earliest vineyardists in San Luis Obispo County, Jacob Grandstaff and Henry Ditmas, homesteaded their land.
The Anaheim Colony produces 300,000 gallons of wine after the fourth harvest.
Railroads were built and completed between California and the East Coast. Grape growers and winemakers are able to ship grapes and wine directly to cities across the country to new markets.
The population of San Francisco reaches 150,000.
Vineyard acreage continues to expand. Wine production rapidly expands in Northern California and becomes equal to Southern California production.
The Anaheim Colony produces 1,250,000 gallons of wine and 100,000 gallons of brandy.
The total vineyard acreage of the Anaheim Colony is 100,000 acres. Wine from Anaheim was sold throughout California. Kohler and Frohling are buyers of much of the wine that is shipped to their San Francisco cellars. However the first signs of disease occur which led to the destruction of the vines.
Pierce Disease destroyed the Anaheim vineyards. Many farmers replaced the vineyards with citrus groves and some relocated to plant vineyards in other parts of California. Vineyardist Gerd Klintworth moves to San Luis Obispo County and becomes a famous grower. His family grows grapes in the Genoseo region for over 100 years.
The German families in the Anaheim Colony focus on planting citrus groves and establishing breweries. They organize and secede from Los Angeles County to form a new county, now known as Orange County.
Wine production in Northern California increases dramatically, out producing Southern California production five to one. Grape growing expands in the many microclimates along the Pacific Coast from Santa Barbara to Napa and Mendocino counties. San Luis Obispo County farmers sell the majority of their harvests to winemakers in both Northern and Southern California.
California Wine Association (CWA) is founded by wealthy and powerful merchants in San Francisco to manage grape production, pricing, and wine distribution in fluctuating economies. Kohler and Frohling are among the most famous wine merchants.