This article represents a first step in the process of restoring the legacy of pioneer California winemaker Jean-Louis Vignes (1780–1862). Vignes was a native of France who established and operated a commercial winery (El Aliso) in Los Angeles for 22 years (1833–1855). The article includes the first known photograph of Vignes discovered by the author. While prominent twentieth-century American wine historians have acknowledged Vignes, the author emphasizes a key distinction made by French historian Leonce Jore. Vignes left France to go to the Sandwich Islands as part of a commercial enterprise that traveled with Catholic missionaries (Picpus Fathers). Only after five years of frustration did Vignes move to Los Angeles and establish a winery. The author uses the remembrances of well-known nineteenth-century commentator William Heath Davis [Seventy-Five Years in California (San Francisco, 1929)] to give some personal insights into Vignes as a winemaker. Davis visited him at El Aliso three times as a young man and lived long enough (1909) to validate Vignes’s vision for the potential of winemaking in California. The article also includes the first known full citation for Vignes’s gravesite at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles.
- Jean-Louis Vignes
- El Aliso winery
- William Heath Davis
- California wine history
- Picpus Fathers
- Nineteenth-century Los Angeles
- Vignes Street
- importing Vitis Vinifera from Bordeaux
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