California-born John grew up outside Pasadena in the La Canada foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. He attended UCLA film school, but in 1971 decided to seek the Age of Aquarius in coastal Oregon. Then in 1981, he obtained a job pruning vineyards for one of the leading upstart wineries in the Willamette Valley, awakening John’s genetic core harkening back to his winemaking forefathers of 100 years before in California. In 1982 John decided to try his own hand at winemaking and has been doing so ever since. That same vineyard job was also the beginning of a longtime friendship and business partnership with John Gilpin. Together, they’ve owned and operated an orchard, a vineyard management company that provides vines and services to numerous wineries, and Walnut City WineWorks.
In 1986, Davidson planted his own vineyard, La Cantera (the quarry), in the Chehalem Mountains AVA outside Newberg. In the beginning he made pinot noir mostly for himself. His growing library of La Cantera vintages remained closely held for family and friends, prompted partly by an irritable trademark attorney whose sense of terroir was skewed. Time passed. History called. And Davidson’s wines from his vineyard in the Chehalem Mountain AVA became an homage to his los Californios roots when the 1999 vintage was labeled Bernard~Machado La Cantera Vineyard after Davidson’s great-great grandparents, pioneers in the California wine industry and founders of the Los Angeles Wine Growers Association, circa 1873. Bernard~Machado pinot noir is now sold nationally.
La Cantera Vineyard Specs:
AVA: Chehalem Mountains
Varietals: Pinot Noir
Clones: LC1= Pommard Wadenswil / LC2= 114, 667, 777, Hanzel
Acres Planted: LC1= 12 / LC2= 16
Date Planted: LC1= 86 / LC2= 99 – 04
Elevation/perspective: 600’- 684’ S/SW
Owners: John Davidson
Wineries Sourced: Bernard Machado, Walnut City WineWorks, Westrey, Ayres, and Blackcap.
California to Oregon:
Winemaker John Davidson’s Heritage
Jose Manuel Machado (b. 1757; d. 1810) & Maria de la Luz Valenzuela y Avilas married 1780
Machado, a poor muleteer looking for a better life, enlisted as a soldado de cuerva (leather jacket soldier) to help establish missions in California. With ten other los Californios (Spanish and Mexican settlers) families, in 1781 they established the pueblo Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles. After living in other mission areas, the Machados moved to Los Angeles in 1797, by which time the population was 315.
Jose Augustin Antonio Machado (b. 1794; d. 1865) & Ramona Supulveda married 1827
In 1819, Augustin and his brother Ygnacio Machado and their friend Felipe de Jesus Talamantes acquired grazing rights to 14,000 acres in the area outside the Los Angeles pueblo, which they named Rancho la Ballona. Their fields yielded corn, pumpkins, beans, and wheat, while vineyards and clusters of fruit trees thrived along the banks of the creek. Augustin also owned five pieces of property in the Los Angeles pueblo. One was a 21.5 acre tract on Main Street between 4th and 6th streets. He sold 7.5 acres in 1858. Of the remaining 14 acres, 9were used for viticulture (with 5,000 vines), 5 for a townhouse. Augustin’s winemaking made him financially independent and proud.
California was ruled by Spain until 1822 when Mexico assumed jurisdiction. After two years of hostilities with Mexico, beginning in 1846, the area came under U.S. control and became a state in 1850, it was necessary for the owners of land to show proof of ownership. In 1852 the Machados and Talamantes were granted their land under U.S. laws, but poor descriptions of the boundaries (which orginally had been determined by a horse race) led to disputes over the next 20 years. Clear title of ownership was finally given in 1873, eight years after Machado’s death and the division of his estate among his 14 children.
Susan Machado (b. 1839; d. 1907) & Juan Bernard (b.1824; d.1889) married 1865
Susan’s father was not happy with her romance with Juan Bernard, not a Mexican and a widower with a daughter, and it was only after her father died that Susana married Juan. Juan (earlier Gian or Jean) was a Swiss native, born near the Italian border, who had found his way to Los Angeles via service in Algiers in the French Foreign Legion, travel around Cape Horn to the San Francisco Gold Rush, and as part of a French colony in Sonora, Mexico. He moved to Los Angeles in 1852 and lived there until his death. He was multilingual in English, Spanish, French, Turkish, and Italian. An accomplished brickmaker, he established a brick factory that supplied bricks for many buildings in the growing city, including the ST. Vibiana Cathedral. He was a founder of the French Benevolent Society and was close to the French winemaking community. He was involved in land development at Playa del Rey in the mid-1880’s that, if successful, would have established a harbor for Los Angeles. He was more successful in his activities in Los Angeles, being owner-developer of the Bernard Block at the southwest corner of First and Main Streets. He was very active in L.A. water issues and companies. He and Susana acquired the Los Angeles Wine Growers Association and its large bonded warehouse in 1873. Their nearby residence was described as akin to a French chateau.
Upon his death, Susana became executrix of his will and manager of an estate estimated at $594,000 ($12.2 million in today’s dollar). His distillery on the lot on Alameda Street contained “125 tanks, 100 win pipes, casks and puncheons.” Designed by noted architect John Parkinson, in 1902 Susan built a new residence at the northwest corner of Ninth and Lake Streets of Gothic and Moorish styles. Susana died in 1907, but the residence was home to members of the Bernard family for 40 years. On the California and national historic trusts, the property is now owned by a charitable organization.