The holidays are behind us, but there is still the prospect of at least a couple more months of winter’s dreary weather before Spring arrives. In most of Northern California, this is shaping up to be a wet year. We need the rain and snow. But the long, cold, damp nights can certainly put a chill on the early part of this new year. A sip or two of Scott Harvey’s Port-style wine, Forte’ will help warm your bones and lighten your spirit.

Port originated hundreds of years ago in Europe’s wine-making and sea-faring regions when casks of wine were necessary to keep a ship’s crew happy and healthy during a long voyage. However, the constant motion, briny air, and variable temperatures in the hold of an old sailing ship would often ruin wine in the barrel. Nothing could lead to mutiny faster than running out of drinkable wine halfway through your voyage.

They found that adding some distilled spirits to the barrel stabilized the wine so it was still drinkable months later. And of course, it had a little extra kick to it. Over time, Spanish and Portuguese winemakers began producing “fortified” wines specifically to ship to England, because they would survive the long and arduous voyage. And apparently, the English enjoyed the extra kick.

Sea voyages have become a little easier since then, but luckily, Scott Harvey and Mollie’s wine-making expertise extends to fortified wines. The Forte’ Port-style wine is a delightful beverage that can keep even the saltiest of sailors happy through the long voyage from here to Spring.

Forte’ is made from four Portuguese grape varietals grown especially for Scott in Amador County. The wine-making process starts like any other red wine, but at just the right point during fermentation, Scott and his protege Mollie will add in enough high-proof neutral alcohol to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar content of about 10 Brix. By comparison, most of our typical red wines are allowed to ferment until there is very little residual sugar left, well under 1 Brix.

The Forte’s higher alcohol and sugar content are the hallmarks of a classic “Late Bottled” vintage Port-style, but since it is not produced in Portugal’s Douro Valley, Scott won’t call it “Port.” The name “Forte’” embodies the characteristics of the wine, it’s fortified, it’s stronger, and it is emblematic of Scott and Mollie’s expertise with a wide variety of wines.

So while we invite you to enjoy Scott Harvey wines all year round, the winter months are an especially good time to curl up with your significant other, a glass of Forte’ a good movie, a small plate of cheese and fruit, and a fire in the fireplace. Unless you were planning to sail off to Portugal for a couple of months, that’s a pretty good way to get through Winter.


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