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California National Landmark & Second Oldest Winery in the State

The Almaden Winery site is a designated California National Landmark and is the second oldest winery in the state of California. In the 1850’s, Charles LeFranc began cultivating vines on the site and importing varietals vines from France to begin the commercial wine industry in the Santa Clara Valley.

The wines LeFranc produced included Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir,Semillon, and others. For his contributions, Charles LeFranc is considered the “Father of Commercial Wine Making in the Santa Clara Valley”.

LeFranc employed a young immigrant from France, the Burgundy-born Paul Masson, who, in 1888, married LeFranc’s daughter. Lefranc and Masson became partners and, for a time, marketed their wine under the name Lefranc & Masson. Later, Masson started his own winery.

The Almaden Gardens incorporates many of the elements of the original Almaden Louis Benoist Gardens, designed by Thomas Church. This includes the original adobe wine cellar used by Le Franc, two lacy iron gazebos, mature oaks, olive trees and grape vines. Hedges from the Thomas Church design of the original Almaden Louis Beoist Gardens are an integral part of the park.

The park was designed to reflect “the needs of the neighborhood, the historic character of the winery, and the spirit of Thomas Church”. As stated in the plan document, “It has a foundation laid by a time and lifestyle of another era, a time that is remembered in the beauty and elegant simplicity of gardens serving the Le Franc family.”

Community structures include an administrative building which also used as a community center plus the original 1850’s winery building – one of the first adobe buildings in the area.

Landscape features of this 5.26 acre site contain a mid-section green belt which has mature vegetation and an extensive rose garden. There are also two lacy iron gazebos that overlook the Almaden Louis Benoist Gardens designed by Thomas Church.