Muscat Grape
The Muscat Grape
The Muscat grape is considered by many to be the oldest known grape variety in the world. It has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region for over 3000 years. Some wine historians believe it was the first grape to evolve.


There is strong speculation that it originated in Greece and was brought through Italy into Roman France.  Subsequently, the Romans took the grape further through France and Germany and the rest of Europe. Early records show that it was shipped from the port of Frontignan in southwestern France during the reign of Charlegmagne.  

Pliny the Elder called Muscat "The Grape of the Bees" because of bees intense attraction to the strong aroma of the grapes. The French also noted the grape's sweet musky smell and called it "Musque".


Nearly every Mediterranean country has a famous Muscat wine varying from light and bone dry table wine to low-alcohol sparkling sippers to sweeter versions that can be fortified in a variety of ways.


Muscat wine was a favorite of the Avignon Popes. Pope Clement V, a wine aficionado, had a 70 hectare Muscat vineyard planted.


Today over 200 different varieties of the Muscat grape family exist and it is planted in most of the significant wine regions in the world.. Muscat is the only grape to produce wine with the same taste and aroma as the grape itself. The grapes are characterized by their musky aroma, sweet honeyed flavor and rich fruit and floral notes. The grapes can be eaten "out of hand",  be pressed into juice, be dried for raisins or drunk as fine wine.


Muscat grapes come in a variety of colors: red, pale green, pale yellow, golden, pink, brown, black and variations in between. The plant prefers a warm climate and seems to do best in damp, deep soils. The Muscat vine grows vigorously but is low yielding and is susceptible to a number of diseases.


Despite the fact that there are many varieties of Muscat, only a few are considered to be suitable for making wine. Most of the Muscat wines are made from four major varieties:


Muscat Blancs a Petits Grains (white Muscat with little berries)

This grape is generally regarded as being the best of the Muscat family. It varies in color from white to pink to dark reddish-brown. Because it is so widely grown, it is known under many different names.


Muscat of Alexandria

This is a very ancient variety thought to go back to Egyptian times. It is a high yielding grape with low acid and high sugar content producing wines with raisiny characteristics.


Muscat Ottonel

This is an eastern European variety that is used for dessert wines primarily in Austria and Croatia and dry wines in Austria and Hungary.


Hamburg Muscat

This grape is grown primarily for table grapes but is being used for wine production on a limited basis.