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The History of Pacheco Pass Wine Country

The Spanish also traveled over Pacheco Pass as they were setting up the Mission system. In the early 19th century, Father Felipe Arroyo started the nearby San Juan Bautista and was known for his harsh treatment of the Native Americans. In 1833, a deadly disease spread through the local population and killed many of the Native Americans. It is speculated that this was an outbreak of malaria.

Many fled the Mission over Pacheco Pass. They would stop at an artesian well called Casa de Fruta before traveling over the pass. Casa de Fruta is now a fruit stand owned by the Zanger Family.

The region is named after Don Francisco Perez Pacheco. In 1843, he was granted 150,000 acres of land from the Mexican Government that included the local area. During the mid 19th century, agriculture was developed along Pacheco Pass. Other settlers began to raise livestock, especially cattle.

But the region remained unsafe for pioneers for quite some time. The Native Americans, with the bitter memories of Father Felipe Arroyo still in their minds, often raided these new settlements. Additionally, the bandits Tiburcio Vasquez and Joaquin Murieta menaced the area, and the region became known as “robber’s pass.”

Before the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, Pacheco Pass was part of the Butterfield Stagecoach trail. This was a very important migration route from the east. In 1856, Andrew Firebaugh greatly improved the road and began charging a toll to pass through the region.

In 1908, the Zanger Family began planting their orchards and vineyards in Pacheco Pass. Zanger Vineyards is currently the only winery in the region. AVA status was granted in 1984.

> Pacheco Pass and other Bay Area Wineries

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