Alexander Murray

Kestler and Schwartz Ads

San Luis Bakery Ad

John Riiger Ad

San Luis Obispo’s First Wine Advertisements, 1868–69

by | Jan 22, 2018 | Wine History

Wine pervaded local life in San Luis Obispo at the time of the county’s earliest newspaper. Throughout 1868 and until it folded in 1869, the San Luis Obispo Pioneer printed advertisements for local general goods stores and saloons that regularly detailed the sale of wine. These early records of wine being sold at multiple locations challenge the mythic Wild West image of the man in a saloon swirling a glass of amber liquid. Wine may have been the more popular drink.

Alexander Murray on Monterey Street ran a weekly front-page ad for “the best of wines, liquors, and cigars” alongside schoolbooks, fruits, and so on. The same ad appeared for two years, though not always on the front page when national stories took precedence.

The third page of the Pioneer consisted mainly of advertising. The L. Schwartz New Variety Store advertised “wines, liquors, etc.” E. Kestler & Co. and Emanuel Laser, goods dealer, promoted with the same phrase.

Bakeries and confectioners also advertised the sale of wine, not something most people today would imagine alongside cakes and pies. The San Luis Bakery, run by G. F. Sauer, listed “groceries, wines, & liquors” above the bakery items. In October of 1869, John Riiger reopened his bakery, serving “hot lunch, lager beers and fine wines, at all hours.”

The two saloons that advertised weekly through 1868 and 1869—Cappe’s and Pony—noted the same lineup of “wines, liquors, ales, cigars” but with different emphases. Cappe’s claimed the “finest brands,” while Pony touted the “cheapest brands.” Neither specified whether the wines were foreign or domestic .

One ad that stands out is for Sauer & Little’s Eureka Bowling Saloon. On 29 May 1869, it announced the saloon’s opening and welcomed anyone who “may favor them with their patronage.” While the patrons bowled, they could enjoy “only the very best of wines, liquors, ales, and cigars.” The ad included an image of a bowling lane so big it had to be printed on its side to fit in the column.

The sale of wine is an important part of the City of San Luis Obispo’s modern economy. Advertisements in the Pioneer suggest it has been for longer than we think.

—Hayley Goodwein, Researcher, Wine History Project

Cappe’s Saloon Ad

Pony Saloon Ad

Eureka Bowling Saloon Ad

Wine History Project PO Box 1802, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406