Early Explorers in Alta and Baja California—1518 to 1620—Alta California claimed by the Spanish Empire
1518: Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés sails from Cuba to Mexico, discovers Aztec Empire and Baja California Peninsula. Claims territory for Spanish Empire.
1540: First Mission grapevines are planted in Mexico.
1542: Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo is the first to explore and chart San Luis Obispo County Coastline and dunes.
1602: Pearl fisherman Sebastián Vizcaíno explores and surveys Alta California for the Spanish empire. Names landmarks: San Diego, Point Reyes, and Monterey.
1620: Cuttings of Mission grapevines are brought to the territory now known as New Mexico.
The Missions Era—Years of Prosperity—1769 to 1822—Franciscan Padres bring Viticulture to the Central Coast Local economy driven by Mission Agriculture and Trade
1769: Don Gaspar de Portola explores the Central Coast and claims Alta California for King Carlos V of Spain.
1769: Sea and land expeditions are planned for the Pacific Coast of Alta California led by Don Gaspar de Portola and Junípero Serra. Their military and religious journeys begin in Loreto, Baja California early in the year.
1769: Junípero Serra is appointed Presidente of the Missions of Alta California. He founded the first nine of 21 missions before his death in 1784. The Franciscan padres brought agriculture and viticulture to San Luis Obispo County. They established cattle and sheep ranching.
1772: Mission San Luis Obispo is founded by Father Serra.
1777: Father Serra sends requests to the governor for grape cuttings to be sent on the next supply ship. They arrived on May 16, 1778, in San Diego.
1778: The first grapevine cuttings are planted in the Mission San Juan Capistrano vineyard. Cuttings from this vineyard will be planted in future Mission vineyards along the Camino Real.
1782: The first harvest of grapes is at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Winemaking techniques used local materials, cowhides and pig skins to store wines.
1797: Mission San Miguel is established on July 25th by Friar Fermín Francisco de Lasuén the successor to Junípero as Presidente of the Missions of Alta California. Mission San Miguel has the distinction of being one of the few missions founded at the request of the Native Americans themselves members of the Salinan tribe.
1800: Beaches near San Simeon are used for ships for landing and embarking with cargos of hides and tallow; trails are built along old Indian trails from Mission San Miguel to the Bay of San Simeon.
1800: Cattle, sheep and grain farming fuel the local economy in San Luis Obispo County providing food and raw materials to the Indians, the Franciscans, the Mission Guards and the general population.
1804: The Mission grape vineyard is planted adjacent to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa by 1804. The size of the vineyard is estimated to be 40 acres, second only in size to the Mission San Gabriel vineyards which numbered at least five with over 163,000 vines under the tenure of Father Jose Zavildea (1806 to 1817). Both wineries produce large quantities of wine.
1804: Two vineyards were planted for Mission San Miguel – one between the Mission and the Salinas River and the other in Vineyard Springs located on 18 acres northeast of the Mission.
1806: Mission San Miguel – twenty-seven huts built for living quarters for Indians.
1808: Mission San Miguel – sacristy, granary, a storage and carpenter room built.
1810: Mission San Miguel – thousands of adobe bricks are made for the construction of the present Mission structure.
1815: Rancho del Aguage – house erected on a 22-acre site with a vineyard known as “La Mayor”. This vineyard was three miles from the Mission San Miguel. The name Vineyard Canyon is associated with this site. A three-room adobe was constructed in the middle of the vineyard to house the vineyardist who cared for the orchard, vineyard and garden of the Mission.
1815: Mission San Miguel is providing wine and wool for Mission Guard troops, and wine production becomes an important commodity supporting the missions.
1816-1818: Mission San Miguel is completed by the Salinan Tribe.
1818-1821: Mission San Miguel is painted and the murals on the inside walls are painted by the Salinan Tribe under the supervision of Spanish painter, Estevan Munras. These are the only murals painted by Native Americans that still exist in any California mission.
1819: The construction of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is completed. Members of the Chumash Tribe assist in building the Mission.
The Mexican Period—Land Grants and Ranchos—1822 to 1846—The Secularization of the Missions and the Destruction of the Local Economy
1822: Mexico gains independence from Spain.
1828: The Mexican governor publishes a plan to secularize the twenty-one missions in California.
1830: Laws enacted to remove the Franciscan missionaries from the missions, and appoint both a priest to deal with the spiritual affairs of the mission and an administrator to manage the mission property.
1832: Ranchos become the dominant institution of Mexican California. Many were known for cattle and sheep, others were planted with grain.
1833: Secularization Act is passed by the Mexican Congress, providing for the immediate break-up of the missions and the transfer of missions lands to settlers and Indians.
1833: Mexican government passes the Act of November 20 causing land to revert to the public domain; many lands are distributed as grants.
1834: Mission San Miguel becomes the property of the Mexican government.
1835: San Luis Obispo Mission sold to Captain John Wilson for $510 by Governor Pio Pico. It became the first courthouse and jail in San Luis Obispo County. The Mission Vineyards are leased to growers for the next 20 years.