Sonoma County and Napa in California have been known as being among the world’s top wine-growing regions. But California’s popularity might not have existed if it hadn’t been for the little-known story of Japanese immigrant Kanaye Nagasawa.

Nagasawa, who was born into a samurai family, was nicknamed the “Wine King of California.” He became in charge of one of California’s biggest vineyards, which annually produced more than 200,000 gallons of wine from the grapes grown on the Fountaingrove estate. Also known as the “Eden of the West,” it made headlines in San Francisco for its drunken celebrations, which caused Thomas Lake Harris to resign. Nagasawa bought the estate after Harris left and quickly became well-known in the state’s emerging wine sector.

The legacy of Nagasawa is not widely known. But the best tribute to this remarkable man may be the one written by his family on the plaque at Nagasawa Park, which summarizes his life in the phrase “Samurai Spirit in California.”