Now this really sounds like an oxymoron. Wine tasting in Fresno. When I grew up amidst the acres and hectares of vineyards, our grapes went into mostly raisins, cheap wines, champagne, and the newly minted “pop” wines. My how things have changed, for the better!!!
Did you know that Fresno County grows more wine grapes than any county in the U.S.? And the area is becoming a hotspot for boutique and family wineries. And much like the Napa and Sonoma regions, they have incorporated jazz dinners, music concerts, and weddings.
In addition, Ficklin Vineyards is America’s oldest port winery, founded in 1946, a great year for many of my Kingsburg High School Classmates (1964 Class). Ficklin actually resides in Madera, another sleepy valley town about 20 miles north of Fresno. This farm was actually purchased back in 1918, by Walter Ficklin. Shortly after in the 1930’s and 40’s, U.C. Davis was testing grape varieties used in the production of Portugal’s premium red dessert wines in California’s great growing region.
So, in that great year of 1946, Walter and his two sons decided to go all in, just port, in the tradition of the great vineyards of Portugal’s Douro Valley. Walter obtained twenty cuttings from U.C. Davis, and grafted them to their existing root stock. This was the beginning of what would become the finest Portuguese varietal grape vineyard in America.
The area’s Twin Rivers Vintners Association was formed in 2005 by winemakers who one goal: to let people know about the great wines of Fresno County. The name comes from the two rivers in the area, the Kings and San Joaquin Rivers. In fact, I grew up about 2 or 3 miles from the Kings River.
Some of the other wineries in the area:
Cedar View’s 2009 Zinfandel won a 4 star Gold Medal at this year’s Orange County Fair Wine Competition (2012). Only 35 wines received 4 star Golds out of the 4,000 wines judged. They have also received gold and silver medals at several statewide competitions this year for their Syrah, Cabernet, Alicante Bouschet, and Tempranillo.
Milla Vineyards is over 100 years old. Join their Misfit Wine Club and receive the following:
Free Membership to the Wine Club
Newsletters, Emails & Special Updates
Member Only Events
20% off all Wine and Merchandise
30% off case purchase
Exclusive pick-up parties
Exclusive access to newly released Wines
Complimentary Wine Tasting with the Wine Maker & hordourves for 4 people (call to schedule)
California Wine Month Reception & Wine Tasting
September 12, 2014, Media Reception 5:00 – 6:00 PM, Public Wine Tasting Reception 6:00 – 9:00
California Wine Month in September celebrates all that vintners and growers bring to the economy, culture and lifestyle of the Golden State. Join local wineries, restaurant and food producers for an evening of wine tasting, food sampling and live music – a celebration of our local wine industry!
So, you can see for yourself that the area is becoming better known for more than just peaches, table grapes, raisins, and melons. Next time you drive through the San Joaquin Valley, I would make a stop or two.
Thanks to my dear sister-in-law and her friend, Jolene, we are headed out on the town, wine tasting, dining, listening to music, and getting ready for Big Red vs. Big Red tomorrow, Fresno State Bulldogs play the mighty Cornhuskers from Nebraska. And she arranged a limo for us! Go Dogs, hoping for a big upset or at least a bountiful tailgate party.