Number of Grape Vines at Missions in California1830s and 1840s
- San Gabriel 163,579 vines
- San Fernando 32,000 vines
- San Buenaventura 11,970 vines
- San Jose 11,039 vines
- San Diego 5,860 vines
- San Juan Bautista 5,200 vines
- La Soledad 5,000 vines
- San Antonio 4,000 vines
- Santa Barbara 3,695 vines
- San Rafael 2,000 vines
- Santa Cruz 1,210 vines
- Sonoma 1,000 vines
- Santa Clara 650 vines
- San Miguel 166 vines
How many vines in a California Mission Vineyard in 1830?
In the 1830s the Franciscans produced as much as 50,000 gallons of wine a year at the San Gabriel Mission, the fourth of 21 missions founded in California on September 8, 1771. The San Gabriel Mission, built from 1791 to 1805 with brick, mortar, and cut stone, was designed by Father Antonio Cruzado and is the oldest structure of its kind south of Monterey. The Franciscans planted the first working vineyard in California. There is a large “mother vine,” planted in 1861, which has grown to remarkable size and length. The vine’s DNA has been tested by UC Davis. It is the same variety as the original vines brought from Spain and it still producing grapes.
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I’m so glad to see this history project under way. Congratulations to you all! California wine history is a special “project” of my own as well. I just love that photograph of the grape vine at San Gabriel Mission. I use it in my wine history presentations I give to local groups interested in knowing about this fascinating topic. The sign on the vine is so laughably mendacious: the mission wasn’t even in its present location at that date; in 1783 Father Serra was still complaining about lack of wine at that mission, let alone vines; Serra had died in 1784, and may or may not have supervised the planting of grape cuttings at San Gabriel, brought from the first Alta California grape vines at Mission San Juan Capistrano planted in 1778: its first vintage may have been 1782-3; the “mother vine” referred to is that for the seven different vineyards at the San Gabriel mission, not the mission system as a whole; it was actually planted as a cutting in 1863 from the near-by Sunny Slope Winery and Vineyard of LJ Rose! What is most important about the picture is its symbolism of the “Romance of the Missions” nostalgia that came to be so much of our culture in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and the tourist advertising of California. Lots of “pastoral legends” were invented, as the actual facts were willingly glossed over or were simply forgotten.
Should you require further information, please consult my book, “Los Angeles Wine” a history from the Missions to the present; or the wine history books by Thomas Pinney, i.e., “City of Vines”. Again Bravo! and keep up the good work.