Jacob Beringer left his home in Mainz, Germany, in 1868 to start a new life in the United States. His brother, Frederick, had preceded him by five years and wrote home constantly of the grand opportunities to be found in the vast new world. Frederick had settled in New York, but that life did not appeal to Jacob. Unlike his brother, Jacob Beringer enjoyed toiling in the cellars in his youth in Germany. He had heard that the warm, sunny climate of California was ideal for growing wine grapes, so in 1870 he traveled by train, first to San Francisco and then on to Napa Valley. To his delight, he discovered rocky, well-drained soils similar to those in his native Rhine Valley.
The volcanic soil was ideal for growing the varietal grapes of Europe's winemaking regions, and, best of all, the hills could be dug out to provide storage and aging tunnels that would maintain the constant temperature needed to produce fine wines. Jacob bought land with Frederick in 1875 and settled into producing wines comparable to the premium wines he had developed in Europe. In 1876, they founded Beringer Winery.
The tedious task of hand-chiseling the rock tunnels was completed by Chinese workers returning to the San Francisco area following completion of the Trans-Continental Railroad. The tunnels took several years to complete but rewarded the brothers with an extremely effective storing and aging facility that maintains a mean temperature of 58°F. Today, Beringer Vineyards continues to age fine wines, including its Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, in the tunnels they built.
While the winery was being built, Jacob took up residence in a farmhouse on the property built in 1848, now referred to as the "Hudson House." Meticulously restored and expanded, the Hudson House serves today as Beringer Vineyards' Culinary Arts Center.
In 1883, Frederick began construction of the 17-room mansion which was to be his home-a re-creation of the family home located on the Rhine River in Germany. Frederick's "Rhine House," now on the National Register of Historic Places, serves as Beringer's hospitality center.
Beringer Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley, celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2001. Jacob Beringer's foresight in recognizing the quality and potential of grape growing in the Napa Valley is part of the living heritage of Beringer Vineyards. With the present use of state-of-the-art technology applied to age-old traditions, Beringer Vineyards' wines continue to reflect a single-minded dedication to the making of memorable wines from great Napa Valley vineyards.