1939 image at the San Gabriel mission: Frasher Foto via http://ravenjake.typepad.com/blog/2009/07/the-old-mother-grapevine-of-san-gabriel.html .
“The “Old Mother Grapevine” was planted in 1861… and is one of the most beloved plants in California. She’s kind of a celebrity and has been since the turn of the century. At one point she covered 10,000 square feet…”
Ravenjake (at link above) quotes Ken Payton, from Reign of Terroir, “…the historically important Mission grape is still being used in California for blends and even for 100% variety bottlings. About 1000 acres of Mission remain under cultivation here, roughly the same acreage as Petit Verdot! Though a far less distinguished grape than PV, nevermind Cabernet or Zinfandel, the other ‘founding’ California vine, the Mission grape possesses an unrivaled caché in the state.”
More from Ravenjake: “Here’s another wrinkle in the whole ‘how old is she?’ debate, and that is that Mission grapes were planted maybe as early as 1771 – that sign sayin’ 1775 is about right. Mother Grapevine is maybe 500 feet from the mission, and could have been from the original vineyard. ‘Could’ve been,’ not ‘was.’ Now apparently, the 1861 date was based on an affidavit that the vine was planted by someone named David Franklin Hall of the Michael White Ranch (aka the Mission yard) in that year. Well folks, I’m not entirely convinced! I’m gonna keep an open mind until some more information comes in. All this tells me is that the minimum planting date is 1861, and she might be older – almost 100 years older! If the real date is 1775, then the old girl is 234 years old.
“The San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce newsletter says that when she was at her productive peak (as opposed to the petite decorative mode she’s in now) she produced one ton of grapes per year – enough to make 400-600 barrels of wine. They also say that despite her advanced age, she’s low maintainence – just periodic prunings to keep her on the arbor.”
Read more about it at the link above.
Today’s date could be written 3/9 so it could be considered ’39 Day.