After a Mother’s Day brunch with my grown daughters, we headed over to sample the delicious wines of Hecker Pass Winery. Other families, kids and dogs with the same idea were already there, enjoying their picnics under the grapevine arbor.
Inside the tasting room we were greeted by the owners and winemakers, Mario and Carlo Fortino, and Rich Valencia, married to Mario’s granddaughter.
All of their wines are made from estate grapes that are dry-farmed from 71-year-old vines—which produce intense, rich flavors. The tasting menu organizes their 17 wines by medium-dry, dry, sweet and dessert wines. The medium-dry wines have less tannins and a splash of sweetness to them, in comparison with the dry wines which are fermented to zero percent sugar.
Cherry and blackberries are prominent in the 2009 Ruby Zinfandel ($25). This fruity wine is an easy-drinking crowd-pleaser.
Awarded a five-star rating by Beverage & Food Dynamics Magazine, the 2011 Petite Sirah ($30), is a robust wine of red fruits and hints of cedar. With well-structured tannins, it finishes silky smooth.
Finally, we sampled their double-gold medal winning Ruby Port ($27). You can happily drink your dessert with this wine—tasting of chocolate cake with a cherry filling. Their Marsala ($25), a rare find, has nutty flavors of pecans, walnuts and molasses and is another gold-medal winner.
Amidst acres of picturesque vineyards, this venue is a popular choice for graduations, weddings and other celebrations.