The San Joaquin Valley
Regional Information : Location / Climate
One of the richest agricultural areas in the world, the San Joaquin Valley measures about 220 miles in length and 40 to 60 miles in width, extending from around Stockton south to Bakersfield. The region includes eight counties: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern. The region home to approximately 9 + million people.
Well-suited for farming, the bioregion is hot and dry in summer with long, sunny days. Winters are cool and often blanketed with heavy fog. The broad, flat valley is ringed by the Diablo and Coast Ranges on the west and the Sierra Nevada on the east.
Irrigation of this land with limited rainfall comes from two huge reservoir and canal systems that bring water from the length of the Sierras to the Valley farmers. The major river is the San Joaquin, with tributaries of the lower Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced, and Fresno rivers. The California Aqueduct extends the entire length of the region. The southern portion of the region includes the Kings, Kaweah, and Kern rivers, which drain into closed interior basins.
Although grapes have been grown in the region for more than 100 years, there has been a continuing advance in grape and wine quality due to viticultural refinements, including new varieties, rootstocks, trellis systems and irrigation techniques.
American Viticultural Areas within the San Joaquin ValleyFrom North to SouthTracy HillsRiver JunctionDiablo GrandeSalado CreekMaderaThe San Joaquin Valley encompasses all or part of the following counties in California: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern
Regional Information : Facts & Figures
There are five million acres of irrigated farmlands planted to cotton, grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The majority of wine, table and raisin grapes in California are grown in this Valley. French Colombard is the leading variety with over 28,000 acres. Chardonnay is the second most planted grape with 16,000 acres. The red winegrape with the most acreage is Zinfandel at 14,000 acres. By far the largest producing area in the state, the San Joaquin Valley accounts for more than 50 percent of the total state winegrape crush. There are more than 30 wineries and five AVAs.
The eight counties share an emphasis on agriculture, although that emphasis differs among the counties. Farm employment as a percentage of total industry employment ranges from 7.3 percent in San Joaquin County and 8.3 percent in Stanislaus County to a high of 23.6 percent in Madera County, with Tulare County not far behind at 22.5 percent. For the eight counties as a whole, 13.8 percent of employment is in farming.
Taken together, the eight counties encompass nearly 47 percent of all of California’s farm employment and 36 percent of California’s farm acreage.