Inventory of the Paul Masson Records

Finding aid created by Manuscript Archivist Elizabeth Phillips.
Department of Special Collections
General Library
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616-5292
Phone: (530) 752-1621
Fax: Fax: (530) 754-5758
© 2010
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Creator: Paul Masson (Firm)
Title: Paul Masson Records
Date: 1872-2000
Date (bulk): 1872-1929
Extent: 2.8 linear feet
Abstract: Correspondence, ledger books, scrapbooks, and photographs from Masson's Santa Clara County, California, vineyards. Collection also includes notes on Masson by UC Davis Professor of Viticulture and Enology Harold P. Olmo.
Phyiscal location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored offsite.
Repository: University of California, Davis. General Library. Dept. of Special Collections.
Davis, California 95616-5292
Collection number: D-357
Language of Material: Collection materials in English


Paul Masson (1859-1943) was born into a family of winemakers in the Burgundy region of France. Throughout the 1860s, European vineyards had been devastated by a severe infestation of Phylloxera, and Masson's best option for finding work was to join other winemakers who had left for the United States. He set out for California in 1878.
Once in California, Masson was introduced to fellow Frenchman Charles Lefranc and began working with him at his vineyard, Almaden, in the Santa Clara valley. In 1888, Masson married Lefranc's daughter Louise and the business officially became the Lefranc Masson Wine Company. During this time, Masson began pursuing his dream of developing a California Champagne.
In 1900, Masson's Champagne won the Paris Award. The wine's popularity took off, and in 1905 Masson built his own winery, La Cresta, in Saratoga, California. Masson's reputation as a Champagne master continued to grow. Even during Prohibition, Masson was able to continue making Champagne for "ceremonial purposes."
Masson's profits during Prohibition were small, and by the time of Repeal in 1933, he had lost a great deal of his fortune. He sold off his portion of the Lefranc-Masson property, but held on to La Cresta as long as possible. In 1936, Masson sold the Saratoga winery to local stockbroker and aspiring winemaker Martin Ray.
Now known as The Mountain Winery, Masson's vineyards have become a popular sites for events and concerts. The Mountain Winery still sells both Champagne and non-sparkling wines from the vineyards' grapes.
Mountain Winery History
(Accessed 14 January 2010)
Balzer, Robert Lawrence. This Uncommon Heritage: The Paul Masson Story. Los Angeles: Paul Masson Vineyards, 1970.

Scope and Content

The Paul Masson Collection documents the operation of the Masson vineyards in Santa Clara County, California. The collection includes correspondence, notes, ledger books, scrapbooks, and photographs from Masson's Saratoga winery. Also included are some notes from UC Davis Professor of Viticulture and Enology Harold P. Olmo's research on Masson's life and work.
Additional materials related to the Masson winery may be located in the Harold P. Olmo Papers, D-280.

Related Collections

The following collections at Special Collections may also be of interest:
D-335, Martin and Eleanor Ray Papers, 1902-1993: Martin Ray purchased the Paul Masson Winery and produced wine there from 1936 to 1942. The collection includes: correspondence; manuscripts; business files; clippings; public relations files; and subject files relating to quality control, grape varieties, and vintages.
D-280, Harold Paul Olmo Papers, 1909-2006: This collection contains faculty papers including correspondence, research files, slides on grape varieties, grape variety reports by county, and materials relating to Olmo's activities in symposiums, conferences, and advisory boards.
D-363, Frederic T. Bioletti Papers, 1881-1935 : This collection includes correspondence, research material on grape varieties and viticultural practices, publications on a variety of agricultural topics, and a small series of specimen photographs.
D-060, Maynard A. Amerine Collection, 1911-1998: This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, wine labels, and pamphlets pertaining to the production of wine and spirits. Collection also includes travel diaries, menus, photographs relating to the Viticulture and Enology Department, California wine industry, and wine research.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Paul Masson (Firm)
Wine and wine making--California
Champagne and other sparkling wines


Collection is open for research.

Processing Information

Elizabeth Phillips, Manuscript Archivist, processed the collection and created the finding aid.

Acquisition Information

Separated from Harold Paul Olmo Papers, D-280. Gift of Richard W. Hoenisch, 1999.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Paul Masson Collection, D-357, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis.

Publication Rights

Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17, of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections, University of California, Library, Davis as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Collection Contents

Box/Folder 1:1

Abstract of Title 1872

Box/Folder 1:2-11

Correspondence and Notes 1979-2000

Scope and Content Note

Some folders include notes by Harold P. Olmo.
Box/Folder 1:12-13

Correspondence Books 1894-1895 1897

Box/Folder 1:14, 4:1-3

Ledgers 1872-1893

Box/Folder 4:4

Ledger (Almaden) 1929

Box/Folder 4:5

UCD.PIC.D357.2009.0001 Photograph: Cellar No. 5 undated

Physical Description: Two photographic prints
Box/Folder 4:6

UCD.PIC.D357.2009.0002 Masson Building Over Cellar, San Jose (After Earthquake) 1906

Physical Description: One photographic print
Box/Folder 4:7

UCD.PIC.D357.2009.0003 Old Masson Ranch (Now Masson Co., Martin Ray) undated

Physical Description: One photographic print
Box/Folder 4:8

UCD.PIC.D357.2009.0004 Paul Masson (About 40 Years of Age) undated

Physical Description: One photographic print
Box/Folder 4:9

UCD.PIC.D357.2009.0005 USA Universal Exposition Grand Prize, Paul Masson Champagne Company [1904]

Physical Description: One photographic print
Box/Folder 4:10

UCD.PIC.D357.2009.0006 Vineyard Building? undated

Physical Description: One photographic print
Box 2-3

Scrapbooks undated

Physical Description: Two scrapbooks

Scope and Content Note

Contain clippings and wine menus.