Wine Line: Madera port maker distinguishes itself again

By Russ WintonJuly 11, 2012 

Ficklin Vineyards of Madera has received the California State Fair's 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award for wine industry leadership and contributions to the advancement of California enology and viticulture.

For 17 years, pioneering figures in the wine industry have been bestowed with this respected award.

Founded in 1946, Ficklin Vineyards has focused on premium port wine production using authentic Portuguese grape varieties and time-honored methods.

The Ficklin family is being acknowledged for its contribution to the California wine industry from the very beginning, with participation in experimental grape variety trials through the University of California, the original wine advisory board and the Wine Institute.

Today, the third generation continues to promote the value and quality of California wine.

"We are honored to be considered and recognized along with previous recipients, including many esteemed industry icons so highly deserving of this lifetime achievement award," said Peter Ficklin, president and winemaker. "The success of Ficklin Vineyards through the years was founded with the dedication of two generations before us, and we look forward to continuing that tradition. Every wine produced here is a direct result of that commitment to quality and family."

Ficklin Vineyards produces California port wines using only Portuguese grapes grown on the winery's estate vineyards. Annual production is fewer than 10,000 cases of the non-vintage tinta port.

In very exceptional years, Ficklin bottles a vintage-dated port in limited quantities of about 1,000 cases. The old vine tinta port is a consistent gold medal winner at all the major national wine competitions.

For more information, visit

Serious summer wines

I recently purchased a mixed case of serious summer wines at the "wine wall" at Raley's.

No, the 12 bottles won't get me through the summer, but these lighter wines (they're really not that serious) will pair better with lighter summer foods.

Four outstanding sauvignon blancs are the Veramonte from Chile, Cupcake from New Zealand; and Morgan and Dry Creek fume, both from California. I like pinot grigios from Flip-Flop and Mondavi, a fetzer gewürztraminer and a Mondavi riesling.

The four red wines I selected were the Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec, Montevina Barbera, J. Lohr Falcon's Perch Pinot Noir and the Kenwood Russian River Pinot Noir.

Remember to chill the red wines for about 15 minutes before opening. Kick back and enjoy the summer (seriously).

The East Bay Vintner's Alliance will host the seventh annual Urban Wine Experience on Aug. 18 at the Rock Wall Wine Co. in Alameda. More than 20 East Bay wineries will each be paired with a local chef for an afternoon of music, food and wine. For more information, visit www.eastbayvintners. com.

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