The once-derided Mission Grape is back

Tuesday, 18 January, 2022
Pix, Jeff Siegel
The historic grape is gaining steam as a fortified dessert wine.

The first time Patrick Cappiello visited the Somers Vineyard in California’s Lodi wine region, he couldn’t believe it.

The vines for the Mission grapes were higher than almost anything he had seen before — 12 feet tall, more than twice as high as most vines, and they seemed to form a canopy over the rows.“They looked almost prehistoric,” says Cappiello, the co-founder of California’s Monte Rio Cellars. “You really can’t compare it to anything else. I had seen photos, but it’s not the same thing.”

All of which was Cappiello’s introduction to what has become the Mission grape revival — not just in California, but in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as Chile and the Canary Islands off of Spain. The grape, though still little known and hardly likely to be found at the local bottle shop, has attracted the attention of an assortment of younger U.S. winemakers like Cappiello, and their passion and enthusiasm have helped renew interest in a grape that had all but disappeared.

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The once-derided Mission Grape is back
The once-derided Mission Grape is back

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