G. M. Jarvis Wine and Brandy Company

 Bio-Pen Pictures

            George M. Jarvis, the President and founder of the G. M. Jarvis Wine and Brandy Company, planted his first vineyard on the foot-hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking the Santa Clara Valley, in 1860; and it subsequently became one of the finest vineyards in California.  From that time to the present Mr. Jarvis has been interested in grape-culture and wine-making, and is now at the head of one of the largest grape-growing and wine-manufacturing firms in the United States.  When he arrived on this coast in the year above named, grape-growing in California was in its infancy.  A few kinds had been brought here and planted by the Mission Fathers.  But enough had been done to demonstrate that this State is the home of the grape, and to discover that any of the fine semi-tropical grapes of Southern Europe could be grown here.  A commission had been appointed by the State Legislature to go to Europe, and study grape-culture there, to ascertain the best varieties, gather information of the methods of making wines and brandy, and bring back with them cuttings of the choicest kinds for propagation.  From these Mr. Jarvis and other pioneers in viticulture secured their first vines.  Since that time the vineyards have steadily extended until the vines now growing in California when all in bearing will produce fully 60,000,000 gallons of wine annually.

            Mr. Jarvis zealously applied himself to the study of wine-grape growing, and the converting of the juice into the highest grades of wine and brandies.  Soon the superiority of his goods began to be recognized.  Besides taking first prizes at the local and State fairs on this coast, he was awarded the first premium for the best and purest brandy over all competitors at the New Orleans World’s Exposition in 1885-86.  His brandy was analyzed by the faculty of the Chicago Medical College before the medical class, and was pronounced by that learned body the purest and best brandy ever manufactured in the United States.  The business grew to such proportions that Mr. Jarvis decided to merge it into a corporation, and the G. M. Jarvis Co. was organized in 1885, under the State laws of Illinois.  The principal depository and sales-house of the company is in Chicago.  The plants for manufacturing are situated in Santa Clara and San Jose.  In 1887 they made 250,000 gallons of wines, and 500 barrels of brandy of 50 gallons each; and they expect to enlarge their plants and increase their product from year to year.  Their goods are sold quite extensively in Kansas City, Omaha, St. Paul, and other principal cities of this country.

            George M. Jarvis was born in Savanna, Georgia, April 8, 1828, and reared in Edgar County, Illinois.  He was educated for a physician, but soon after leaving college he and some college chums concluded to seek their fortunes in the mines rather than in the pill-bags, and started for the gold mines of Australia in 1853.  They sailed on the ship Euphrasia, Captain Smith, with 500 passengers, bound for Melbourne.  A stop of a month in Brazil, and another at the Cape of Good Hope, prolonged the journey to six months.  Mr. Jarvis spent six years in the mines, with satisfactory success.

            While there he married an English lady, Miss Anna Cook, in 1859, whom he brought to California with him by the way of Sydney, New Zealand, and the Sandwich Islands, in 1860.  Mrs. Jarvis died in 1884, leaving eleven children.  A year later Mr. Jarvis married Mrs. Major Norris, whose former husband died in the United States Army.  After his death, President Grant appointed the widow Postmistress of San Antonio, Texas, which office she filled with marked ability.  She has one son by Major Norris.  Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis reside in Santa Clara.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Pg. 397-398

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy



SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight