Good Morning Gentle Readers,
By all accounts the swallows returned today to Mission San Juan Capistrano. The town of its namesake was once the center of life in Orange County. Few locals know that Dana Point, named for Richard Henry Dana, was once called San Juan Point.
St Joseph Day is an Italian-American day of feasting that celebrates food and giving food to the hungry. It also marks the birth of former hippie software developer, The Kosmik Kid.
It is of singular importance that the first vineyards in Alta California were planted at Mission San Juan Capistrano. This, my friends, was the dawn of California's wine culture.
Mission grapes (Criolla) were of uncertain origin, but recent DNA testing has linked the Mission grape to the Listan Prieta grape of Castile Spain, which is now largely extinct as a result of phylloxera outbreaks of the 19th century.
Somewhere out on a back road near Warner Springs, The House Blond spotted an adobe that was set back off the road and asked if, perhaps, Zorro might have lived there. This is the story.
San Juan Capistrano gave birth to the legend of Zorro with The Curse of Capistrano first serialized in 1919 and ultimately leading to a string of feature films.
The legend may have been inspired by the life of William Lamport, an Irish noble who immigrated to then-colonial Mexico and took the name Guillen Lombardo. His sympathies lay with the mestizos and the native indian populace. A supporter of the Mexican independence movement, his name turned up frequently on the King of Spain's enemies list.
Eventually imprisoned as an enemy of the crown, he escaped in a very Zorro-esque manner later spending many evenings leaving his mark and anti-Spain graffiti on the walls of Mexico City's buildings.
A dashing ladies man, his myriad affairs included many married senoritas as well as their daughters. Ultimately he was imprisoned after he was caught bedding the wife of the Spanish Viceroy of Mexico. The sentence? Seven years in prison followed by burning at the stake (Dude, that is harsh). As the bonfire was lit it is said that Senor Lombardo broke free of his bonds and strangled himself before the flames could consume him, thus denying his captors the pleasure of his suffering.
Mission Grapes photo appears courtesy of Swanson Vineyards.