Born in France, Jean-Louis Vignes (1780-1862) is an almost forgotten, important wine pioneer of the United States, He is considered the first commercial winemaker California, In 1827 he emigrated from his homeland to the Sandwich Island, which was named by James Cook. His wife (who never followed him) and his five children (three of whom also immigrated much later) remained in Cadillac. There he dealt with viticulture, the cultivation of sugar cane from which he rum burned, as well as cattle and turkey breeding. In the wake of a ban on alcohol and the destruction of the sugar cane fields by the Protestant missionaries there, he immigrated to California in the Mexican era at the time. Vignes bought 104 hectares of land on the banks of the Los Angeles River and started vinification at his winery named "El Aliso".
In the beginning, he produced wine exclusively from the historical variety introduced by the Franciscans ( Listán Prieto ), which produced large quantities of grapes or wine, but insufficient quality. That is why Vignes started importing European varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, The vines were wrapped in damp moss and potato slices so that the vines survived the long journey by ship without damage. From 1840 he sold his wines all over California. As of 1850, he had 40,000 vines in the inventory and produced around 150,000 bottles of wine. Samples were sent to 10th US President John Tyler (1790-1862) and to France. From 1851, Vignes was also involved in the cultivation of oranges, apricots, apples, figs and walnuts. In 1855, he sold his business to his nephews for $ 40,000. Now he was socially active by co-financing a hospital and helping establish the first public school in California. Vignes and Aliso Street in Los Angeles today commemorate his significant accomplishments in California viticulture.