Published in the June 22 – July 5, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Debbi Sanchez

Debbi Sanchez

Debbi Sanchez

Our South Valley region is home to a vast selection of local wines made by award-winning vintners. With summer upon us, the choices are many and at times can seem overwhelming. Finding great summer wines to enjoy and pair with your favorite foods can at times be daunting.

Your friends at Fortino Winery say “fear not.” It’s time to be bold and creative and go forth and explore the great local wines of the southern Santa Clara County. First of all, if this is a problem you’re facing, take a deep breath — we’re talking wine. How’s that for perspective?

During the summer, the longer days and warmer nights in the South Valley afford fantastic opportunities to entertain friends, dine outdoors, or patio dine at your favorite local restaurant. What better way to enhance your dining experiences — whether at home or out on the town — than to pair your favorite meal with a great wine from one of our many local wineries. Winemaker Gino Fortino and his staff at Fortino Winery submit for your consideration two of our favorite wines — both perfectly suited for the summer months.

The first is our Gewurztraminer. This crisp white wine has bountiful floral and citrus aromas. It’s fermented in stainless steel to preserve hints of peach and lychee (from the soapberry family). Serve it chilled to pair beautifully with your favorite roasted vegetables, barbecued bacon-wrapped shrimp, and delicate cheeses. It also pairs well with seafood and grilled pork. It’s best stored horizontally in a wine refrigerator or a cool closet. Refrigerate it to 35 to 45 degrees prior to serving.

Our next summer wine suggestion is our Riesling. This is a slightly sweet wine that pairs wonderfully with spicy foods. Your favorite Indian and Thai dishes will bring forth a refreshing citrus aroma as hints of apple, peach and pear tickle the palate. Store horizontally in a wine refrigerator or cool closet, and serve at 45 degrees. Also fermented in stainless steel, Riesling is a wonderful summer wine that can also be enjoyed on its own, or paired with your favorite book while you’re relaxing on a deck or your favorite patio chair. To keep cool outside place opened bottle in ice.

Of course, no mention of Fortino Winery is complete without paying homage to our delightful Almond Champagne. Store it in a cool location and refrigerate to 45 degrees prior to serving. It’s worthy for toasting or sipping on any occasion. Immerse yourself into the subtle almond essence as the joy-filled bubbles of our signature sparkling wine take you away to your happy place.

For an extra special treat during the summer months, consider exploring the scintillating flavors of our Fortino Extra Dry Champagne — a 100 percent French Columbard varietal, blended with one of our delicious fruit wines.

Choose from our Apricot, Pomegranate, Black Berry, or Raspberry wines. Blend two parts Extra Dry to one part fruit wines. Chilled to cold serving is the rule here. Two tablespoons of crushed ice only enhances the experience. Pair it with anything… or nothing at all.

We realize the choices of local wines are many. Yet we confidently proclaim you ready to go forth, and boldly explore your wine options this summer. The South Valley’s vineyards are lush and beautiful, as the early summer temperatures have encouraged an early flower bloom and corresponding fruit set. The promise of an early harvest is in the air, as our grapes have made their annual debut. Walk among the vineyards as you enjoy a glass of wine, take a deep breath and remember it’s all about perspective.

Debbi Sanchez is the events coordinator at Fortino Winery. She wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.