Our viticulture and wine history in San Luis Obispo County originated with the Spanish Crown seeking new lands to conquer and sending explorers to the Pacific Coast. The grapevines, Vitis vinifera, were brought by ship from Spain to Mexico and became known in the New World as Mission Grapes. The grape variety was identified as Listán Prieto in the 21st Century. The first chapter of California wine history is defined by twenty-one missions with chapels, agricultural crops and vineyards managed by the Spanish Franciscan padres who made a dull unstable red wine and an exciting distilled brandy to fortify their wine.
2022 is the 250th Anniversary of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County decided to research the remains of the Mission grapevines and plant a Heritage Mission Vineyard to commemorate this history. We partnered with the staff and volunteers of the Dana Adobe (built in 1840) in Nipomo to plant twenty Mission grapevines on this historic property.
As of January 31st we have accomplished these goals with the generous time and wisdom of the following volunteers and supporters:
- Propagated 20 Mission Grape Vines from cuttings sourced from Mission San Gabriel with the help of archaeologist Michael Imwalle and Dana Adobe volunteer Len Hoskins. Grafted the Mission vines to rootstock ready to plant in nine weeks with the help of the Plant Foundation at University of California at Davis, Dr. Jean Dodson Peterson in the Wine and Viticulture Department of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and the Wonderful Nursery in Wasco.The Viticulture Committee chaired by Jim Efird includes viticulturists Randy Heinzen, Don Campbell and Rod Gross who have designed the vineyard layout. They will be planting in the spring. The vineyard will be planted and maintained in the tradition of the padres. Watch for the celebration date on our website under Events.
- The stone to build a wall around the vineyard approximately five feet in height, as the padres would have done to protect the vine, has been donated to the Dana Adobe thanks to the work of Garett Dana, a descendant of Captain Dana who obtained the grant to the property during the Rancho Era (1822 to 1846). We are interviewing stone masons this month.
- The design of a beautiful garden of native plants, caucus and succulents by volunteer Nick Wilkinson, owner of Grow Nursery, is in the works. The Central Coast Cactus and Succulent Society have members volunteering to help propagate the plants. This garden will protect the vineyard from deer and coyotes who like to nibble on grapes and their budding leaves. But more importantly, it will become a beautiful addition to the landscape between the vineyards and the two-story Dana Adobe.
- The Director of the Dana Adobe, Lexi Carreño with her Board kicked off the fundraising efforts for the wall at their annual Gala Event in December 2021. They raised $10,500. The fundraising efforts continue. We look forward to sharing the famous Angelica Wines made from Mission grapes at future events and tastings.
The Wine History Project will document the progress of the first Heritage Mission Vineyard to be planted in our county in 200 years and will provide educational panels and programs. The vineyard and gardens will be an educational and historical resource as well as a place for events, birds and butterflies, enjoyment and relaxation.