Marin Arts & Culture May 2017 - Page 38

Wine & Spirits Sonoma Portworks in Petaluma— How Sweet It Is By Ed Schwartz H ere’s a wine surprise. Petaluma has a winery right in town that makes some of the best port-style wines and sweet variants that are delicious all across the product line.  I have tasted and enjoyed these wine wonders and have them as part of my bar stock.  Sonoma Portworks (SPW) is in an industrial zone south of the main part of town. It is a destination easy to get to from anywhere in Marin and it is easy to park once you arrive. More than 20 years ago, Bill Reading, founder of Sonoma Portworks, was experimenting with a wine that might match with chocolate. He and a winemaking friend took some port wine and added some dark chocolate essence.  The result of this sweet marriage was baptized Deco.  It tasted great, so Bill developed a label that was as unique and jazzy as the elixir inside.  Buoyed by this success, they created Duet, a sweet sherry-style wine with notes of pure hazelnut extract—and a unique wine business was formed—and prospered.   Reading’s creativity extends to other drinkable delights. In addition to Deco and Duet, they now offer Aris Cask Reserve Port, Maduro, a reserve tawny port aged 11 years, Aris Petit Sirah Port, made from petit verdot grapes and Fig’n Awesome, a grappa nuanced with figs and aged in port barrels, making it exceedingly smooth. They recently introduced DYNA, a refreshing chardonnay- based aperitif. The ports are the highlights of the portfolio and each one is distinctive.  Here is news hot off the wine press—Sonoma Portworks soon will be coming out with a new port made from the rare Horton grape, America’s oldest, native variety.  Norton’s origins go back to Thomas Jefferson and his attempt to find a grape that could produce a wine similar to those produced in Europe. The grape is named after Dr. Daniel Norton who worked on creating it in his Richmond, Virginia, lab way back when. I also love Sonomic, “almost vinegars.”  Sonomic red is made with cabernet sauvignon and the gold from the muscat grape.  Be assured that you have never tasted anything like these two innovations. The taste of Sonomic is less acidic than vinegar and richer than balsamic. 38 MARIN ARTS & CULTURE Use a bit of Sonomic in a salad dressing to give it a lovely complexity—same idea with grilled meat.  And when I make my great red pasta sauce, just a glug of the red adds amazing flavor and the sweetness counteracts some of the acidity of the tomato sauce. Any Italian grandmother would envy this secret touch. Just remember to use