Where does the name California come from?

A. A 16th century Spanish romance novel

B. A Native American phrase meaning bountiful land

C. A presidio of the same name in the Mexican state of Sonora

D. An early religious text used by Franciscan missionaries


A. The name California was used officially in Spanish documents as early as 1542. It comes from a description of a fabled, gold-laden island called California in the popular Spanish romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián) by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo. The island was ruled by a warrior queen named Queen Califia who ruled over a kingdom of black women. Some historians believe that the early Spanish explorers who moved north from Mexico may have thought that what is now California was an island.

Get WineSpeed

Join tens of thousands of other wine lovers. Get each week’s edition of WineSpeed delivered to your inbox every Friday. It’s fast. It’s free. It’s the smartest way to stay up to speed on wine.
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Be sure to check your inbox to confim your subscription.