Artisan Wines, Traditions of Italy found in a new Sonoma Tasting Room – Portalupi 2008 Barbera

Winemaker Tim Borges greets guests daily

There’s a new tasting room off the Plaza in downtown Healdsburg, California: Portalupi Wine. Healdsburg lies at the convergence of 3 renowned Sonoma county wine-growing regions: Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Alexander Valley – also known as the Wine Road. The Plaza is host to a number of tasting rooms, dining and lodging establishments. Here Jane Portalupi and Tim Borges have created an engaging oasis where you can experience the full portfolio of Portalupi wines, learn about wine, and recharge. Tim has been making wine and building winery businesses in Napa and Russian River Valley since the 1980s. Over the years, he developed relationships with the vintners he now sources grapes from. Many are highly-sought-after grapes from proven vineyards. This allows Portalupi to craft their distinctive artisan wines.

Jane and Tim began Portalupi in 2002, with the name and wines inspired by their rich Italian heritage. Jane’s family came from the Piemonte region of Northern Italy, known as the birthplace of the Barbera grape. Jane’s grandmother Marina began making wine in the late 1800’s in Piemonte. She later became a successful entrepreneur retailing Italian food and wine in California.

A Focus on Learning about Wine

Tim is in the tasting room every day, pouring and sharing his wine knowledge with guests. He offers daily sensory seminars including basics such as “understanding wine varietals” and “how to read a label.” If you are new to wine, or just enjoy talking wine with winemakers, this is a great opportunity to immerse yourself right in the center of Healdsburg.

Recharging in the Portalupi Tasting Room

Tech-Savvy Tasting and a “Non-Club”

In addition to free high-speed Wi-Fi, Portalupi’s tasting room is equipped with charging and docking equipment for every variety of device. Apple iPads are used on the tasting bar and Portalupi will even loan you one to use while you are there! Also in the neuvo spirit, Portalupi’s wine club requires no advance purchase commitment. Dubbed Appassionato, “non-club” membership benefits include 10% wine discounts, complimentary tastings and wine classes, and free case shipping.

The Wines

Portalupi’s grapes come from vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, Monterey and Nevada counties and the Central California coast — including Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands. This access to fruit is reflected in a diverse portfolio of varietals and packages – from the new 1.89 Liter Red Wine packaged in a real milk jug (equivalent to 2-1/2 bottles of wine), to the petite 500 ml Dessert Wine made in the Porto style.  Portalupi also produces white wine and red wine blends, a Paso Robles Pinot Noir and 3 Zinfandels. In keeping with the food wine theme they also offer a selection of branded olive oils and balsamics.

We tasted through the list, from the white wine blend to the Port, savoring each stop and bottle shape along the way. With the family’s Italian heritage, it’s no surprise to find Barbera on the list.  Below we review the current vintage of Barbera — Nevada County 2008.

Jane Portalupi and Wine Family

“Sip and Fit” January Restorative Event

The Tasting Room is available for corporate parties, birthdays, and tours with customized wine education and fun, personalized wine gifts. To help wine country dwellers and visitors recover from holiday excesses, Portalupi is hosting “Sip and Fit,”  a wine country revival weekend with Live Fit  and Healdsburg’s Camillia Inn, January 21-23.  Contact the Camillia Inn for details — ask about special rates for locals to participate without lodging.

Portalupi Tasting Room is open daily, 10:30 am to 7:00 pm and online. Located 1 block off the plaza at 107 North Street, Healdsburg CA, 707.395.0690.


Wine: 2008 Portalupi Barbera — Penn Valley, Nevada County

Color:  Deep, inky purple

Aromas: Sea salt, pepper, wet slate.

In the Mouth: Layers of fig, plum, and licorice. Pleasant heat at the back of the mouth with a long finish. The wine doesn’t come across as high-alcohol despite it’s 15.3% content. Rustic and bold — a food wine.

Pairing: Taste with Fig Newtons. For fine dining, pair this Barbera with braised lamb shanks or wild boar carpaccio.

Price: $36

Portalupi 2008 Barbera

Wine Geek Details:

Alcohol: 15.3%

Harvest: 10/07/08, hand picked

Brix = 25.8

TA = 0.77

pH = 3.23

Vineyard: Pendagio Vineyard

Acreage:  3 acres Prunato clone

Cases Produced: 350

AVA: Nevada County, CA

Aging:  18 months in Slovakian medium plus toasted red oak barrels, 1/3 new; 1/3 1 year old; 1/3 2 year old

Winemaker: Tim Borges

Portalupi Website


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