From Raisins to Grapes

Gustavus French Merriam came to San Diego County from Kansas in 1874. He acquired a homestead of 160 acres in what is today San Marcos. He christened his property Twin Oaks Ranch after two joined oak trees on the grounds.

Merriam at first intended to specialize in raisins, a popular crop in the area at the time. But he had trouble drying the grapes successfully and switched to wine and brandy production. That worked out a bit better.

“G. F. Merriam shipped a carload of grape brandy from Twin Oaks to Los Angeles,” reported the Poway Progress newspaper of January 13, 1894.

Two months later the same paper reported: “G. F. Merriam of San Marcos has made over 60,000 gallons of wine this season, and is now making grape brandy by the carload.”

That’s railroad carloads, just to put it in historical perspective.

Here’s an undated portrait of G. F. Merriam, courtesy of the San Marcos Historical Society:


The Major, as he preferred to be called, would leave his mark on county history in many ways.  You can find out more about him in my book, Valleys of Dreams, on sale on this blogsite.

In the meantime, Happy May Day to All!

Sources for this post included the archives of the San Marcos Historical Society and the San Diego History Center, along with historic county newspapers.

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