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Our History

Since 1890 ... Experience the History.

Elliston Vineyards is a thriving winery and event space. The original carriage house serves as an elegant room for weddings and special events. The Elliston Mansion and property is open to visitors and wine tasting on the weekends.

July 1849

Gold Rush

The Elliston Vineyards estate was built by Henry Hiram Ellis. Henry arrived in California in July 1849 at the age of twenty, in hopes of striking it rich during the Gold Rush. After 4 years, Henry had “made good” and sailed back to his home state of Maine to marry his love, Elizabeth Capen.

Soon after in 1853

The Chief of Police in San Francisco

Soon after in 1853, they set sail for San Francisco, a rough, unruly and lawless city.  He then became captain and owner of a riverboat, a Pacific trading vessel, and a laborer at odd jobs in San Francisco.  He later became active in the local vigilante committees, eventually becoming a policeman, then Chief of Detectives. In 1875, Henry became the last elected Chief of Police in San Francisco, serving from 1875-1877. Ellis Street in San Francisco was named after Henry Hiram Ellis for his years of service.

In the 1870’s

Ellis' family

During this time, Henry and his wife Elizabeth settled in to San Francisco and made a home. In the 1870’s Ellis took up residency on Lombard Street, known for its many turns. Henry and Elizabeth raised six children in San Francisco.  One of their sons Henry “Harry”, married Jennie Coit – Coit Tower in San Francisco is named after this Coit family.

After his retirement in 1878, Henry took an old shipmate as partner in a hay and grain business, Ellis & Miller in San Francisco.  The same year, he made a trip around the world with members of his family.

In 1885

Elliston was built

In 1885 Ellis, contemplating retirement, bought a lovely oak-studded property in the agricultural district of Sunol.  Here, between 1885 and 1890, he built Elliston, a stately 17-room, three-story, neo-Romanesque mansion featuring graceful stone arches and 32-inch-thick walls of blue sandstone quarried in nearby Niles Canyon. Carved in the stone near the roof, is Henry’s personal monogram which includes his initials, HHE, a rope, and an anchor. Celebrities of the day visited Elliston included: Prince Kuhio and Princess Elizabeth of Hawaii during their round the world tour to visit Queen Victoria in 1898.

In 1890


In 1890, Ellis planted three acres of vineyards on his Estate, and it is known that wine was produced here. This acreage was included when the Sunol Viticulture District was named in the 1898 report to the State Board of Viticulture to consist of 14 vineyards totaling 148.5 acres and total cooperage of 25,000 gallons.

During this same time

Henry’s son Robert Ellis

During this same time, Henry’s son Robert Ellis constructed a building on the corner of St. Johns and Main Street in Pleasanton, and opened the Ellis Grocery Store.  Business prospered, they expanded the building and the name was changed to Ellis Brothers and Company General Merchandise.  They sold everything from dry goods and groceries, to household items and hardware items.  The location of the Ellis Bros store is now the home of the Rose Hotel.

In 1920

Died at the age of 91.

The last few years of Captain Ellis’ life was spent quietly working on his memoirs and managing his estate. He died on December 15th in 1920 at the age of 91.


Today Elliston is on the National Register of Historic places.