The History of California Wine



The golden state has a rich history, known for a myriad of different characteristics. From its abundance of diverse outdoor activities to the booming tech paradise in Silicon valley to the star studded landscape of Hollywood, California is about as diverse as it gets. But there is one aspect of California that truly shines, and that is regarding the state’s history with winemaking.


Winemaking in Napa Valley started at early part of the 1800’s, but vineyards themselves go back even further to the late 1700’s. Early vines were cultivated to create wine which was used predominantly for religious purposes. From sacramental purposes to the daily table needs of the missions within the area, wine was initially used for theological motives. Because the grapes came from Mexican missionaries the grapes came to be known as Mission grapes.


After discovering the fact that California cultivated an ideal climate for grapes it wasn’t long after that the commercial wine industry began to take root and spread. Around 1830, Frenchman Jean Louis Vignes opened California’s very first commercial winery. Shortly after Vignes, the winemaking business began to boom. Wineries began to spread like a vine, especially around the time when John Patchett began planting in Napa Valley. Due to its rich soil types, cooler climate, and easy access to the region, Napa/Sonoma became the catalyst for the now booming California wine industry.


Fast forward to last century. Whitehall Lane was founded in 1979, in Napa Valley, due to the same reasons everyone else was drawn to this beautiful region. But the soil our winery is built on goes back two centuries.  In the mid 1800’s, Napa Valley settlers were drawn to the deep, loamy soils and ideal climate, planting high quality grape vines at the Whitehall Lane Winery site. A barn constructed in the early 1900’s for equipment storage is still used today. In 1979, two brothers started the winery and directed their winemaking efforts successfully to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They named the winery after the road that runs along the south border of the property, Whitehall Lane.