History of Grape Stakes As a Cottage Industry in California

Splitting trees into other usable commodities became a cottage industry in the early days of the great boom of vineyards in California’s Vast Central Valley. Loggers located in Northern California would typically leave a stump of redwood approximately eight feet high. Thus, a cottage industry was created. The loggers and other independents would come back and split grape stakes out of these stumps and sell their wares to the vintners in the Valley.

Most of the grapes there are Thompson’s Seedless. My farm was in the center of the Raisin Capital of the West, quite possibly.

In 2007 I took down my irreparable barn. Business came to a screeching halt for a time, if you recall.I thought, “why not take down this old barn and sell the barnboard in Monterey?” I did just that and in so doing brought along about 100 grape stakes, having no idea what I’d do with them.

Well, a guy called me about the barnboard and I mentioned the grape stakes to him. “Don’t move I’ll be right there” he spat out once I told him I was in a parking lot close by.

My stakes were short. Most of them under 4 feet tall, but thick with a beautiful patina. He bought them all and desperately requested more. I brought what I had and he made a 7 foot fence with 3 and 4 foot pieces of grape stakes. That was 11 years ago and it still stands strong in Carmel Valley as I write this.

Granted a few get by me, but I recognize a good opportunity when I see one on occasion. A call went out immediately to the Custom Farmer who was farming my grapes to raisins crop. “Hey do you know anywhere I can get some more of these grape stakes”? “Let me make a call.” That afternoon my phone rang and a very serious voice on the other end says “You lookin’ for grape stakes”? Yeah, in fact I think I am”. “Well” says he,” I’ve got more grape stakes than you can shake a stick you better come see me”. I did and 11 years later we’re still best of friends.

However, reclaimed redwood grape stakes are harder and harder to come by. We’re very fortunate as of this writing to have a good supply of stakes ranging from three to six feet in height, thick, beautiful old growth redwood. Happy New Year! 12/27/18

Call me at 831-601-0619


Wilder Wheelright is an East Coast native currently residing on the Central Coast of California. He is an experienced real estate broker, writer, and has a strong commitment to preserving and improving our environment.