HISTORY OF ELLISTON VINEYARDS
What does the California Gold Rush have to do with Elliston Vineyards, located in the tiny California hamlet of Sunol.
A nineteen-year-old “49’er,” Henry Hiram Ellis, sailed around Cape Horn from Maine but soon gave up the gold fields to pursue a lucrative vocation: shipping provisions by barge up the Sacramento River and by mule team to the gold mines. He had sufficient success to allow him to invest in an oceangoing ship to Hawaii and Mexico to obtain fresh provisions. Later, with help from a friend named Miller founded “Miller and Ellis Grain” on Market street in San Francisco.
In the 1870’s Ellis took up residency on Lombard Street and became the City’s Chief of Police. Later on he became U.S Consul to the Turks Island in the East Indies.
In 1885 Ellis, contemplating retirement, bought a lovely oak-studded property in the agricultural district of Sunol, just five miles east of the San Francisco Bay and its cooling breezes at the base of the 900′ Pleasanton Ridge. Here, between 1885 and 1890, he built Elliston, a stately 17-room, three-story, neo-Romanesque mansion featuring graceful stone arches and 32-inch-thick walls of blue sandstone quarried in nearby Niles Canyon. Celebrities of the day visited Elliston, including Prince Kuhio and Princess Elizabeth of Hawaii during their round the world tour to visit Queen Victoria in 1898.
In 1890, Ellis planted three acres of vineyard on his Estate, and it is known that wine was produced here. This acreage was included when the Sunol Viticulture District was named in the 1898 report to the State Board of Viticulture to consist of 14 vineyards totaling 148.5 acres and total cooperage of 25,000 gallons.
After changing owners throughout the years, the Elliston Estate was finally purchased by Ramon and Amy Awtrey in 1969. Professors and antique collectors, they carefully restored Elliston with period pieces, and refurbished the mansion to it’s original glory.
In 1977, Sunol’s grape growing tradition was revived by the planting of 55 acres of premium grape varietal’s on San Francisco Water Company land. In 1984, the Awtrey’s obtained rights to the Sunol Valley Vineyards, and also replanted the Elliston vineyards at the estate with three acres of Chardonnay. The original carriage house was converted into the winery.
The Awtrey’s lived in the Elliston Mansion, and in 1982, they began hosting special events and weddings at Elliston.
In 1991, Elliston purchased a twenty-three acre winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains complete with a state-of-the-art 4,000 square foot building equipped to handle 20,000 cases.
Today Elliston Vineyards is a thriving winery and event space. The Awtrey’s daughter Donna now runs the business with the help of her sons, Mark and David.
Let Elliston Vineyards create a
magical & memorable day for you
- A full-service event planner to assist with all your needs and day-of coordination
- Staff including banquet servers, bartenders, kitchen staff, and parking attendants
- One hour rehearsal
- A list of preferred vendors to assist you in the planning process
- Chair upgrades, colored linens, draping, lighting and additional rentals available through Elliston
- Morning and evening wedding times available
- Use of elegant, historic rooms in the mansion to prepare before ceremony
- Elliston provides ceremony chairs, white linens, banquet reception chairs, china, glassware and silverware
- Superb in-house catering with custom menu options
- An assortment of beverage packages including wine, beer, and champagne
Elliston Vineyards provides the perfect setting for
large parties, intimate gatherings or a corporate event.
Larger events take place in our Terrace Room and adjoining gazebo. The natural hillside setting and relaxing waterfall provide a beautiful ambiance and surrounding for your special event.
Smaller events take place in our gardens or in our historic mansion.