Early History of the Bennett Valley Ranch

The area was fIrst settled by the Miwok, Pomo and Wappo tribes, who named the stream that flows southeast from Bennett Mountain into Sonoma Valley "Yulupa" (which loosely translates into "sacred" or "magical"). Soon Spanish and Russian settlers began to move into the area. By the 1830's, General Vallejo's land grants prompted further Spanish settlement into the area and in 1849, a Missouri immigrant named James N. Bennett acquired properiy on the peak called "Yulupa." Bennett prospered in his new found home, even rising to the Position of assemblyman and introducing the bill that made Santa Rosa the county seat in 1854.

About the same time, an influx of settlers moved into the area, and Bennett VaIIey became a productive agricultural region.

Bennett Valley's fIrst winery was established by Isaac DeTurk. Isaac DeTurk, after learning viticulture from his German parents, moved to California at the invitation of his brother. Drawing from his father's struggles with European varietals back in Indiana, DeTurk established Belle Mount Vineyards in the winter of 1861-1862 at the base of Bennett Peak from land he had acqUired from James N. Bennett. At first he set out 20 acres of wine grapes and later increased the acreage to 50.

He planted Mission and Zinfandel vines in about equal quantity, which yielded 300 -350 tons of grapes per season. He built his fIrst winery/wine cellar at the site in 1867. (This would be the building presently in ruins at the base of Bennett Peak).

The venture was a pioneering viticulture effort for the area, but Belle Mount was soon producing wine. DeTurk helped hold the fledgling industry together after the depression of the early 1870's and poor prices for wine. By 1876, Sonoma County with fifty wineries was one of the chief wine producing counties in California. In 1882 with production of his Bennett Valley operations too small to meet demand, he buys 1,205 acres on Sonoma Highway near Kenwood. In 1885, DeTurk sells his Bennett Valley holdings (cellar & vineyards) to George and E.W. Davis.

Issac DeTurk's Santa Rosa winery was the largest of its time with a capacity of a million gallons by 1888. Issac DeTurk was a prominent vintner pioneer of the 1800's in Northern California, both grower and winemaker, a leader in the industry and serving on the State Viticultural Commission for the Sonoma District. DeTurk's modest beginnings in Bennett Valley became a wine empire.

ABOVE UPPER LEFT:  DeTurk's Santa Rosa Winery.
ABOVE LOWER LEFT:  The Barrell Room
ABOVE RIGHT:  DeTurk's Round Barn built for his thoroughbred race horses, located next to his Santa Rosa Winery. All these buildings are still in use today. The Round Barn was approved in 2009 to be a Community Center for Cultural Arts & Events.

BOTTOM:  Lithograph of Isaac DeTurk's land in Bennett Valley in Thompson's Atlas of 1877 with 50 +/- acres of vineyard marked in xxx's.

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This material is based upon information which we consider reliable, but it has been supplied by third parties.
We cannot represent that it is accurate or complete, and it should not be relied upon as such.
This offering is subject to errors, omissions, change of price, or withdrawal without notice.

Craig Sikes DRE #00470519

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