The Mission grape has high sugar levels and very little acidity. Grape clusters are loose, helping the varietal resist mildew and mold. The Mission grape likes warm climates and is often harvested late in the season. Pigments rarely develop to a high degree in the grape, and it tends to make bland table wines.
Spanish Missionaries first brought the grape to Mexico during the 16th century. The vines that Father Juniper Serra planted at Mission San Diego in 1769 probably descended from these original grapes. During the 19th century, the Mission varietal fell out of use as European immigrants moved to California and began planting other varietals.
Nonetheless, the Mission grape continues to thrive in some warm, inland areas. There are currently about 1,000 acres of the grape in California. It is still made into small amounts of a fortified wine called Angelica. There are also a few wineries in Amador County that make table wines with the grape.
The Mission grape is genetically very similar to the Criolla varietal from Spain and they may be synonymous. It is no longer very important in that country.
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