History is fickle. Some events, moments and facets are recorded down to the last detail. Others, are left for us to wonder about. Like the name for the city of Gonzales.
Two brothers, Alfredo and Mariano Gonzalez, founded the town. At what point did the name change from Gonzalez with a ‘z’ to Gonzales with an ‘s’? That fact might never be uncovered, but what we do know about the beginnings of this city is that it was part of the Rincon de la Puente del Monte Rancho, granted to the brothers’ father, Teodoro Gonzales.
The brothers laid out the town in 1874 in a grid, streets went east to west and north to south. They granted a 100 foot right-of-way through the Rancho to the Southern Pacific Railroad, which cemented the town’s place in the Salinas Valley shipping hierarchy.
Realizing that water was the lifeblood of farming, the forward-thinking brothers built one of the first irrigations systems — a dam, head gate on the Salinas River and miles of canals that bordered Rancho Chular. Today, the canals are still used as markers for property lines.
Crops were planted. Alfalfa for the dairy farmers. As that industry waned, orchards then row crops took field precedence. Now, wine grapes cover the bench land above the Salinas River..
Today, Gonzales is the Wine Capital of the Salinas Valley, providing a starting point to some of the best vineyards in California.
It’s early history is notable.
At one point in the late 1800s, close to 10,000 tons of wheat and barley were stored in local warehouses.
The “Gonzales Cornet Band” was famous for its unique musicality.
The first bridge across the Salinas River was built here.
Gonzales is a jumping off point for: