When I stopped by Fortino Winery for a tasting recently, a favorite of mine that day was their Maribella red wine. One of the winery’s staples—there’s no bottling date on the label—the wine’s medium body and natural sweetness grab one’s attention. And at the price of $21, you’re getting a delicious wine at a reasonable cost.
“Three expressive grapes lead to an elegantly dark ruby color,” says winemaker Gino Fortino of the Maribella’s blend of lush fruit—harvested in Santa Clara Valley. Under the guidance of Fortino, this delightful blend is bursting with flavors of plum and black cherry, with “notes of dark chocolate that fill the glass.” Named in honor of Gino’s mother Marie, who founded the winery with her husband Ernest Fortino in 1975, the Maribella, says Gino, is a perfect fit for a luxurious dinner or just for sipping.
Gino, who has been making wine and running the winery with his sister Teri since their father handed over the reins in 1995, carries on the tradition of making wine the way his Italian immigrant father taught him—and half of their 50 acres of land are still dry-farmed, producing more flavor-intense grapes.
When you visit Fortino Winery’s tasting room, try their famous Almond Sparkling Wine with almond essence and delicious marzipan flavors.
Fortino Winery, 4525 Hecker Pass Hwy., Gilroy, 408-842-3305. fortinowinery.com. Open daily except Monday.
True Olive Connection
Not only does the True Olive Connection (TOC) sell an impressive assortment of vinegar and olive oil from all over the world, the store also carries a plethora of interesting spices, food and gift items, including: Lori Vainer’s granola—a healthy mix of oats, coconut, candied pecans, cranberries, cherries and more—which she makes in her Aptos kitchen; local Twins Kitchen conserves; Scotts Valley-based California Jam Queen’s products; and Carmel Berry Company’s Elderflower Cordial, a favorite to drizzle on desserts. TOC in downtown Santa Cruz always participates in First Friday Artwalk, so check it out.
True Olive Connection, 106 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz, 458-6457; and 7960 Soquel Drive C, Aptos, 612-6932. trueoliveconnection.com.