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by Fred McMillin
for January 14, 2000

 

Winery of the Week
The Doctor's Encore

Fogarty label  
Question: After a Palo Alto cardiovascular surgeon invents the "Fogarty catheter," what can he do for an encore?

Answer: In the Santa Cruz Mountains, you purchase some land near the Portola Valley skyline, start a vineyard-winery, and garner more accolades...not for a creative catheter, but for winning wines.

At least, that's what Dr. Thomas Fogarty did. He planted only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. His first vintage was the 1981. Critic Anthony Dias Blue wrote of the Pinot, "a dazzling first effort." He also gave the Chardonnay Three Stars, "rich, deep, elegant." They got plenty of attention from the winemaker, Michael Martella, because he and his wife lived in a house built ON TOP of the winery.

Michael is still the winemaker, and during his reign he has gotten even greater praise for his Gewurztraminer. I recall the 1991 getting high marks from my tasters, (see label). Aussie observer James Halliday wrote that Michael's Gewurz "wins sweepstakes and gold medal awards with monotonous regularity, the lychee-accented 1991 being no exception."

Michael still makes the wines, and keeps getting better. Veteran author Bob Thompson says the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are "beautifully crafted"; the Gewurz is "impeccable."


Prices

The last prices I have are for the 1997s, $12.50 for the Gewurz, $20 for the Chard and $28 for the Pinot.


Secrets

One of the reasons for the Fogarty success is use of Scott Henry trellising. Whazzat? When Dr. Fogarty was buying his Portola Valley land in the 1970s, to the north (in Oregon) Scott Henry was devising a trellising system in which half the shoots were trained upward and half downward. It increases leaf exposure to sunlight by about 60% compared to more conventional trellising, and increases grape exposure to sunlight as well. All of which helps explain why those Chardonnay and Pinot grapes ripen to perfection in spite of growing only 12 miles from the cool, foggy coastline. For more, contact the office of Marketing Director Anne Krolczyk, (650) 851-6777, FAX (650) 851-5840.


Postscript

With that superb Gewurz, the winery recommends a salad of Asian pears, sweet onions and Stilton cheese. For the one-sheet recipe, send your Fax number to Anne. For more about the wine-salad-cheese strategy, see the Dec. 9, 1999 WineDay, "The Valid Salad Problem."

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 


This page created January 2000

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