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Smoldered by Smoke, Unbound through Distillation

Smoldered by Smoke, Unbound through Distillation

Fortis & Regia is a brandy made from Oregon pinot noir fruit that absorbed smoke from wild fires.

Smoke impact involves heavy phenolic compounds get bound up with sugar in the fresh fruit, letting their presence go virtually undetected, until fermentation liberates those compounds and makes a resulting wine described to me once as akin to licking an ash tray. Some winemakers have done some truly outstanding work to shape these affected wines into some remarkable bottles -- but it presents a remarkable challenge. Climate change and extreme weather pose a grave threat to wine growers. Trying to recoup your investment on a growing season lost to wildfires, drought, extreme disease / fungal / pest pressure is a bleak and often futile exercise. Distillation - involving the separation of molecules by boiling point - can liberate the alcohol and the wines more delicate, volatile aromatic compounds, capturing them and concentrating them into a spirit and shielding them from the elements of decay. For wine growers facing increasing pressure and uncertainty, options for what to do to stay whole become increasingly important.

Fortis & Regia gets its name from alchemy -- loosely interpreted to represent strength and resilience, riches and luxury. From the ashes springs something new -- and while far from the soft and rich wine expressions they had been grown for -- they find a second chance of life in this new form - as a brandy. A form that is protected from decay and spoilage -- and will sit, waiting for those who will enjoy it, whenever the occasion presents itself. And it will be just as lovely then as it is today. The fruit for Fortis was grown by Flâneur a vineyard and winery in Oregon making truly beautiful wines. We purchased approximately 600 gallons of their pinot noir that had been affected by the wildfires, distilled it, and rested it in a red wine cask for 2 years before bottling it at cask strength. This bottle celebrates community amongst the growers and makers of wine and spirits, and those of us who consume them passionately.

For this a favored brandy of ours we would like to recommend a cocktail.  The Zenie from Charle H. Baker's mixing classic Jigger, Beaker, & Flask.


This drink found its way down through the Islands to Mindanao from Manila, and we found it in the little Overseas Club standing high above the milk-warm waters of the Sulu Sea, on the suggestion of a new friend, just met; and while perusing the first edition of that Norm Anthony-George Delacorte opus Ballyhoo, which after having passed from hand to hand through most of the U.S. Army in the Islands from Colonels down was slightly tattered, but still placed in a rack of honour.

Charles H. Baker, 1939



1.75 oz Fortis & Regia

.75 oz Lime Juice

.75 oz Pineapple Gomme

2 bsp Maraschino Liqueur

5 dashes of Angostura Bitters


Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice.  Shake vigorously.  Strain into a chilled coup glass.  Smile.

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