Resting unobtrusively on a back road in Madera County is the home of Ficklin Tinta Port. As it was from bottling, Ficklin's Port is widely acclaimed as one of California's finest port wines created in the Portuguese tradition. Walter C. Ficklin and his wife Mame purchased the present acreage in 1918, initially growing fruit and raisin grapes. Not until after World War II did the transition from raisins and fruit to wine production begin. In 1946, Walter and his sons Walter, Jr. and David decided to move into wine production, making two decisions which would greatly affect the winery's future success. They decided that the winery would produce only Port, in the tradition of great vineyards of Portugal's Duoro Valley, using the finest Portuguese Grape varieties. They also decided to keep the operation small so each step could receive the personal attention of the family. The Ficklins do not usually vintage their port, but use an age-old "solera" process to produce a blend that is consistent in character year after year. They never bottle all of a single year's crush. Some is held back as needed with each succeeding vintage. In theory, there is some of the first wine ever produced in each bottle of Ficklin Tinta Port sold. Today, Ficklin's vineyards cover some 35 acres planted to the same varietals that were planted in the 1940s. Annual production is just under 10,000 cases of the non-vintage Tinta Port. In very exceptional years, and there have been only seven of them since the winery was founded, Ficklin bottles a vintage-dated Port in limited quantities, usually under 1,000 cases.
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