Grapes were one of the money crops in the early days. Mostly raisin and wine grapes were raised here due to the difficulty of transporting table grapes to market in prime condition. In the 1880’s every established homesteader included a few vines in his family orchard.
Dr. Nugent purchased 320 acres in the 1890’s in the center of Alpine and planted some of it with grapes. Later Captain George Brabazon bought this acreage from his father-in-law, increased the grape plantings and built a winery, which he named the Monte Vino, making a good grade of red wine from Zinfandel grapes. The cuttings may have come from the early Mission vineyards. He ran the winery for a number of years before selling out to the Flegals. A landmark in the community’s center for nearly 90 years, the old winery vineyard stood, although uncultivated for its last seven years, until it was bulldozed away for the building of the Alpine Village Apartments on Arnold Way in 1969.
A report in 1910 on grape farming in Harbison Canyon was given by Neil Galloway that points out a good reason why grape culture was not pursued longer out here. “Twenty-seven acres of raisin Muscat grapes brought $10.00 a ton, cost $6.00 to harvest and $2.00 freight from the Lakeside train to San Diego. The farmer got $2.00 for hauling by team and wagon all day to the Cuyamaca and Eastern Railroad at Lakeside.”