Kumeyaay tribespeople knew Mount Kuchumaa as the “exalted high place.” In their eyes, Kuchumaa was the womb of the world, the place from which creation sprang. Only shamans were allowed on the summit. It was a place of initiation for spiritual leaders, while the valleys and oak woodlands below were an important gathering place for the people.
Near springs and streams, in the shade of the oaks, families ground acorns into meal. Many morteros – communal bowl-shaped depressions, or “grinding rocks” – remain in flat boulders, testament to early habitation. To this day, the tribes’ few remaining elders and shaman continue to hold ceremonies on the summit.
The first known non-indigenous people settled here in the mid-19th century: the Federico family, from whom the Szekelys bought the property. The Federicos lived on registered land granted to them by Benito Juarez in 1862. Some of their grapevines are in our vineyards today.
A U.S. government report goes into great detail on the significance of Mt. Kuchumaa.