At an elevation of 1,499 feet (457 m), the community is located at the foot of a grade known as The Grapevine that starts at the mouth of Grapevine Canyon, immediately south of the community, and ascends the canyon to the Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains via Interstate 5 (formerly U.S. Route 99).The village and grade are named, not for the once-winding road known as the Grapevine that used to climb the steep mountain canyon, but for the canyon it passed through with its wild grapes that still grow along the original road. Its Spanish name was La Cañada de las Uvas.
In 1955, Charlie Ryan wrote and performed a popular song known as "Hot Rod Lincoln", about a teenager who races his souped-up Lincoln against a Cadillac up the Grapevine hill. While Ryan never drove up the Grapevine, this song was inspired by his own experience racing a friend between Coeur D'Alene and Lewiston, Idaho. The song was an answer to the 1951 song "Hot Rod Race" by Arkie Shibley, referring to the same stretch of road in central California.
The ZIP Code is 93203, and the community is inside area code 661. A post office operated at Grapevine from 1923 to 1960. The community of Wheeler Ridge lies three miles north of Grapevine on I5, with Lebec nine miles south.