In 1856, Gen Naglee commenced to beautify his stately grounds, situated on the south side of Santa Clara street; and bounded on the east by Coyote creek, on the south by William street, on the wet by Eleventh street, and containing one hundred and forty acres. The orchard and vineyard were set out n 1858, but the greater part of the labor and improvements have been bestowed upon the grounds since the General returned from the war. The premises are tastefully divided into fields, parks and beds, where vegetation is seen springing forth in every form.
A pleasant drive winds for a mile and half through a vineyard of an infinite variety of grapes gracefully-hanging trees. Here and there sparkling fountains feed this little vegetable world, and give it life and continued freshness. The capacity for irrigation is large. There are seven artesian wells, which can discharge one hundred thousand gallons each daily. Their full volume is not permitted to run unless so much be needed. One of these wells feeds an artificial pond, and waters all the vegetables. It furnishes, probably, two hundred an fifty gallons per day.
The exquisite flower-beds are adorned with a myriad of blossoms of every light and shade; and you almost fancy that at twilight hour the goddesses come stealing in, to deck themselves for the festal eve. Here is the palm, the fig, the olive, the almond; the magnolia, in all its splendor; the heliotrope, fuschia, geranium. oleander, jessamine, clematis, ivy, and the century plant. Here, too, flourish the palm from Panama; the origanum fro Patagonia; the cedar from the Himalaya mountains and from Lebanon; charming varieties of cypress from Japan and China, and many from the Pacific coast. Here grows, too, in all its grandeur, the beautiful eucalyptus; and here the arching willows shade the sparkling fountains. Here fair lady may gaze with delight st the beautiful Japanese arbors and hedges entwined with the fragrant honeysuckle , the jessamine, the clematis, and ivy. Mexico , too has furnished her pepper trees, with their graceful narrow-leaved boughs, to aid in the adornment of these lovely grounds.
I observed an eucalyptus, planted in 1865, which measures fifteen inches in diameter. It is a wonderful growth, and shows how ell this climate is adapted to its culture. Seventeen varieties of the acacia, and fifteen of the eucalyptus grace this forest, besides many varieties of the pine, the cypress, the arbor-vitae, the juniper, the palm, and the fir; also, the yew, the laurel, the native nutmeg, the bay, the madrona, the mancenito, the tamarack, the Washingtonia, and the New Zealand flax, have their share in the forming this arborical host. Nor has the Monterey cypress, so grand in form, been left out of the ranks. A magnolia, planted in 1866, is now fifteen feet high, and has been blooming all summer. A weeping-willow, planted in 1858, now measures twenty-nine inches in diameter. A century plant, or agave, planted in 1865, is now five feet high and seven in diameter. The avenue, one thousand feet long, planted two and a half years ago, is on an average thirty feet high, and the trees six or eight inches in diameter. An eucalyptus, planted in 1865, is now fifteen inches in diameter. The rapidity of the growth of these trees is truly wonderful.
The deciduous trees, which are so very highly appreciated in the Eastern States, are continually falling by the ax of the horticulturist, to make room for rare varieties of evergreens. This lordly estate is dotted here and there with artistic works of statuary; standing, seemingly to guard the enchanting scene from the touch of the spoiler.
How lovely it is to leave the city’s hum, to wander in these green fields, amid the groves and pastures, near the hour of eventide; see playful build their miniature gardens, hear the merry birds warbling farewell to parting day. As one views all this, when the setting sun gilds the western sky with rose and purple tins, and floods all nature with soft and mellow light, it seems the work of enchantment.
The premises so far described are dedicated to the pleasures of man- not profit; and yet they are a wealth to him, in cultivating the finer feelings of his nature in increasing his love for the beautiful works of our Creator, and making him what that Creator intended, a refined, intelligent man, about the sordid mind which seeks for naught but filthy lucre.
The pecuniary profits of this estate will be derived from the culture of the grape, and manufacture of wines and brandies. Among the one hundred and fifty varieties of grapes here are the Peneau, the Riesling, , from which Johannis wine is made, and La Folle Blanche, the only grape from which cognac brandy is produced; all which have been cultivated with great success, and manufacture of wines and brandies therefrom has equally successful. The development of the extraordinary flavor and the delicacy of the wines and brandies, produced here, is truly wonderful.
The wine-house, with a capacity of one hundred thousand gallons, for completeness and condensation, with all the improvements of the present times, is unsurpassed in this or any other country.
The first-class brandies manufactured by Gen. Naglee are scarcely equaled, certainly not surpassed, by any other in the world. The reason is apparent. The quality of the grape produced here is equal to any on the globe Those grapes are not pressed, so that the wine made therefrom contains none of the juice of the skins and seeds, nor of the stems, (those portions which produce fusel oil and tannin,) hence the freedom of the wine from these deleterious substances. In Europe, this mode is not adopted, from the fact that wine and brandy manufacturers cannot afford it. They press the grape on the score of economy, that none of the juice may be wasted. The brandies and wines, therefore, cannot be free from the impurities already mentioned. The brandies of Gen. Naglee only lack age. The oldest which he now possesses is nearly of the age of two years. All of his older wines and brandies were destroyed, together with the distillery, by fire, on the twenty-fourth of February, 1869. It was the work on an incendiary. His loss thereby was not les than sixty thousand dollars, having no insurance. Not-withstanding his loss, he has rebuilt the premises, making them fireproof and superior to the former ones. He has one wine tank of the capacity of sixteen thousand gallons.
A second-class brandy is made from wines produced from the pressed grapes. The principal part of the wines produced here are manufactured into brandies.
This county, and the country generally, is much indebted to Gen. Naglee for his experiments here made. He has sown to the world the value of this soil and climate to be infinitely beyond expectation for the successful production of first-class wines and brandies. It was no inviting task to risk so much in a pecuniary way to attest a doubtful, and somewhat hazardous, experiment.
Gen. Naglee is a man of great wealth, much of which sprang rom his own resolute exertions in this country, and part of which came by inheritance from the rich estate of his father. It has been fortunate for the welfare and progress of this valley that he has thus been favored pecuniarily.
I have mentioned the premises of Mrs. Hensley and Gen. Naglee, for the reason that they are the most extensive ones in this vicinity, and among the finest private grounds in the State. And I have specially observed the plants and growth thereof in the estate of Gen Naglee, to illustrate the adaptation of this soil an climate to the growth of a wonderful variety of the vegetable kingdom, which are indigenous to every clime, from the equator to the poles.
Making general statements as to the productions of this climate might appear to strangers like random declaration. I have, therefore, referred to the premises which contain them, that persons unfamiliar with this climate may know where to turn for personal observations.
The History of San Jose and Surroundings with Biographival Sketches of Early Settlers by Frederic Hall, pulished by A L Bancroft, published 1871
transcribed by c feroben- March 2016