Vine & Dine

Fortino Winery

Wine-GT1547Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery

It’s hard to visit Fortino Winery’s tasting room and not buy something—and I don’t just mean wine. Their gift shop is loaded with fun gadgets, and as you’re getting through a flight of wines, one’s attention is drawn to nifty corkscrews, bottle openers and Fortino’s own delicious spreads. The Orange Zinfandel Mustard is killer.

But sampling Fortino’s well-made wines is the main reason to head to their welcoming tasting room. I recently enjoyed their estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($28) with its bold fruit-forward aromas of blackcurrant and flavors of spice, bell pepper and a hint of vanilla. Just the right amount of char and smoke is produced by aging in French oak.

Winemaker Gino Fortino says that their Cab is the last to ripen and last to be harvested, and the result is a wine that is bursting with juicy fruit.

But don’t leave Fortino’s without trying their superb fruit wines. The blackberry wine is reminiscent of something you would find in grandma’s pantry years ago; luscious wild fruit picked at its peak and made into drinkable nectar.

Fortino Winery, 4525 Hecker Pass Hwy., Gilroy, 408-842-3305. The tasting room is open Tuesday through Sunday.

Tasty Bites

A few of the delicious sweet offerings I tried at A Taste of Santa Cruz, an annual event benefiting the Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors Housing Foundation, included lovely sugar cookies from Midtown Café; Marianne’s/Polar Bear blackberry ice cream; Goose’s Goodies decadent toffee; and a gluten-free concoction from MÄKSĒ BAR—rice crispy treats made with organic butter and organic puffed rice, and flavored with favorites like peanut butter, coconut and chocolate. Visit for more info.

Farmhouse Culture

By now, you all know about Farmhouse Culture’s wonderful sauerkraut. Our lives are enriched by sauerkraut, seriously. I eat it with many dishes, and it notches up the flavor of a sandwich like you wouldn’t believe. Owner Kathryn Lukas certainly had a bright idea when she introduced sauerkraut into our lives like never before. At the company’s grand opening of its new facility in Watsonville in October, I sampled an abundance of kraut-laced dishes and washed them all down with Farmhouse’s new drinks—my favorite being the Ginger Beet. The ingredients are green cabbage, red beets, ginger, and sea salt, and it couldn’t be healthier. Visit for more info.

AGED GRACEFULLY Fortino Winery’s estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 is aged in French oak for just the right amount of char and smoke. PHOTO: KT GILLINGS

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