The Legacy of Glen Oaks Ranch
The earliest record of Glen Oaks ownership is linked to Lazara Pia, an artillery officer who was killed in the Mexican War. Following the officer’s death in 1939, General Marianno Vallejo claimed the property. In 1846, the general and his wife Benicia Carrillo traded theproperty to Andreas Hoeppner in exchange for piano lessons for their 16 children. During the turbulent times prior to California’s admittance to statehood, the succession of land ownership is unclear. Colonel Joe Hooker, the famous Civil War general, and Thaddeus Leavenworth, who came to the valley after being forced to resign in disgrace from his role as “alcalade” of San Francisco, purchased the southern parts of the original Agua Caliente Spanish Land Grant in the late 1840s. The purchase included what is now known as Glen Oaks Ranch.
The Stuart Legacy
Charles Stuart arrived close behind Hooker and Leavenworth. A Pennsylvanian, Stuart came to California leading a pack train in 1849. In 1859, he bought 1,000 acres of the Agua Caliente Land Grant stretching 2,000 feet long and one mile deep, and running parallel to the old Sonoma road, now Highway 12. Stuart is credited with planting the first vineyard on the property, which he named Glen Ellen in honor of his Scottish bride, Ellen. In 1862, Stuart sold 130 acres to Dr. J.B. Warfield, which became a whistle stop on the California Pacific Railroad. The settlement that sprang up around the train depot at Warfield Station came to be called Glen Ellen by the natives, so Stuart changed the name of the estate to Glen Oaks.
In 1869, Stuart built the stone house that is now the centerpiece of the remaining Glen Oaks estate. In addition to beautiful gardens, Stuart worked with native stone mined from the nearby hills to construct garden arches, a bridge over Stuart Creek, a smoke house and a barn. Stuart served as one of the four delegates from Sonoma County to California’s constitutional convention in 1878. He was the soul opponent to citizens.
In 1880, following Charles’s death, Ellen Stuart took over management of the estate, becoming one of the first women wine makers in California. Within a month of her husband’s death, she supervised the harvest and crush, and produced 32,000 gallons of wine including the following varieties: Gutudel, Riesling, Burger and Zinfandel. She continued to make and market wine for 10 years until a turn of the century phylloxera infestation wiped out all but the largest corporate producers in the region.
As a businesswoman, Stuart banded with two other women in the area whose husbands were either dead or too ill to work: the adjacent landowner Kate Warfield of Ten Oaks Winery and Eliza Hood of Los Guilucos Ranch. Together, these three women petitioned the Sonoma County Superior Court in the later half of the 19th century for the right to operate their businesses as “sole traders,” the designation needed to legally conduct business in the state. Such rights were not always granted to women. Stuart, Warfield and Hood continue to be honored today as pioneer women winemakers of Sonoma County.
The Cochran Legacy
In 1952, Roswell and Camille Cochran, descendents of Manuel Boronda, a member of the Anza Expedition to California, purchased what remained of the 230-acre Glen Oaks estate. Upon their death in 1988, the property went to their daughter Joan. Joan’s legacy was to restore and protect the valued estate, placing it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. She sold an easement to the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District with provisions for a public trail into the hills before her death in 2002. She left the bulk of the estate to the Sonoma Land Trust with provisions that a 46-acre agricultural area be used for grape production, designation of a 163-acre “forever wild” area, and a 25-acre historic area to preserve the historic contribution of the property to Sonoma County’s development.
The CLARBEC Contribution Begins
Joan also made provisions to plant some of the vineyard-designated acres. She gave her friends and companions Becky and Clarence Jenkins of Madrone Vineyard Management (MVM) the rights to plant and farm those vineyards for 25 years with the right to renew the agreement in perpetuity. The first vineyard, running up the hill to the south of the historic stone home, contains deep, alluvial soils that drain well and are capable of producing remarkable Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Improvements to the vineyard, including a new insectary are under the management of Linda Hale with MVM.