Listán Prieto (lee-STAN pre-ET-oh)

A dark-skinned grape (prieto means “dark” in Spanish) native to the region of Castilla La Mancha in central Spain. In the 16th century, listán was brought on several occasions to the Americas where the grape had a profound influence on the early viticultural history of many countries. Indeed, listán prieto was the first European (Vitis vinifera) variety to be cultivated in the Americas. The grape was brought directly and independently to Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. In Chile, listán came to be known as criolla chica, “Creole girl” (see criolla) and was later renamed pais. In Mexico, listán was introduced by Franciscan missionaries who renamed it misión. It travelled eventually to Baja California (present-day Mexico) then up to Alta California where it was planted (spelled as mission) at the Mission San Diego de Alcalá around 1770. In Argentina, listán prieto crossed naturally with muscat of Alexandria to create several grapes including cereza, torrontes riojano, and torrontes sanjuanino. A small amount of listán prieto is still grown on the Canary Islands in Spain, and a huge amount is still grown in Chile as pais. In California, as mission, there are about 600 acres left.

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