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  L.A. History
Our Roots Are in the Vines
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Our History

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When the Spanish settlers first arrived in Los Angeles, they found native grapes growing in abundance. They already knew from their experience in northern Baja, Mexico, where the same native grape also grew, that it was not suitable for making wine. But they took the vigor of the vines as a promising indicator that their own winemaking grapes would thrive. This promise was fulfilled in spectacular fashion and soon there were vineyards growing everywhere — in the foothills, in the flatlands and along the L.A. river, all the way down to Long Beach.

Los Angeles quickly became the epi-center of winemaking in California, a distinction it held for over a century. But during this period of rapid cultural and economic change, the native grape and the Spanish grape hybridized with each other. It is not known if this hybridization occurred naturally or was the result of human ingenuity. But the creation of the grape was auspicious for it provided abundant fruit and shade and became a favorite among gardeners and landscapers throughout the region. 

Timeline
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While it was not used to make

wine, the native grape was part

of the foodways of the Indigenous people of the area

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The Indigenous people of the area also used the vines for construction, along with tule and willow

The Indigenous people of the area had their own native grape precolonization

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Indigenous Era

1769

St. Junipero

Serra brings

first winemaking

grape cuttings to 

Alta California

1783

First vintage of Los Angeles

wine produced by San

Gabriel Mission

1809

Californio Antonio Lugo

plants the first documented secular vineyard in L.A.

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1831

French winemaker Jean-Louis Vignes comes to Los Angeles 

500 AD -1769

Mexican Era

1821 - 1848

Spanish Era

1769 - 1821

American Era

starts in 1848

1849

Discovery of gold in northern California spurs explosive growth in L.A. winemaking,
and harsher laws to coerce Indigenous labor 

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1876

Transcontinental Railroad reaches Los Angeles,
marking the beginning of industrialization and the
end of L.A. winemaking

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Our Story

In 2014, building on the pioneering work of grape geneticist Carole P. Meredith, scientists from UC Davis examined the Vina Madre, the oldest living grapevine in the city. They discovered that the vine, long thought to be of the Spanish winemaking variety, was actually instead a non-winemaking hybrid of the Spanish and the native from the late 1800s. The discovery disrupted the long-held romantic notion that the Vina Madre was a direct link to our winemaking and colonial past. But it replaced that notion with one that is more culturally diverse, one of decolonization, that connects us to the Indigenous past.

Plant the Vine devises from this discovery 
a unique chronological sequence of grapes -- the native, the Spanish and the hybrid. It uses this sequence in designing community vineyards that it plants in parts of the city where vineyards once grew. Through interpretive programs designed around these vineyards, Plant the Vine teaches a history and a science that catalyze change in how communities see the city, and see their role in shaping its future.

Our Story
Mission

Our Mission

To catalyze change in how Angelenos see the city, and see their role in shaping its future, through the establishment of community vineyards of historic and native grapes, planted in parts of the city where vineyards once grew.

Our Vision

Plant the Vine envisions a city of informed communities who, with knowledge of the city's grape-growing past, can imagine a greener, more just and more livable L.A.

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Stay Calm and...
Plant the Vine
It will grow

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Donate

Help us plant and grow.

For a greener, more livable L.A.

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