gmhTODAY 18 gmhToday Feb March 2018 - Page 83

Kraig Youmans, Teri Fortino, Jill and Geno Fortino at a Chamber event in 2014. What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve? What is a favorite wine and food pairing? My goal is to make the best wine I can. I try to make the kind of wine I like, but also wines that the public will like. Lamb pops; a little over-rare and with the right seasoning along with a heavy Cabernet. What do you find to be the hardest part of harvest? Favorite award or accolade that you have received? Actually, I really like harvest. For me, harvest is the beginning of making the final product—where it all starts. It’s an exciting time where I get to be creative in the winemaking process. Also, because I have plenty of room with all the equipment (tanks, press, wine tanks, pumps and hoses) I need, harvest is a fairly easy process for me. We were really honored when we received the 2014 Small Business of the Year award from the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. What kind of vibe does your winery have? Most people don’t realize that I do a little bit of everything at the winery—from electrical and welding to working on cars. We don’t hire out for these small jobs; we’re old school. The other misconception is that people think that my dad still runs the winery. He hasn’t since 1995. We have a comfy, relaxed and friendly feel. There is always a family member on premise to talk to. But we are in the process of reinventing ourselves, trying to appeal to a newer, younger generation. We plan on offering more food pairings and music events. What recipe do you like to add wine to? Red pasta sauce with Italian sausage and ground hamburger. What is the biggest misconception about you? Is there a next generation ready to take over the Fortino legacy of winemaking? Any new releases or anything special on the horizon? We had some extra wines lying around and started mixing. We wanted to come up with something new and since we hadn’t done a rosé in 25 years, we came up with Petali di Rosa—a blend of four reds and two whites (and a favorite of this writer). We also have a newly-released Pinot Grigio and a new Carignane. That is the million-dollar question: who is going to take over the reins of the winery when Teri and I retire? Teri’s son, Austin, received a business degree from Humboldt and my son, Nic, is getting his ag business degree from Chico. Our sons are in the beginning stages of learning the winery business and are both showing interest. But only time will tell. Funniest customer story (something they said or did)? The other day a guy came in with a bag and unwrapped one of our old wine glasses. He had taken the glass after winetasting with us back in the 1980s and had felt guilty about it all this time. So we took back the glass and replaced it with a new one for him. Worst disaster you've experienced in your business? In 1982 a fire started behind our barrel room where we stored all our wine. The barrel room and part of our fermentation room were destroyed. We lost most of the older cabernets that were bottled and warehoused there. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 Bev Stenehjem is a local wine enthusiast, author and freelance writer focused on the wineries of Santa Clara Valley. Bev wrote “The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley,” a historical photo book published by Arcadia Publishing in 2015. Bev conducts occasional wine and food pairing events at the local wineries and through Gavilan College Community Education. She is passionate about shining a light on the world-class wines of the Santa Clara Valley and the people behind them. 83