Catano Winery is a small family winery in the Sierra Foothills specializing in wine made from Portuguese grape varieties. The first vines were planted in 1990. They included the red varieties Tinto Cao, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) for port wine style production. Since that time six more red and five white varieties have been added, mainly for table wine production.
Exploring Portuguese grape varietals in California
Native to Portugal, grown in California
Alvarinho A small cluster variety with pulpy berries makes it harder to pick and process. Berries and wine have an apple-like taste and aroma.
Arinto A higher acid variety. Two large clusters per vine shoot, easy to pick and grow. Makes a wine similar to Sauvignon Blanc, fresh and grassy like in style.
Fernao Pires Productive variety, sensitive to low ground moisture. Lower acid levels than Arinto. Wine can have a flowery, slightly muscat nose.
Verdelho A high acid and high sugar variety. The Azore island of Pico made Verdelho dessert wine famous throughout Europe in past centuries.
Viosinho A very productive variety with high sugars possible. Often used in white Port production.
Alfrocheiro newly grafted in 2018 is known for its deep color
Baga thicked skin berries, plenty of tannins, wild and rustic young wine has the potential to age. With blackcurrant fruit, the wine is cabernet-like.
Periquita "small parrot" also known as Castelao Fances makes a lighter wine than Baga with raspberry fruit. Vines are easy to grow, berries can take the heat and lack of water better than Baga.
Sousao a red pulp varietal used to add color to young ports. It can raisin easily with lack of water at harvest.
Tinta Amarela a port varietal with good color and flavor. Highly susceptible to bunch rot and ripening peak is a matter of a few days. Useful in table wines as a blender giving more body to lighter wines.
Tinta Barroca one of the top five grapes used in port production. Grows well in drought conditions, even wilted fruit can still make good wine. Also makes good table wines.
Tinto Cao another high rated port varietal, able to survive lack of water very well, but berry and cluster size very small. Lack of summer heat and too much water and the "red dog" bites. Not recommended for table wines.
Touriga Franca newly grafted in 2018, another top rated port varietal, lighter than Touriga Nacional, it ripens later.
Touriga Nacional considered the top port varietal. Deep color, powerful tannins with blackcurrant fruit all in one variety. Waiting for the tannins to mature before picking is important. Makes good table wines with ripe grapes.
Tinta Roriz known as Tempranillo or Aragonez in Spain is considered a top port variety. Color and flavor are reduced as yields go up. Most table wines need to be blended to increase the body