The Biale Winery is currently located on property with historical lore and pioneer spirit.
Silas Skinner, born in 1834 on the Isle of Man, England, was a mariner on a British ship to San Francisco and arrived in Sacramento in the fall of 1862. Striking out on a donkey for the mines near Jordan Valley, Oregon, he recognized the need for a quicker route to carry gold and silver ore to California. He built the Skinner Toll Road from Silver City, Idaho, to the Owyhee River which then connected to trails directly to Sacramento, and he also established his own cattle and horse ranch.

Sustaining a major injury from a horse accident, he was advised by his doctor to find a more suitable climate and moved to Napa. On June 2, 1884, Mr. Skinner purchased lot No. 13, one hundred forty nine acres for $14,900 from Silas Craddock and began to raise standardbred trotting horses from Kentucky. This land had been part of the old Sausal Rancho which contained 2240 acres, originally part of a Spanish land grant.

Mr. Skinner kept his livestock in Jordan Valley and made several drives of horses (100-125 head) annually to the Napa property. Many of the horses were sold for the San Francisco horse-drawn fire engines and horse-drawn trolleys. Occasionally horseshoes are currently found on the property from those days.

Mr. Skinner deeded his Napa property to his wife Annie (Callow) Skinner April 10,1886, only two days before his death. Annie continued as a capable manager of the Napa ranch while raising six children.

Oct. 3,1887, Annie Skinner sold 62.5 acres to Carson Hawley. Oct. 1905 she sold another 86 acres to Benjamin Stetson and moved to Berkeley.

Another division of the property was made by later owners leaving an eleven acre section closest to Napa running from Big Ranch Road to the Napa River, upon which the current Biale Winery is located.

Silas and Annie are both buried in the Tulocay Cemetery in Napa.

Information supplied by Mr. Robert Skinner
Jordan Valley, Oregon, 2008

Napa Skinner Ranch Gallery