New grape varietals introduced to California
The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 brought over 300,000 people to search for riches in the mountains and towns. Horticulturalists in New England saw an opportunity to establish nurseries to provide trees and plants for the agricultural production of food to feed the newcomers. Scholars, botanists, vineyardists, writers, nurserymen, and merchants traveled to San Francisco to explore opportunities, climate, and soils in the Bay area. Bostonians James L. L. Warren and Frederick W. Macondray shaped the agricultural development and vinifera planted in California. Cincinnati and Los Angeles developed major wine industries during the 1840s. Zinfandel grapes became well known for their taste and quality, and the first hybrid grape was grown.


Nicholas Longworth of Cincinnati was an amateur horticulturist who spent years experimenting with over 150 European varieties before focusing on native grapes. By 1842 he has 13 vineyards in Cincinnati and produces his first Sparkling wine from the native Catawba grapes. Cincinnati, the Queen City of the West, becomes an important center of winemaking in the United States with 900 acres in production by 1850.


Botanist John Fisk Allen of Salem, Massachusetts crosses the Isabella, purchased from William Robert Prince, with vinifera Chasselas de Fountainblue. It is celebrated as one of the great feats in American Viticulture.

James L. L. Warren, owner of a commercial nursery in the Boston area, promotes “Zonfandel” in his 1844 nursery catalog stating that the flavor is superior and the variety superior.


The Mexicans are defeated; California conquered by American Forces.

William Boggs arrives in San Francisco, researches the Bay area and buys land in Sonoma. He will be known for his keen observations and writing about California viticulture.


Grape growing and wine production continue to thrive. Los Angeles becomes the major winemaking area in California.

John Fisk Allen describes grape varietals that he has had personal experience with and gives more lines to Zinfandel than any other variety. He states that the Zinfandel grape was first grown around Boston by Samuel Perkins, who obtained them from George Gibbs.


January 24, 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill.


After conferring with fellow members of the Boston Horticultural Society, James L. L. Warren travels to San Francisco to research the California climate and soils. He determines what plants and trees should be planted to feed a growing population and laments that the Mission grape, the only grape grown in California, does not produce a dry red wine.

Frederick W. Macondray was a Massachusetts sea captain and a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. He settled in San Francisco, California in 1849 and imported nursery stock from Boston. He established his trading company called Macondray and Company which in 2002 was still doing business out of the Macondray Building.