Cereza is today recognised as an Argentine white wine grape varietal, and Like Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris, Cereza has a pink skin colour. Though it is indigenous to Spain - where it is a natural crossing of Muscat of Alexandria and Listán Negro. Cereza is Spanish for ‘cherry’.
Research and documentation makes ampelographers believe that the grape was likely introduced to Argentina by early Spanish settlers. By the mid to late 20th century, Cereza, (also locally known as Ceresina, and Chereza) accounted for more than a third of all grapevines planted in South America. High yields and prolific nature of the varietal contributed to its appeal and planting with around 40,000 hectares planted by the 1980s.
But since then vine plantings have been slowly declining. By 2006 its area had dropped by approximately a quarter to around 30,000 ha. While the grape was once widely planted through Argentina, today it is mostly found in the San Juan province and eastern Mendoza wine regions. Though it is still the second most planted wine varietal in Argentina. After a long history in Argentina, the Cereza vine has adapted well to the hot, arid conditions and with limited irrigation became a reliable varietal. Cereza is a late-ripening varietal, and grows in very loose berry clusters.
Compared to the related, red-skined Criolla Grande clone; Cereza has a noticeably lighter, pink skin with larger berries which contribute very little colour-phenols during maceration. Resulting in white wines which are typically deeply coloured, and with some rosé wines which are usually intended for early consumption. Both wine styles also can have very subtle and even little aromas and flavours if made in more commercial styles.
According to wine expert Jancis Robinson; the wines can be fairly "rustic" and of a basic quality, especially when yields are kept high (as the vines can often produce in excess of 200 hectolitres/ha). In addition to wine production, the grapes are often used in the production of grape concentrate, which is used in winemaking.
The wines made from Cereza grapes are typically recommended to be consumed and enjoyed best in their youth, likely due to the low polyphenolic content of the grapes and the resulting wine produced not always ideal for aging. In general terms; Cereza grapes tend to produce lower quality wines and are often used in blending to make commercial ‘jug wines’ - though there are a select few passionate wine producers making Cereza wines to search out.