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.
95 Points - Wine Advocate
"Pale to medium ruby, the 2016 Pinot Noir Stagecoach Road has singular aromas of spiced cranberry sauce and red berry preserves, juicy and dense, with accents of tangerine peel, bitter chocolate, moss-covered bark and laurel—a broody nose but wonderfully lifted by those bright red fruits. Light to medium-bodied, it's very silky in the mouth with layers of fruit, spice and earth, lifted by mouthwatering acidity and framed by firm, grainy tannins, finishing long and flavorful. 140 cases were made."
91+ Points - Jeb Dennuck, June 2019
The 2016 Pinot Noir Stagecoach Road saw the most new oak in the lineup spending ten months in 50% new French oak. It’s more concentrated and focused, yet is also the most backward, offering firm notes of mulled red and black fruits, chocolate, damp earth, and sappy herbs. With good acidity, medium to full body, and ripe tannins, hide bottles for 2-3 years and it should drink nicely through 2030.
A decadent nearly opaque ruby hue, Stagecoach Road Pinot Noir grapes are grown in the vineyard blocks closest to the ocean with some of the darkest soils on the estate. The beautifully perfumed aromas of dewberry, boysenberry preserves, violets, rose petals and tea leaves with a hints orange peel and chocolate swirl in the glass. The palate is layered with bramble fruit, black currant, plum and spice. The integrated, refined tannins show great finesse through the long finish with a grand finale of mouthwatering acidity. This wine is drinking beautifully now and will cellar for years to come.
2016 was another year of drought throughout California. Fortunately, Fort Ross Vineyard was not affected as the early December rainfall was sufficient to fill our irrigation ponds to capacity and even allowed us to have water at the end harvest. The ideal moderate weather on the coast leading up to harvest was free of heatwaves and rain, allowing the grapes to mature slowly and evenly to reach their optimal development. The Pinot Noir was unhurriedly harvested between September 3 — 20, one of the many advantages of growing grapes overlooking the cool Pacific Ocean. Chardonnay was picked September 17 — 26 and finally the slower ripening Pinotage on September 23 — 28. Our new block of Chardonnay, just off Meyers Grade Road had its first harvest in 2016 and the fruit is showing great promise. The lasting memory of the harvest is a vision of perfect bunches of grapes, with no side wings to delay the ripening, even berry size and a balanced crop hanging on the vines. These wines are vibrant and aromatic with excellent acidity.
Bottled Unfined and Unfiltered
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 then barreled in a combination of 50% new and 50% neutral French oak. Throughout the 10 months of barrel aging, the clones and different vineyard blocks were kept separate to maintain their distinct flavor profiles and structural components as blending elements. These grapes are sourced from specific blocks where the old stagecoach road used to run though our vineyard and where Black Bart the famous “Gentleman Bandit” Highwayman robbed the Wells Fargo Stagecoach in 1877.
WINEMAKER: Jeff Pisoni • CLONAL SELECTION: Calera