From what we understand today, the mill at Jack London Village is just about the oldest building in the region. General Mariano Vallejo built it himself as a saw mill in 1839, soon after his arrival in Sonoma. At the time there was a great stand of redwood and Douglas fir at the confluence of the Asbury and Sonoma Creeks, and so it was an ideal source for the lumber that would be needed. After ten or fifteen years most of the trees had been harvested, so in 1856 Vallejo sold the mill to Joshua Chauvet.

The Old Mill

Chauvet converted the old saw mill into a grist mill, using the grind stones his father had brought around the Horn from France. The two grind stones can still be seen resting by the front door of the mill. Farmers had begun settling the region, building fences and growing grain to be ground into flour, so Chauvet did quite well.

However, Joshua was French, and recognized how well suited the region was to viticulture. In 1880 he ran an ad in the Sonoma Index announcing that no more grain would be ground until after the grape harvest was in. The grist mill closed down soon afterwards, and was replaced by Chauvet’s winery, one of the first in the new wine country.