Thompson Seedless

aka Sultana


While it’s true origin has not been found, the Thompson Seedless grape is assumed to be a close of the Sultanina grape which originated in Persia (modern-day Iran).  There is further speculation that the grape variety originated from somewhere near Turkey or Greece.  As a raisin, the Sultana grape was imported to the English-speaking world from the Ottoman Empire.  By way of the spread of the British Commonwealth the grape found its way to the United States.  In the U.S., the Sultana grape came to be known as the Thompson Seedless grape; so named after viticulturalist William Thompson.

Places It Is Grown

Today, Turkey and Australia are major producers of the grape.  It is also the most planted grape in California due to its triple use.  The grape is grown in very large quantities in the Central Valley of California.  It has also found a home in Arizona.  This grape is not known as a varietal (used as a blend in jug, and dessert wines), thus no vineyards will be listed as bottling this grape.

Properties Of Grape

The Sultana is a type of white, seedless grape.  The grape needs plenty of heat for harvesting which typically takes place sometime between August and September. The grape garners the distinction of being the most widely planted grape in California.  Much of its popularity is due to the grapes ability to be used in 3 different ways; table grapes, raisins and wine.

Most of the annual crop of Sultanas can be found sold as table or dried grapes.  In order to increase yields of grapes used in raisin production the practice of “girdling” (a.k.a dry scarring) is employed in order control (usu. increase) size and maturity.  When being used for wine production, the grape is well known for producing a wine of sweet blandness without distinction.  Thus, the grape is most used in the stretching of blends consisting of varietals in order to create jug wines.

On shelves in the United States the grape was commonly sold under the label of Chablis.  However, wines made from Sultana grapes are not true Chablis wines.  The Chablis wine label, protected in the European Union, is reserved for wine made from the Chardonnay grape.  For years the Sultana grape juice was fraudulently labeled and sold as Chardonnay in Australia.  In 20003 this fraud was uncovered and now the grape can be found in simple, but delicious fortified wines.

Partnering With Food

Rule #1: Matching the alcohol level and body of the wine to the heaviness of the food should make for a proper pairing every time.

Due to the grape’s characteristic of sweetness and being found in sparkling and fortified wines (dessert wines), wine made from Sultana grapes will best pair with the following foods:

  • Fish Pizza
  • Chef’s Salad
  • Exotic Fruit Salad
  • Oysters
  • French Toast
  • Lobster bisque
  • Melon Soup with Coriander or Cilantro
  • Salmon Tartare
  • Sandab
  • Goose

This wine will also go perfectly well by itself as an aperitif.

Restaurants With These Types of Dishes

To view restaurants that serve appetizers, entrees and other dishes that partner well with this grape type, click here….

About americanwinegrape

American Wine Grape Distributors Inc. AKA A. Silvestro Wine Grape, has been in business for over 5 decades. We are wine enthusiasts just like you and want to share in that enjoyment. This is why we are developing a new and exciting platform for growers, restaurants, sommeliers and home winemakers. Our goal is to bring the wine community together and is the driving force behind our new blog.

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