by Fred McMillin
for October 30, 1998


Winery of the Week

Trick And Treat

Don Ignacio Vallejo"The founders of this country (those who accompanied Father Serra into California in 1769), among them my father, Don Ignacio Vallejo, told me that the Rev. Fr. Junipero Serra, of most celebrated and gracious memory, brought from Lower California the first vines, which he transplanted to the Mission of San Diego."

...From a letter written by General Mariano Vallejo in 1874 about an event that occurred 105 years earlier.

"It can be argued that the beginning of serious winemaking in North America was the summer day in 1769 when a Franciscan friar, Padre Junipero Serra, rode on his white horse from Baja California into the Spanish province of Alta California. The next morning he planted the root cuttings he had brought with him, in his saddlebag, of the Mission grape." Roy Andries de Groot, p. 30, The Wines of California,
Summit Books, New York

The Trick

I recall the excitement of starting Father Serra's account of his trip from the Loreto mission in Baja to San Diego. It listed the supplies he was taking north. No mention of cuttings. Then, it told of all the wild grapes he saw along the way. No mention of his After four and a half months, he reached his destination... And still no words about those cuttings...with good reason. There weren't any. We were tricked!

While General Vallejo no doubt believed what he wrote, careful scholarship by Roy Brady showed that Father Serra's fellow missionaries brought the first Mission vines to California about nine years later. And, they were planted at Mission San Juan Capistrano, a hundred miles north of Mission San Diego.

The Treat

Story VineyardHere's your Halloween treat. I hired the Story Winery to make a wine from the Mission grape using simple methods to replicate the first wine made in the Golden State by the padres probably in 1782. I will send a bottle free to the person who writes me the best sentence about what they would like stressed in future WineDay articles. Entry details are in the footnote.* (Incidentally, if you don't win the free bottle, you can order other Mission wines from the Story Winery by phoning proprietors Jan and Bruce Tichenor at (209) 245-6208.)

*Footnote—How to Win The Bottle

E-mail Your One-Sentence WineDay Advice to:

Fred McMillin at CLeake3114@[email-address-removed] or

you can send your advice to

  • Include an address to which the bottle may be sent legally. I'll pay shipping cost.
  • Last day to enter is Nov. 10, 1998.
  • Winner must be of legal drinking age within their state, the person who receives the shipment must be of legal age within that state. The winner must e-mail a document affirming all this before I ship the prize.

This giveway is in no way directly affiliated with the electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc., or any of its online partners.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.



WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin

W elcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.

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