Father of California Wine
California winemaking began in San Diego County.
Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra planted
the first vineyard in Alta California at Mission San
Diego de Alcala in 1769. Additional vineyards were
planted at missions up the coast and the winery established
at Mission San Gabriel Arcangel in Los Angeles
County became the largest winery in California. The
grapes planted in early California were the blackskinned
Mission variety. When Alta California gained
its independence from the Spaniards in 1830, the mission
vineyards were abandoned and all but disappeared.
One vineyard planted to the Mission grape still
thrives in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation at Gypsy
Canyon Vineyards. Here, proprietor and winemaker
Deborah Hall crafts a dessert wine, Ancient Vine Angelica,
from her Dona Marcelina’s Vineyard in the
style of the Spanish padres who made a similar wine
from Mission grapes for their own consumption.