Messina Hof Port and Moonlit Harvest 2013

Messina Hof has started their 2013 harvest celebration and we were invited to the Moonlit Harvest on Friday July 12th which was the first day of the harvest. I attended last year’s Moonlit Harvest alone and this year Gloria was able to attend.

Messina Hof Moonlit Harvest - Paul and Karen

Paul and Karen Bonarrigo

Last year Paul M. Bonarrigo became the CEO of Messina Hof and this year he took the responsibility for hosting the event along with his wife Karen. Paul explained how the Bryan vineyard grows Lenoir grapes and those were the grapes we would be harvesting. At harvest the brix level (sugar content) is checked and usually they harvest at 22-23 brix. The grapes at this time of year were about 20 brix and they would be using the harvested grapes for their dry style Sophia Marie Rosé wine. As the year goes on they leave some grapes to pick at 28-30 brix to be used in their Port wines.

If you haven’t had Messina Hof Port, you are really missing out on a good thing. Messina Hof’s Papa Paulo Port is the first wine in the world made without adding Brandy. Adding Brandy is commonly done with Ports to get the higher alcohol percentage and becomes a fortified Port. With a fortified Port you usually can feel the alcohol burn on the way down your throat. Since Messina Hof does not use Brandy, their Ports are a lot smoother to drink. In fact Paul V. and Merrill Bonarrigo spoke at the 2011 International Wine Tourism Conference in Portugal about their Port.

Besides harvesting at a higher brix which is partly due to the hot Texas sun, they also use special yeast in the winemaking to get the higher alcohol percentage found in a Port. The combination of yeast and higher brix makes for a fantastic Port or dessert wine.

Messina Hof Moonlit Harvest - Ports

Messina Hof makes over 6 different types of Port or Port-style wines. We know that number because we were fortunate to have a tasting recently at Messina Hof with 6 Port or Port-style wines. There was a difference between the wines but the common thread in all is they were excellent. Needless to say, the majority of those wines came home with us to enjoy at a later time.

The next time you’re in the store and you see a Messina Hof Port, feel free to purchase a bottle and you won’t regret it.

Please see our Facebook page for photos from the 2013 Moonlit Harvest.


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  1. says

    Great article Jeff! A Brandy free port sounds really interesting. Did you happen to notice what the alcohol content was?

    I’m going to have to see if I can get out there to visit them the next time I’m in Texas. It would be interesting to see how they do it and what yeast strain they’re using.

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