Griffin's Lair

lakeville's viticultural history

The Lakeville area, bordered by San Pablo Bay (the northern half of San Francisco Bay) and the estuary known as the Petaluma River, was a lively spot for commerce during Spanish colonial times and after. Early travelers came up the river by boat to the Lakeville wharfs (General Vallejo owned large ranchos in the Petaluma area), then boarded stagecoaches which took them through the hills to the mission town of Sonoma. The early Spanish missionaries planted grapes and made wine, but it wasn't until the mid 1800s that Lakeville's viticultural history really began. Vines (mostly Italian varietals) were planted on over 1,000 acres (twice today's acreage!) and two wineries were established, one right on the banks of the Petaluma River. Boats returned to the burgeoning city of San Francisco with supplies of wine and produce from local ranches.

Prohibition took effect in 1920 (this inexplicable chapter in our country's history lasted until Repeal in 1933). Prohibition, plus the ravages of the louse phylloxera, ended the wine industry in Lakeville. The vineyards were converted into grazing land for cattle and sheep. Boats from San Francisco still came to Lakeville, but now many of them came up the river at night with lights doused--during Prohibition the riverside winery became a "speakeasy"!

Interest in grapes revived around 1990, as winemakers sought out sites for cool-weather varietals (pinot noir and chardonnay). Lakeville, and the Petaluma Gap, were rediscovered.