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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.

In 1983, while working at The Water Club in New York, Roy Hersh was introduced to the 1963 Sandeman Port. Sommelier Sam Correnti had purchased the 1963 Sandeman Port and “whenever he opened a bottle, he would call me in for the decanting,” Hersh recalled.

Correnti would decant the Port, pouring it through a cheesecloth to catch the sediment. “He would take the cheese cloth, with the sediment, and strain some into my mouth.” Tasting this 20-year old Vintage Port, Hersh was hooked.

Hersh, who holds both culinary and hospitality degrees and has worked in the restaurant industry in New York, Colorado, Virginia, Washington DC, Miami and Washington, spent the next 11 years saving up money to go overseas for the first time. His first trip was to Portugal in May 1994 and since then he has been more than 30 times.

Throughout this time, Hersh promoted Port wine, introducing it to many restaurants on both coasts, hosting tastings, and in 2000, Hersh began writing about Port and Madeira for the website WineLoversPage.com.

As a leading promoter of Port wine, Hersh was inducted into the Confraria do Vinho do Porto, or Porto Wine Brotherhood, in 2003. Hersh was one of only two Americans enthroned that year.

The Confraria do Vinho do Porto was established in November 1982 to promote Port wine, the sweet red, fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. The Brotherhood recognizes those who work in Port wine companies as well as journalists, retailers and advocates who work to share their passion for Port wine both locally and internationally.