Bella Vista Ranch is a 77-acre vinyard nestled in the rolling foothills that rim the Suisun Valley of northern Solano County, California. We mainly grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, French Colombard, and Gamay grapes for wine and brandy, but we also grow olives for our Bella Vista Olive Oil. We also have a few walnut trees, and sometimes we plant row crops like wheat, soy beans, sunflowers and sorghum. Please explore this site to learn more about our story, what we do, and even some of the local history of Suisun Valley. We hope you enjoy our website.



Our Story

Bella Vista Ranch has a long, fascinating story that is more than a century in the telling. Today the ranch is where Bob Carty and his family make their home, and where they grow wine grapes and olive trees, but once upon a time it was home to the Suisun Indians. In fact, stone morter holes beneath nearby ancient oak trees, and obsidian arrowheads in the rich soil between the grape vines, belie the presence of this now extinct Patwin Indian tribelet. The Suisuns leader during the mission period was Sem-Yeto, better known as Chief Solano, and he briefly held a Spanish rancho, the Suisun land grant, which by 1847 was in the hands of General Mariano Vallejo.

Bella Vista Ranch came into being on September 6, 1866 when Joseph Cooper Wolfskill (1843-1914), a nephew of Solano County pioneers and grape growers John Reid and William Wolfskill, bought a 700-acre strip of contested land between the Suisun and Armijo (Tolenas Grant) Ranchos from Benecia businessman and land investor Samuel C. Gray. Joseph, with his father Mathus (1810-1891), planted wheat, oats, corn, and barley in the flats between steep ridges that bordered their acreage. Joseph probably also grew Mission grapes brought over from his uncle John's ranch at nearby Putah Creek. But prior to World War I, the vineyards and field crops gave way to orchards of apricots, prunes, pears, and walnuts.

Bob and Jean Carty purchased the old Wolfskill ranch house and the flat lands below it in 1963 from widow Ruth Gaston. They replaced the Wolfskill homestead with a modern Spanish-style house, and replanted the land in grapes. They also added additional acreage so that today the ranch encompasses 77 acres on both sides of Ledgewood Creek. Today there is also a newly planted grove of olive trees to compliment some hundred-year old trees on the ranch that date back to the days when the Wolfskill family still owned the land.

The name "Bella Vista" is Spanish for "good view" and stems from the expansive view that looks to the south across Suisun Bay to Mt. Diablo towering in the distance. Mt. Diablo translates, more or less, to the "Devils Peak", but that is the modern name for it, and the Indians no doubt knew Mt. Diablo by another name that is now lost to us. But we do know that the peak figured prominently in their creation myths. To the Spaniards the mountain was known as "Cerro Alto de los Bolbones", which translates to the "High Hill of the Bolbones" - the Bolbones (Volvones) being a band of Bay Miwok Indians who lived in their village of Volvon in the shadow of the mountain.

A report presented by General Mariano Vallejo in 1850 to the California State Senate claims that the name Mt. Diablo actually derives from an 1806 skirmish near the base of the mountain between Spanish soldiers and the Chupcan, a Bay Miwok tribelet related to the Bolbones. During this battle an Indian medicine man, adorned in feathers and paint, suddenly emerged from the bushes waving his arms and screaming wildly. The dance of this shaman so excited the Chupcan that they fought with renewed vigor, momentarily routing the Spaniards, and then escaping into the woods. The thicket of shrubs from whence the wild man appeared came to be known as "monte del diablo", or the "devil's woods". Later non-Spanish speaking settlers, confusing "monte" with "mount", corrupted this to Mount Diablo and assumed that it applied to the high hill of the Bolbones.

Today the "high hill of the Bolbones" overlooks a thriving agricultural community, the mainstay of which is the growing of wine grapes. New vineyards appear every year, and Solano County, of which Suisun Vally is the heart, supports a number of fine wineries. Bella Vista Ranch is proud to contribute to that industry and maintain the tradition of farming that has been the hallmark of Suisun Valley since the first Spanish settlers arrived here nearly two centuries ago.


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