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Chorro Creek Ranch

A view across one of the three reservoirs at Chorro Creek. This reservoir feeds the vineyard and alfalfa fields. Cuesta College is in the background.

Chorro Creek Ranch is separated from Escuela and Walters Ranches by Highway 1. It is now utilized by both the Animal Science and Crop Science Departments. The Animal Science Department uses this ranch to graze purebred heifers both before and immediately after calving. The cattle are grazed on native range and crop residue. The ranch is also used to grow grapes for E&J Gallo Winery. Chorro Creek Ranch is maintained by Cal Poly Farm Operations.

Chorro Creek Ranch was first utilized by Cal Poly around 1959 when Cal Poly began leasing land to graze beef cattle for a new student enterprise project. By 1961, the area of land had grown to 582 acres for which Cal Poly paid the U.S. Army Corps $4,200 per year. In 1962, Cal Poly invested money to level the bottomland of Chorro Creek and began negotiations with the U.S. Army to pursue fencing and water development on the leased land. After much negotiating, a distribution system was developed in 1966 to deliver water to Chorro Creek Ranch from Whale Rock Reservoir near Cayucos. This added water allowed much more development of cropland and grazing land to further enhance Cal Poly's outdoor learning philosophy. Although Cal Poly had invested money to level Chorro Creek and develop a water system, they were still leasing the land and did not own it. In 1964, Cal Poly assumed ownership of this land, 582 acres, under a "transfer of control and possession" from the California Men's Colony.

Flattening of Chorro Creek cropland in 1962

This newly bought land was named Chorro Creek Ranch for Chorro Creek which flows through it. This land was used for cropland for student enterprises, and grazing land for the Foundation's Angus cattle herd.

In 1968 many projects were completed to improve Chorro Creek Ranch. These included and additional earthen reservoir and appurtenant irrigation lines, a multi-purpose crops and machinery building and a modern livestock corral.

In 1999, a state of the art commercial scale vineyard was established on this ranch by E&J Gallo Winery as a real world laboratory for teaching, learning, and applied research. The grapes are grown at this location and then shipped to Sonoma County where they are processed and made into wine. The Fruit Science Department often utilizes this facility for field trips.

For more information on the E&J Gallo Winery, go to their web site.

The College of Engineering in association with Mustang Flyers and SLO Flyers, Inc. maintain an educational flying range at Chorro Creek Ranch. For pictures and information on this project click here.

Click here for more pictures of Chorro Creek Ranch.


*Above history gathered from "An Illustrated History of Land Aquisition and Development for Agriculture Education," by John V. Stechman. 1985.