United States of America Card


California history is rich with the stories of men and women arriving in busy ports on the California coast or crossing the Sierra mountains on overland travels from the east by train or Conestoga wagon during the 19th Century. California became part of the territory of the United States in 1848, and on September 9, 1850, was admitted to the union as a state. San Luis Obispo County was designated as one of the original 27 counties in February 1850 in preparation for statehood. The California gold rush brought over 300,000 people from all over the world to the state. Many began to migrate south to find a pleasant place to settle and establish a farm or a craft.

Impact Of The Wine History Of San Luis Obispo County

  • First in York Mountain to access the General Land Office of the United  States of America in San Francisco to apply for a land grant of 160 acres. The date of application is unknown but was usually five years before the certificate of land title was signed and issued under the Homestead Act. Jacob Grandstaff most likely applied in 1870.
  • He was first to homestead 160 acres on what is now known as York Mountain and to build his home, plant orchards and gardens, and the first vineyard. His certificate of ownership, signed by President Ullyess S. Grant, was granted on the fifteenth day of December in 1875.
  • The Grandstaff Mission Grape Vineyard is the first vineyard documented on York Mountain.
  • First to establish a fruit stand on his property to sell vegetables, grapes and apples to travelers on the trail between Paso Robles and the Cayucos/Cambria Coast. His fruit stand became a place of rest and conversation for weary travelers and their animals.
  • Grandstaff is one of the early blacksmiths in Paso Robles. The date he opened his business is unknown at this time.
  • Participated in local government and education in the new school district named the Ascension District.
  • Served as Superintendent of the Ascension School from 1879 to 1880. 

The Homestead Act

The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed any American over 21 to put in a claim for up to 160 free acres of surveyed federal land, provided the applicant never took up arms against the U.S. government. The purpose of the Act was to encourage settlement in the Western United States. By the end of the Civil War, at least 15,000 homestead claims had been applied for and established, with many more in the post-war years. Claimants were required to build a dwelling and cultivate the land with agriculture or animal herds. Even earlier, Congress passed a law in 1820 with provisions for the sale of public lands.

Jacob B. Grandstaff – One Of The Earliest Settlers To Farm Grapes

Jacob B. Grandstaff was one of the earliest settlers in the area to build a home, plant vegetable gardens, and apple orchards, and establish a vegetable stand. Located 12 miles west of Templeton and just seven miles from the Pacific Ocean, the area sits at a 1500 feet elevation and receives significantly more rainfall than other areas of San Luis Obispo County.

Jacob’s Homestead Certificate of Registration, 4792, was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on December 15, 1875. The document states that Jacob B. Grandstaff of San Luis Obispo County, California, has deposited in the General Land Office of the United States a Certificate of the Register of the Land Office at San Francisco, whereby it appears that full payment has been made by said Jacob B. Grandstaff according to the provisions of the Act of Congress of the 24th of April 1820, entitled “An Act making further provision for the sale of the Public Lands” for the Lot numbered three of Section thirty-two, the Lots numbered four and five and the NorthWest quarter of the North East quarter of Section thirty-one in the township twenty-seven south of Rounge eleven East-Mount Diablo Meridian in the District of Lands subject to sale at San Francisco containing one hundred and twelve acres and seventy-eight hundredth of an acre.

The property was located on the eastern slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains, covered in trees, rolling hills, and deep canyons. Travelers frequently used a trail nearby to move cargo from the Paso Robles and San Miguel areas down to the coastal trails and ports between Cayucos and Cambria.

The Ascension District

Jacob’s farm was located in the Ascension District, named and recognized as a county school district. Jacob Grandstaff was well-known for his produce and his Mission grapes. Jacob B. Grandstaff is historically important because he is the first person we can document to plant a vineyard with Mission grapevines in the Ascension District. There is no record that Jacob made wine to sell commercially. It was common practice for families to grow enough grapes to make their own supply of wine. Jacob did have a business; he grew fruit to sell to travelers passing by at his stand, according to correspondence from Sidney York, whose grandfather, Andrew York purchased the property from Jacob in 1882. Jacob sold apples and may have sold the grapes as fruit for others to buy and enjoy. Jacob was very active in the community, focusing on education. He served as the Superintendent of the Ascension School from 1879 to 1880 and as a Trustee in 1883.

Jacob B. Grandstaff Sells His Homestead To Andrew York In 1882

Jacob felt there were too many newcomers settling in the area, so he decided to move on, to farm in Texas. The area was renamed York Mountain in later years, after Jacob B. Grandstaff sold his property to a farmer named Andrew York in 1882. Although Jacob established this important landmark, Andrew York, grape grower and winemaker, planted vineyards with additional varietals and built a winery that produced wines for over 80 years. Three generations of the York Family operated the winery until 1970. Wilfrid York sold his winery to the famous enologist and winemaker Max Goldman

The name York Mountain celebrates three generations of the York family; the family-owned winery and vineyards was in business for 85 years. This is the longest run to date of any family-owned winery in San Luis Obispo County.


Jacob B. Grandstaff is an interesting example of the hardworking and ambitious people who settled in San Luis Obispo County in the late 1860s or early 1870s. We do not know where he came from or when he arrived in California. He looked for a place where he could be the first to develop and settle an area. When he discovered the Ascension area, it was covered with a dense forest of oak trees which he cleared to make room for the home he built and the orchards and vineyards he planted. He obviously had experience in farming but he also developed a prosperous business in Paso Robles as a Blacksmith.

His fruit stand became a destination for travelers; he gathered much gossip and information on imports and exports from his visitors. He lived on his homesteaded land for at least 12 years and was instrumental in establishing and funding the Ascension School. He served in local government focused on education. After accomplishing so much, he decided that too many people were coming to settle in San Luis Obispo County so he sold his land and farm to a local farmer and moved on to new territory in the State of Texas.


  • 1870s – Jacob B. Grandstaff applies to homestead land in the area now known as York Mountain. He clears the land, builds a home, and plants an apple orchard and Mission Grape Vineyard. He builds a fruit stand on the trail near his home and sells produce to local travelers.
  • 1870s – Jacob opened a blacksmith shop in Paso Robles, date unknown.
  • 1875 – Jacob B. Grandstaff received a Certificate granting him legal title to his property under the rules and regulations of the Homestead Act of 1862.
  • 1879 – He became the superintendent of the Ascension School.
  • 1881 – He serves as a trustee of the Ascension School.
  • 1882 – Andrew York purchases the land, home, orchard and vineyard from Jacob Grandstaff, who states that he is moving to Texas.


Archives – General Land Office of the United States
Census and Agricultural reports: 1870s and 1880s
Newspaper articles: Tribune
Paso Robles Historical Society
Correspondence with Wilfrid York