Grapes were cultivated 6,000 years ago in Europe. There are over 60 varieties of grapes that are cultivated for wine making and over 50 varieties are in current production as table grapes. Over 200 years ago, Franciscan monks brought grapes to California for the purpose of making sacramental wine. As the population grew, more grape varieties were introduced. 40 years later, the first vineyard for table grapes was planted.
Grapes may be classified as red, blue and white – which are actually pale green in color. Each kind has its own particular character for wine making and as a table grape. Grapes, like fruit trees, require a stable climate in order to provide a dependable growing environment.
The area surrounding the Great Lakes is ideally suited for grape production because of the moderating effect that these large bodies of water on the weather. For this reason, vineyards are found in abundance, especially along the southern shores of the Great Lakes. Raisin production is perhaps the most labor intensive agricultural operation.
The bunches of grapes are cut from the vine and laid out in paper trays to dry for 2 or 3 weeks. During this time, they must be manually turned. This intensive labor requires a large work force of migrant workers who will follow the harvest. Migrant laborers are mainly aliens who may not be registered, causing much concern.
A one cup serving of grapes yields 57 calories, 6 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 2 mg of sodium, 1 gram of dietary fiber and vitamins A and C.