Lillie Hitchcock Coit

Lillie Hitchcock Coit

In the 1870s, an army surgeon and his wife from North Carolina bought 1,000 acres between the Napa Valley towns of St Helena and Calistoga. Charles and Martha Hitchcock and their spirited daughter, Lillie, had arrived in San Francisco in the 1850s, where Lillie, captivated by the fire department as a teenager became the mascot of the "Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 5." Later, for her enthusiasm and unwavering support, she became patroness of all San Francisco's firemen.

Married to businessman (and womanizer) Howard Coit, 'Firebelle Lil' left San Francisco and her husband, to settle in the Napa Valley. Several hundred acres of her parents' property were given to her, and she built a beautiful Indian bungalow she named 'Larkmead' for the songs of its many larks. Sadly, the bungalow, a short distance from our vineyard, burned down. The Hitchcocks' charming existence - days filled with gardening, cooking, winemaking and entertaining company - are chronicled in the diaries of Martha Hitchcock and published in 'A Salon at Larkmead' by Drew Sparks and Sally Kellman. The diaries give a truly fascinating account of daily life in the late nineteenth century in this idyllic valley.

After her death in 1929 at age 86, Lillie left a third of her fortune to the city of San Francisco. Named in her honor as a benefactor, Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill is a tribute to Lillie and to the brave firemen of her city. Our Firebelle blend celebrates the spirit of this remarkable woman.


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