General Information: Viticulture was originally brought to California by Spanish Franciscan friars, who in 1769 began cultivating grapes at California missions in order to produce sacramental wines. It was not until the 1800s that the production of table grapes became popular. William Wolfskill, a former trapper is credited with planting the first table grape vineyard on land just outside of present-day Los Angeles in 1839 (California Table Grape Commission). By the mid 1800s, as the gold rush brought more and more miners to California, would-be miners began investing in table grape vineyards instead of ore to make their living selling fresh fruit to the miners.
Today, California accounts for 99 percent of all U.S. commercially grown table grapes and table grape vineyards cover more than 80,000 acres in the state. However, compared to other grape uses, the table grape industry accounts for a small portion of the total grapes grown.