Just as Port is most often enjoyed at the end of the evening, our Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port is one of the last projectsduring the harvest season. The decision to harvest is the firstin the life of a wine and certainly one of the most crucial. When the grapes reach verasionthe energy of the plant goes to carbohydrate production rather than canopy growth, causing sugars to rise andacid levels to slowly fall. However, there is no magic sugar number at which to harvest because color, flavor and tannin have to bedeveloped as well. And here's the real clincher: if left too late into a dry season, grapes will dehydrate causing sugar percentage to rise disproportionate to sugar production. While grapes in this situation are over the proverbial mountain and on the way down for the ideal dry red wines, it is paramount for great Port production. Montevina Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port is made from grapes picked late during four different vintages.
Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port spends its first few days in the cellar being treated very similar to the rest of our zins, but the finale of the fermentation is quite dramatic. The grapes are crushed, destemmed, and sent to stainless steel tanks to be inoculated and fermented. Billions of yeast dutifully convert sugar to alcoholfor energy all the while extracting ripe juicy fruit flavor as well as tannin and color from the grape solids…unaware of their impending doom. When the tank reaches a carefully chosen sugar level, we introduce hundreds of gallons of unagedgrape brandy. After fortification, the alcohol level is high enough to create an inhospitable environment for the billions of faithful yeast and they die. Despite the wines ingratitude, the yeast leave behind a wealth of residual sugar. The sweetness balances out the higher alcohol and leaves the port velvety smooth. The higher alcohol solution extracts even more flavor from the solids for a few more days and then is pressed and sent to a combination of French, American, and Hungarian oak. Using a traditional “solera” method of aging, the newest vintage is blended with high-quality brandy and several previous vintages to create this harmonious dessert wine.