What are criollas?

A. Special picking boxes used during harvest to minimize oxidation and damage to the grapes

B. A modern system of racks that can roll barrels making it easier to stir lees

C. A group of South American grape varieties that have a Spanish heritage

D. Refrigerated containers that are used to ship grapes long distances in the summer


The criollas (Spanish for “creoles”) are a group of Vitis vinifera grapes that the Spanish brought to South America in the 16th century, including the grape varities that were born in the Americas as a result of those original varieties. Some of these—such as the red grape listán prieto—were brought directly from Spain as seeds or cuttings and then carried by missionaries and conquistadors from one South American country to the next. Other of the criollas originated in South America itself, the result of natural crosses that formed between various European varieties. In Chile, listán prieto was called criolla chica (creole girl) and later renamed pais. In Peru, listán prieto was known as negra criolla, and in Bolivia, it was missionera. In Mexico, listán prieto was called misión (after the early missions where it was planted)—a name that the grape variety (mission in English) also held in California, Texas, and New Mexico.  Several subsequent criollas were born in Argentina.

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