Grapes & Sunshine
Sun-Maid has earned its reputation as "America's favorite" for raisins and dried fruits. The process of making our raisins requires Thompson Seedless grapes - plump and flavorful - and the extended period of drying sun found in California's San Joaquin Valley.
It takes about 4 1/2 pounds of fresh grapes to make one pound of raisins.
Early in the spring, tender blooms appear on the grapevines. If weather cooperates, blooms turn into tiny grape bunches. Growers must irrigate their vineyards to encourage grape development. July is the hottest time of the year in the Valley, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). The sun and soil work a special magic, turning grapes gradually sweeter. By August, the grapes are plump and full of sweetness.
In the traditional harvest method, ripe grapes are picked and placed on clean paper trays laid beside the vines. Generally, it takes two to three weeks of hot, dry September weather to turn the sweet green grapes into plump, tasty raisins.
During drying, the hot sun bakes the vineyard floor, producing intense ground temperatures that caramelize the sugars in the grapes enough to give California raisins their distinctive flavor and color. Trays are rolled to even-out drying, giving our fruit consistent quality.
Sun-Maid growers continue to look for better ways boost yields and improve raisin quality. Sun-Maid also leads the industry in developing new methods like dried-on-the-vine (DOV) technology, which combines the natural sun-drying process with mechanical harvesting.