Mount Diablo area was the “pre-eminent” grape
growing region in the late 1800’s. By the
turn of the century one third of agriculture, especially
around the foothills, was planted with vineyards
for making wine.
the vicinity of Clayton through Walnut Creek to
Danville, grape vineyards gradually began to take
over both the valley floor and the hills. These
included the De Martini and Cereghino Vineyards
and Winery, the Glen Terry Vineyards and Winery,
the Mount Diablo Vineyards and Winery and the J.
Levi Vineyards and Winery. The Martinelli family
produced over 500,000 gallons at their Mount Diablo
facility (you may recognize the name from the famous
Martinelli sparkling apple cider).
grapes became the single most profitable crop for
Walnut Creek farmers, locals celebrated by having
the first Walnut Creek Grape Festival in October
of 1911. Alas, the grape mite “Phylloxera
vastatrix” invaded the luxuriant vineyards
that stretched for miles along the creek bottoms
and rolling hills. The vines died, and acre after
acre had to be plowed under. Farmers in Diablo
and adjoining valleys then turned in desperation
to the growing of almonds and English walnuts that
seemed to thrive.
fate of the grape in Contra Costa County was sealed
on January 16, 1920, when the highly organized
political power of the prohibitionists prevailed.
The Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, and the
era of Prohibition had begun. By the mid 1920’s,
the land that had been previously devoted to vineyards
was almost completely covered by orchards of walnuts
1936 the harvest celebration became known as the
was filled with vineyards in the early 1900's.
The Upham vineyard was located in the Alhambra
Valley on the outskirts of Martinez.