It was given in 1839 by Governor Juan Alvarado to Antonio Maria Pico, Agustín Bernal (1797–1872), Juan Pablo Bernal (1810–1878), and María Dolores Bernal de Suñol. The grant encompassed present-day Sunol and Pleasanton.
The eleven square league grant was given to four children of José Joaquín Bernal (1762–1837) and Maria Josefa Daria Sanchez (1760–1858). José Joaquín Bernal, a member of the 1776 De Anza Expedition, was a soldier at the Presidio of San Francisco and the Pueblo of San José, and grantee of Rancho Santa Teresa.
Antonio Maria Pico (1809–1869), son of José Dolores Pico, was the grantee of Rancho Pescadero and married Maria del Pilar Bernal (1812–1882) in 1831. Pico sold his one fourth share of Rancho El Valle de San José to Juan Pablo Bernal.
María Dolores Bernal married Antonio Marie Suñol (1796–1865), born in Spain, a seaman on a French merchant ship and arrived in the Pueblo of San José in 1818. He held several public offices including Postmaster (1826–1829), and Alcalde (mayor) in 1841. In 1847 he bought Rancho Los Coches from a mission Indian grantee. Sunol, California is named for him. Suñol lived in San José, and his son, (also with the name Antonio Maria Suñol), moved to the rancho in the 1840s. There he built an adobe just west of the present Sunol Water Temple. Suñol lived there until his death at the hands of a squatter in 1855.
With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Valle de San José was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852, and the grant was patented to Antonio Suñol in 1865.
John W. Kottinger (1820–1892), an immigrant from Austria, arrived in California in 1849. He married Refugia Maria Agosta Bernal, the daughter of Juan Pablo Bernal, and they were given 4,500 acres (18 km2) from Rancho Valle de San José. Kottinger is one of the founders of Pleasanton, California.
By 1874, the Spring Valley Water Company had bought most of the land and water rights.
Historic sites of the Rancho
- Kottinger Adobe Barn. John Kottinger’s 1852 adobe barn is the oldest building in downtown Pleasanton.
- Ogden Hoffman, 1862, Reports of Land Cases Determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Numa Hubert, San Francisco
- Diseño del Rancho Valle de San José
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rancho Valle De San José
- Hoover, Mildred B.; Rensch, Hero; Rensch, Ethel; Abeloe, William N. (1966). Historic Spots in California. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4482-9.
- Victoria Christian, 2007, Sunol, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7385-5554-6
- United States. District Court (California : Northern District) Land Case 102 ND
- Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886
- Myron Wood, 1883,History of Alameda County, California