From our mountain vineyard that overlooks the Sonoma Coast in the Fort Ross-Seaview American Viticultural Area, Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery produces limited quantities of single vineyard, Estate grown, cool-climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage. With spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean less than one mile away, the vineyard is divided into 32 separate blocks, one-half to two acres in size, that range in elevation from 1700 down to 1200 feet above sea level. Owners, Lester and Linda Schwartz with their small crew began preparing the 52 acre vineyard in 1994. It took them 4 years of preparation before they could begin planting. The year 2000 marked the first vintage from the Fort Ross Vineyard.
This 2013 Pinot Noir welcomes with an alluring antique garnet hue that leads to the evolution of aromas that evoke delicate black tea, dried rose petals and orange peel harmoniously interwoven with elements of forest floor. The beautifully integrated palate is defined by red fruits, raspberry and dark cherry keenly balanced by the complexity of baking spices and savory notes followed by the Fort Ross Vineyard signature minerality and acidity. The soft, gentle, refined tannins continue to delight through the lingering, velvety finish. While we have patiently cellared this elegant Pinot Noir prior to release, it will evolve with grace for years to come.
After heavy winter rains, the spring was warm and dry, followed by a dry summer. The vines began growing quickly and fruitfully. To keep the crop load modest, we went through the vineyard three times to thin the crop and position the canes and the bunches. After an unexpected rainfall in mid-September, the vineyard had time to dry out before the harvest began. The Pinot Noir blocks were harvested between September 12 – 26, the Chardonnay blocks between September 20 – 22 and the Pinotage on October 1.
The grapes for this Pinot Noir were handpicked during the cool hours of the night in 2 gallon trays. After hand sorting, the fruit was cold soaked for several days and fermented in a combination of 5 and 10 ton tanks. The caps were punched down 1 or 2 times per day, depending on the stage of the fermentation. The wines were barreled in a combination of 30% new and 70% neutral French oak. Throughout the 10 months of barrel aging, the clones and different vineyard lots were kept separate to maintain their distinct flavor profiles and structural components as blending elements.