Rancho La Viña Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills


Rancho La Viña is a family owned and operated ranch located on Santa Rosa Road in the Southwest Sta. Rita Hills and is home to vineyards, vegetable farming, and orchards.

New Vine Growth at Rancho La Viña Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

New Vine Growth at Rancho La Viña Vineyard – Courtesy of Dorene Miller

SAMsARA sources Pinot Noir grapes from 7 rows of Clone 114 for use in our Rancho La Viña vineyard designate wines. The 2,800 acre Rancho La Viña is the largest remnant of the original 15,526 acre Rancho Santa Rosa Land Grant.

The Land Grant in 1872

During the Spanish and Mexican era in California, those governments gave land to reward individuals — sometimes for service in the military and sometimes as inducements to settle in what was considered a remote, undesirable outpost.

SB County Land Grants Map

SB County Land Grants Map

However, certain tellings of the story of Rancho Santa Rosa have a bit of a twist. Pablo Antonio Cota was an officer in the Spanish Army at the Santa Barbara Presidio, serving as agent of King Carlos III of Spain. Part of Pablo’s duties included giving land grants on behalf of the Spanish king. While some versions say King Carlos III granted Rancho Gaviota, Rancho De La Vega, and Rancho Santa Rosa to Cota as thanks for his service, others say Pablo unilaterally “took” these ranches for himself . . .

Regardless of how the vast land holdings were acquired, Rancho Santa Rosa was passed to Cota’s 13 year old son Francisco Atanasio Cota when both Pablo and his wife died within two years of each other in 1799-1800. Like his father, Francisco was a military man, working in varying capacities at Spanish missions throughout his life.

Following the Mexican-American War, California was ceded to the United States and the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the  Spanish and Mexican land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Santa Rosa was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852, and the grant was verified and “patented” to Francisco’s wife in 1872, María Jesús Olivera de Cota, as Francisco had died in 1851.

Leasehold Interest Makes Way for “New” Ownership

Joseph W. Cooper rented Rancho Santa Rosa from Mrs. Cota for 3 years before offering to purchase it for $25,000 in 1872. Cooper didn’t have the money himself, so he borrowed it from his friend Joseph Hubbard Hollister, brother of neighboring landholder William Welles Hollister. Cooper and Hollister were apparently called “blockheads” by a San Francisco newspaper for “over-paying” for Rancho Santa Rosa.

Rancho Santa Rosa Land Grant Page

Rancho Santa Rosa Land Grant Page

In 1911, most offspring of J.W. Cooper wanted to sell Rancho Santa Rosa and move on to other opportunities. One lone holdout, William Hubbard Cooper, affectionately called “Dubby”, wanted to retain the land. Fortunately, the parties were able to come to an agreement and while the ranch was subdivided and 12,726 acres sold, Rancho La Viña was formed. Dubby is credited for modernizing agricultural of the property and lived most of his life on the property.

Descendants of J.W. Cooper family still own Rancho La Viña and just celebrated their 150th anniversary as its custodians.

On a wild, western stretch of Santa Rosa Road, deep in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, on any given day you can still feel J.W. Cooper’s original attraction to this land and it is not hard to understand why the fruit grown here is so special. Dense morning fog gives way to sunny afternoons and loamy soils make Rancho La Viña an incredible cool climate growing site.

Today, in addition to growing top quality Pinot Noir wine grapes on 34.5 acres, a variety of other crops are also grown on the ranch, which include organic heirloom tomatoes, squash, green beans among other organic vegetables. The ranch is also well known for 126 acres of Certified Organic Walnut trees that yield some of the sweetest, best tasting walnuts grown in California.