Timeline

Date: 
1843
Body: 
General Mariano Vallejo, Director of Howell Mountain, Director of Colonization for the Northern frontier, authorizes a land grant of over 4,000 acres on the heavily forested Howell Mountain to George C. Yount, which he names Rancho La Jota. La Jota means “the letter J” in Spanish, and in the 1800s it was also the name of a popular Spanish dance.
Date: 
1870
Body: 
Englishman Edwin Angwin purchases land on Howell Mountain, and establishes a health resort, which flourishes for 30 years and brings an influx of people to the mountain. The town on Howell Mountain’s plateau bears his name.
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Date: 
1879
Body: 
William S. Keyes marries Flora Hastings, daughter of Judge S.C. Hastings, the first Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. Hastings gives a portion of his land holdings to the newlyweds for a new winery venture, Liparita-La Jota. Soon after, Keyes builds the stone winery, which still stands today, just a few miles from La Jota.
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Date: 
1880
Body: 
Eugene Hilgard, a professor of agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley, pronounces Howell Mountain highly suitable for the production of wine grapes. He encouraged German winemaker Charles Krug to begin planting vines, and enthusiasm for Howell Mountain vineyards quickly caught on.
Date: 
1881
Body: 
A “land rush” occurs — by 1884 there are at least 30 growers with over 500 acres planted on Howell Mountain.
Date: 
1898
Body: 
Swiss newspaperman Frederick Hess establishes the La Jota Vineyard Co. and builds the historic stone winery structure from volcanic ash rock quarried on the property. The stone winery still houses the winemaking operations today.
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Date: 
1900
Body: 
Howell Mountain reaches the international stage at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Hess is awarded a bronze medal for his La Jota Vineyard Co. “Bianco,” and William S. Keyes receives a gold for his Liparita Howell Mountain Claret.
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Date: 
1920-1933
Body: 
Prohibition ends wine production in the United States. The market for Howell Mountain’s superior grapes collapses and the region becomes home to numerous “ghost” wineries.
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Date: 
1974
Body: 
Former oilman Bill Smith and his wife Joan acquire the “ghost” La Jota winery and 40 acres of surrounding land.
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Date: 
1982
Body: 
The La Jota Vineyard Co. is officially bonded. Smith produces his first vintage, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
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Date: 
1983
Body: 
By virtue of distinct geology, climate, and elevation, Howell Mountain becomes one of Napa Valley’s first sub-appellations. The promise first seen by Frederick Hess and the early pioneers is validated.
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Date: 
1996
Body: 
California wine pioneers Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke purchase the W.S. Keyes Vineyard on Howell Mountain.
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Date: 
2001-2003
Body: 
Bill Smith sells the La Jota winery to Markham Vineyards. By 2003, Markham completes renovations of the original stone winery and new wine caves.
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Date: 
2005
Body: 
Jackson Family Wines purchases the La Jota Vineyard Co. and surrounding acreage, and names Chris Carpenter Winemaker. This same year marks the release of the first La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot.
Date: 
2007
Body: 
Estate vineyard replanting projects are initiated throughout the property.
Date: 
2008
Body: 
The first vintage of La Jota W.S. Keyes Merlot is produced.
Date: 
Today
Body: 
The winery proudly carries on the century-old La Jota Vineyard Co. winemaking tradition, producing small lots of mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc from the winery’s estate vineyard and the nearby W. S. Keyes Estate Vineyard.
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