Benjamin Dreyfus: Early Pioneer Jewish Wine Tycoon of Anaheim, California

Benjamin Dryfus

Values Codes  I-H-E-L-P

Mayor Benjamin Dreyfus, Anaheim, CA 1881 WS10/1464

Mayor Benjamin Dreyfus, Anaheim, CA 1881


During his lifetime, Benjamin Dreyfus, the business and civic leader of his community of Anaheim, was praised with these words:

“We cannot refrain from expressing the universal sentiment that Mr. Dreyfus is one of the best men – none more honorable – few so unselfish.”

Benjamin Dreyfus was born on Westheim, Bavaria in 1824.


Along the way

He arrived in Baltimore and was naturalized in 1851.



Benjamin Dreyfus arrived in Los Angeles in 1854


Los Angeles Business

Benjamin Dreyfus was involed in General Merchandising for a while.

Then he became the pomotional manager  for the Gambrius Brewry.

Like many other early pioneers, when he had some extra money, Dreyfus invested in real estate.

He was also one of the earliest oil refiners in the 1850s.



In 1857 Dreyfus became part of a Los Angeles/San Francisco investors group that raised money to start the Los Angeles Vinyard Co., to be located in the “Mother Colony” known today as Anaheim.

The Los Angeles Vinyard Co. purchased 1,200 acres of land and divided them into 20 acre parcels, each of which could sustain 10 thousand vines.

Dreyfus Winery, Center & E. Street, Anaheim, 1884 WS10/1466

Dreyfus Winery, Center & E. Street, Anaheim, 1884

Grape vines take time to plant and mature.

Benjamin Dreyfus moved to Anaheim and opened a store in 1858 with August Langenberg, called Langenberg & Co.

Langenberg ran the daily business while Dreyfus put up the necessary money.

They soon also opened a hotel and a bar.

By 1873, B, Dreyfus & Co. had 200 acres of vines producing over 175,000 gallons of wine – most of which was shipped to New York.

By 1880 B. Dreyfus and Co. was shipping 2-1/2 million gallons yearly.

Adv for Anaheim Wine Growers, 1863 WS 17/2402

Adv for Anaheim Wine Growers, 1863
WS 17/2402

B. Dryfus & Co. made both Kosher and non-Kosher wines.


Real Estate

In 1871, Drefus purchased 8,400 acres in an area near Los Angeles now called Eagle Rock and part of Glendale. He paid 10 cents an acre – $840.

12 years later he sold the property for $50,000 and retained the mineral rights.

His heirs sold their mineral rights in 1934 for an additional $77,000.



in 1872 Benjamin Dreyfus was named Water Commisioner of Anaheim.

From 1880 to 1882 he was President of the Anaheim Water Company.

Benjamin Dryfus was elected to the Anaheim City Council in 1880.

He became the Mayor of Anaheim in 1881.



Leah Dreyfus, circa 1875 WS10/1465

Leah Dreyfus, circa 1875

The Drefus family maintained two homes, one in Anaheim and another in San Francisco. Dreyfus would travel back and forth as necessary.

Benjamin Dreyfus married Leah Weil.

They had 5 sons, only two of which reached maturity, Emil and Walter


Benjamin Dreyfus died in 1886 and was buried in the Anaheim Cemetery.

In 1889 he was moved to Congregation Emanu-El’s Home of Peace Cemetery in Colma.

Leah Dreyfus died in 1912.




More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Dreyfus, Benjamin; Benjamin Dreyfus, Anaheim, California Vintner, 1825-1886. Gladys Sturman.; 36/4.
  • Dreyfus, Benjamin; Wine Country Tycoon of Anaheim; Southern California; Stern, Norton B. & Kramer, William M.; 9/3
  • Dreyfus, Benjamin.; Wine Tycoon; Anaheim and San Francisco, 1824-1886; Norton Stern; 41/4

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