Undated photograph of E.W. Churchill (second from left) behind the desk at the Goodman Bank.

Churchill Era


Following H.W. Crabb’s death in 1899, Edward S. (E.S.) Churchill purchased the entire 527-acre To-Kalon estate at auction. The Churchills were a prominent family that owned several residences in Napa. E.S. Churchill and his son Edward Wilder (E.W.) Churchill worked at the Goodman Bank, which held the mortgage on Crabb’s To-Kalon and gained control of the property when Crabb’s debt exceeded the appraised value of his estate. Thus, the Churchills were well acquainted with the winery property.

In 1902, E.S. Churchill deeded the property to his wife Mary W. Churchill and passed away the following year. Mary W. Churchill, along with her son E.W. Churchill and daughter-in-law Mary A. Churchill, held the To-Kalon estate intact and produced wine and table grapes through World War I, the Great Depression, and Prohibition, albeit at a smaller scale than Crabb. In 1903, the family continued Crabb’s experimental legacy by leasing a 20-acre experiment vineyard to the U.S. Department of Agriculture; they ultimately sold the land to the federal government in 1922. In 1939, a disastrous fire burned the To-Kalon winery buildings and ended 50 years of wine production under the To-Kalon label. In 1943, the family sold the 527-acre To-Kalon estate to Martin Stelling Jr.

“E.S. Churchill Dead.” Napa Daily Journal. March 29, 1903.
“Fire Razes Famed Napa Co. Winery.” Napa Journal. May 30, 1939.
“Globe Trotter Gave Vineyard To-Kalon Name.” San Francisco Chronicle. June 21, 1934.
Heintz, William F. California’s Napa Valley: One Hundred Sixty Years of Wine Making. San Francisco: Scottwall Associates, 1999.
_____. “The Vineyards and Wine of H.W. Crabb, Oakville, Ca. and His To-Kalon Label.” Unpublished manuscript, 1980.
“Mrs. M. Alice Churchill Sells Famed Tokalon Vineyards to Martin Stelling.” Napa Journal. July 23, 1943.
Sullivan, Charles L. Napa Wine, A History. San Francisco: Wine Appreciation Guild, 1994.
Wallace, W.F., and Tillie Kanaga. History of Napa County. Oakland: Enquirer Print, 1901.
Image: Courtesy of Napa Valley Historical Society.
Vintner, Jeremy Nickel's "History of To-Kalon"