Sigmund “Sig” Steiner: Escondido Pioneer & Creator of the Grape Festival

Sigmund “Sig” Steiner

Sig Steiner, Mayor of Escondido, CA

Sigmund Steiner, Mayor of Escondido, CA

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Sigmund Steiner, the son of Leopold and Julia Steiner, was born in Auburn, California, in 1865.

The family later moved from Auburn to San Francisco, where Sigmund attended public school.

Still a teenager, Sigmund Steiner came to San Diego, where he clerked for his uncle, Samuel Steiner, for five years in his store, Steiner & Klauber.



Learning quickly, Sigmund Steiner left the store and opened his own business in Escondido with his new partner, P.A. Grahamin 1886 — the year that the town’s site was laid out by the Escondido land & Town Company.

A second store was opened in Bernardo, a few miles south of Escondido.

Graham & Steiner Store, 1890s WS#1501

Graham & Steiner store, Escondido, CA, 1890’s, WS#1501

The Graham & Steiner firm was a general merchandise business, and supplied all needs for the small rural towns north of San Diego.

The new store advertised: Our prices talk and our name is a guarantee of the best goods and square dealing.”

Graham & Steiner prospered for many years.



When the Graham & Steiner built a new two-story brick building, the store added a much-needed auditorium for use by Escondido residents.

Sigmund Steiner also helped organize the First National Bank in 1905.

He was a City Trustee, and served as Mayor of Escondido for twelve years, 1894 to 1906.

Grape Day in Escondido, 1913. Postcard

Grape Day, Escondido, 1913, vintage postcard

Sig Steiner also was known as the father of Grape Day Festival, a grand festival that rivaled Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses.

The Grape Day Festival began in 1908, celebrating the burning of irrigation bonds, and was named for the grapes that were a major part of the area’s agriculture. The festival continued until 1950.

Steiner retired to Los Angeles in 1912, where he helped manage a number of companies.

Sigmund and his wife, Luna Steiner, visited Escondido each year until 1930 to celebrate Grape Day and greet old friends.

Sig Steiner and the Burning of the Water Bonds of Escondido, 1905, WS#1504

Sigmund Steiner and the burning of the water bonds, Escondido, 1905, #WS1504


Steiner was a lodge man and a Second Degree Mason.



Steiner was married to Luna Kies Andrews.


Sigmund Steiner died in 1945 at the age of 80.


  • Frances B. Ryan, “Sig Steiner: Father of Escondido’s Grape Day,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 8/4.
The Original Graham & Steiner Escondido Store, 1890s, WS#1502

The Original Graham & Steiner store, Escondido, CA, 1890s, WS#1502











Linda Kern is Curator for this Sigmund Steiner exhibit.