Vision Magazine - October/November 2023

Industry Chronicles

Andrew Stowe

Thompson decided to innovate. With resilience and creativity, he decided to market these sun-dried grapes as an exotic “Peruvian Delicacy.” The gamble paid off, mark - ing the birth of the California raisin industry. Thompson’s innovation set off a ripple effect. More farmers started experimenting with sun-drying grapes, realizing the economic potential of this newfound prod- uct. Within years, several vineyards in the state had ded- icated sections for raisin production. The region started gaining recognition for its premium quality raisins, draw- ing interest from both national and international markets. In addition, this period saw a lot of research into irrigation methods. Recognizing the vulnerability of their crops to climatic shifts, farmers and horticultur- ists delved deep into studying more sustainable and efficient ways to irrigate their vineyards. This spurred advancements in irrigation technology, ensuring that a similar drought in the future wouldn’t spell disaster for the industry.

By the turn of the century, the California raisin indus- try was booming. Numerous packing companies emerged, dedicated to processing, packaging, and distributing the state’s golden gems to the world. Raisins soon became a staple in American households, and the once modest vine- yards of California evolved into a global enterprise, thanks to a combination of nature’s wrath, human innovation and an enduring spirit of perseverance. A Global Powerhouse Today, Fresno County stands out as the heart of this industry. As of 2021, California boasts an impressive record, producing nearly all of the United States’ raisins and contributing to approximately 40% of the world’s supply. The country is the second largest producer in the world, behind only Turkey. On approximately 200,000 acres, the 2,000 California raisin growers produce approximately 300,000 tons annually in an area within a 60-mile radius of Fresno, CA, according to the Raisin Administrative Committee

70 Vision Magazine

October/November 2023

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