Stockton’s Pioneer Winery: El Pinal Vineyard

Vintage Postcard of the El Pinal Winery (1858-1918)

After describing Stockton’s historic brewery in the last blog, it now only seems appropriate to mention our most famous winery.

El Pinal Winery was the first commercial winery in the region, established by George West in 1858. It was located on the east side of West Lane (named after George) near Alpine close to the Southern Pacific railroad tracks. Today, the vineyard is the site of the El Pinal Industrial Park.

George West was from Massachusetts and came to California in 1849, as so many others did, to discover gold. As the rush faded, his vision of wealth turned toward the rich soil and the growing of grapes. George was not only a pioneer in viticulture but also became one of the most successful and famous wine growers in California during that time.

In the first decade, the grapes were mostly used for table wines but over time, the winery went on to produce more vintage products, including a port that won special premium at the California State Fair in 1867. In 1902, the company incorporated as George West & Son, Frank A. West.  Prohibition forced the closure of the El Pinal Winery in 1918.

Today, there is no evidence of Stockton’s most famous winery and its legendary wine grower, besides the naming of the park and the street.

Source:  George West, Pioneer Wine Grower in San Joaquin County (San Joaquin Historical Society and Museum) by Gerry Howen.

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