Benjamin Dreyfus: Pioneer Jewish Wine Tycoon of Anaheim

Benjamin Dreyfus

Values Codes  I – H – E -L – P

Mayor Benjamin Dreyfus, Anaheim, CA 1881 WS10/1464

Mayor Benjamin Dreyfus, Anaheim, CA, 1881


Benjamin Dreyfus was born on Westheim, Bavaria, in 1824.

During his lifetime, Dreyfus, the business and civic leader of Anaheim, California, 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.”


Along the way . . .

Dreyfus arrived in Baltimore and was naturalized in 1851.


Los Angeles

Dreyfus arrived in Los Angeles in 1854, where he spent some time in general merchandising.

He later became the promotional manager  for the Gambrinus Brewery.

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

He was also an early oil refiner in the 1850s.



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

The Los Angeles Vineyard Co. purchased 1,200 acres of land and divided it 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, CA, 1884 #WS10/1466

Dreyfus moved to Anaheim and in 1858 opened a store 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.

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

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

Adv for Anaheim Wine Growers, 1863 WS 17/2402

Advertisement for Anaheim Wine Growers, 1863 #WS17/2402

In 1871, Dreyfus purchased 8,400 acres in an area near Los Angeles, now called Eagle Rock and Glendale. He paid just 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 Commissioner of Anaheim.

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

He was elected to the Anaheim City Council in 1880, and became mayor of Anaheim in 1881.



Leah Dreyfus, circa 1875 WS10/1465

Leah Dreyfus, circa 1875 #WS10/1465

The Dreyfus 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 whom 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.





  • Gladys Sturman, “Benjamin Dreyfus: Anaheim, California Vintner, 1825-1886,” Western States Jewish History 36/4.
  • Norton B. Stern and William M. Kramer, “Benjamin Dreyfus: Wine Country Tycoon of Anaheim,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 9/3.
  • Norton B. Stern, “Benjamin Dreyfus: Wine Tycoon, Anaheim and San Francisco, 1824-1886,” Western States Jewish History 41/4.