Resting unobtrusively on a back road in Madera County is the home of Ficklin Tinta Port. As it was from the beginning, 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.
During the 1930's and 1940's the University of California at Davis was testing the grape varieties used in the production of Portugal's premium red dessert wines under California's growing condition. The San Joaquin Valley showed promise for the propagation of these Portuguese varietals, and Walter Ficklin, Sr. became interested in growing wine grapes.
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. Ficklin Vineyards was incorporated on September 30, 1946.
When the long process of establishing a quality winery began, Walter, Jr. became the vineyardist. In the spring of 1944, he obtained 20 cuttings from the University of California Davis and grafted them to the family's established nematode resistant root stock. That fall, buds were taken from the growth of those first 20 cuttings and grafted to the existing 1613 rootstalks that were planted in 1945. This marked the beginning of what would soon become the finest Portuguese grape varietal vineyards in America.