The Board of the DANA Adobe and Cultural Center announced their collaboration with the Wine History Project to plant a Mission Grape Heritage Vineyard on the grounds of the Adobe. The mission of the DANA Adobe is to engage visitors with the stories of California’s Rancho Era History, connecting them with the peoples, the land and its resources to foster environmental stewardship and cultural understanding.

Selecting the Site

On September 7, Lexi Carreno, DANA Adobe Director, invited Libbie Agran of the Wine History Project to meet with Rudy Stowell (Retiring President), Jim Corridan (New President), and Board Members Len Hoskins, Bob Weiger and Tara Machin to walk the property and select a site for the Mission Grape Heritage Vineyard. The vineyard will be planted with 12 vines propagated by the Wonderful Nursery in the winter of 2022. A committee of vineyardists including Jim Efird, Don Campbell, Randy Heizen and Rod Gross has been formed to study the methods and layout of vineyards planted in the first Mission Vineyards around 1800 in San Luis Obispo County.


Rancho Landgrants San Luis Obispo map by Aimee Avant

History of the Rancho Period and the Dana Adobe

California was a dependency of Spain until 1822. When Mexico defeated Spain, the missions were secularized and land was redistributed under Mexican rule. The Rancho Era began with land grants, Rancho Nipomo was spread over the vast majority of land between what is now known as Arroyo Grande and the Santa Maria River. The Mexican government awarded Sea Captain and merchant William G. Dana land in 1837 which included present-day Nipomo and the Los Berros. Shortly thereafter, plans to build the two-story adobe for his family were drawn and construction began. This adobe is the only building of the Rancho Era in San Luis Obispo County. It has been restored and contains furnishings of the era which you can tour.

Hospitality was an important aspect of the Rancho; visitors were welcomed and provided with food, lodging and fresh horses. Trials led from rancho to rancho and to the town of San Luis Obispo where Captain Dana purchased a hotel.

Food was grown in the gardens and the fields. Agriculture provided the economic base with large herds of cattle providing hides and tallow for trade. Goods were bartered. The Rancho Era is remembered for the beautiful horses raised and for leather crafts such as bridle and saddle making. The rodeos celebrated the skills of the horsemen and were enjoyed by all. Music and dancing were favorite pastimes. This cultural heritage continues to this day.

Winemaking in the Rancho Era

There is little written about winemaking during the Rancho era. The preferred alcoholic drink was aguardiente, a native brandy, according to historian Myron Angel in his History of San Luis Obispo County, California published in 1883. Wine historian Charles Sullivan confirms that Aguardiente was known as fiery water during the Mission and Rancho periods. It was a distilled liquor made from Mission grapes and continued to be popular during the Gold Rush after California became a state. The Wine History Project is working with the California archives at California missions to learn more about viticulture in the Rancho Era.

The DANA Adobe and Wine History Project plan to educate visitors about the viticulture and winemaking practices with mission grapevines during the Rancho Era starting with the vineyard design and planting early in 2022.

Please visit the website to learn more about touring the DANA Adobe, the hiking trails, multiple gardens of native plants, and the Cultural Center at:

The DANA Adobe is a California Historical Landmark #1033 and is listed in the National Register #71000189. Find out historical information at the following link: