San Juan Ranch under the current ownership of John and Brenda Stephenson specializes in the production of purebred, registered Gelbvieh beef cattle and world-class performance quarter horses. San Juan Ranch consists of over 44,000 acres of rolling grassland found in California's Coastal Mountain Range and is situated midway between the Pacific Ocean and the fertile San Joaquin Valley in eastern San Luis Obispo county.
San Juan Ranch has a long history of livestock production dating back to the era of Mexican land grants. The earliest accounts of San Juan Ranch extend back to 1843 when Antonio Herrera made his way west from Taos, New Mexico, and settled the ranch. The bountiful grassland, seasonal creeks (including San Juan Creek), and abundant springs, created prime grazing conditions for Herrera to raise several thousand sheep. Following California's admission into the Union in 1850, Herrera was unable to perfect his land patent and lost control of the property. The property transferred into public ownership and, once surveyed, it was sold to private investors ranging in price from 25 cents to $1.25 an acre. In 1874 a Canadian by the name of Robert Flint purchased the headquarters of San Juan Ranch, as well as acreage extending up San Juan Creek, and moved onto the ranch. Flint grazed cattle throughout its rolling hills and cultivated crops on the bottomland property. Over time, Flint acquired additional property, expanding his holdings to 58,175 acres. Upon his death in 1892, Flint's two sons inherited the property and continued its tradition of livestock production until 1898 when they sold the property to a German immigrant, Henry Wreden.
Wreden, Sr. died in 1931 and his two sons continued operating the entire ranch. In 1941 just before the death of the eldest son, Henry II, San Juan Ranch was divided equally amongst the six remaining Wreden heirs into parcels ranging from 9,000 to 15,000 acres. Eventually, one-by-one, the six tracts of land that made up the original San Juan Ranch were sold and drifted into different ownership.
In 1998, John and Brenda Stephenson purchased an 8,300 parcel of land that included the original San Juan Ranch headquarters, the original adobe homestead on San Juan Ranch, as well as a sweet spring used by Herrera to water his sheep in the mid 1800's. With their acquisition of this land, the Stephenson's retained rights to the name San Juan Ranch and its associated brand. Over the past seven years, with determined persistence, the Stephenson's have reassembled a substantial amount of the original San Juan Ranch. Through several more acquisitions, the Stephenson's have expanded their holdings by an additional 25,000 acres, bringing the present-day San Juan Ranch to over 44,000 acres. It is estimated that the Stephenson's have acquired three of the six tracts of land divided amongst the Wreden heirs in 1941. It is the Stephenson's desire to reassemble San Juan Ranch in its entirety and preserve the property's rich and historic livestock production.