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Fort Ross Vineyard

Winery Opens First Vineyard Tasting Room In The Fort Ross-Seaview AVA

August 9, 2012, Fort Ross, CA - After three years of careful planning and construction, the Fort Ross Vineyard tasting room will open to the public on Saturday, August 11th. Fort Ross Vineyard is the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean in California. The opening makes this the first and only vineyard tasting room along the majestic Sonoma Coast in the FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW AVA. From the Tasting Room there are panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean framed by tall Redwood forests and golden meadows.

The tasting room is at 15725 Meyers Grade Road - 7.6 miles north of the mouth of the Russian River. From the sleepy village of Jenner-by-the-Sea, at the mouth of the Russian River, visitors will travel five miles north along the Pacific Coast Highway as the road follows the dramatic coastline. At the five mile mark they will turn right onto the iconic Meyers Grade Road that has been used as a location in countless films and car commercials. The Tasting Room is 2.6 miles up the hill from the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway One and Meyers Grade Road. At the top of the hill visitors will pass two sets of large wrought iron gates on the right. The second set of gates, set in tall basalt columns, is the entrance to the Tasting Room. Visitors will pass through a block of Pinot Noir grapevines and then, in quick succession, through a Redwood forest, a tree fringed meadow and by a pond. By the time they reach the tasting room they will have had a quick tour of the terroir of the Sonoma Coast and specifically the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA known for its vibrant Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinotage.

The Tasting Room, designed in the vernacular of the rustic barns that dot Sonoma County, has a steep roof made from corrugated Corten steel oxidized to an earthy hue with three cupolas perched on the top. Adjoining the main building is a classic tall water tower that houses the stairs leading to the cellar below and the offices above. The shingles that cover the walls of the building are reddish brown and mirror the bark of the surrounding Madrone trees. In front of the building is a long wooden pergola that is planted with heirloom climbing roses. The garden is filled with swaying grasses and the driveway travels around a circular stone wall that delineates a Botanical garden that is being planted with Proteas.

Owner and proprietor Linda Schwartz explained, “The Tasting Room reflects the same philosophy that governs the Fort Ross Vineyard. We did not seek out vineyard contractors or vineyard managers to install the vineyard, but studied the hilly terrain with great care and developed it ourselves with the help of a small group of vineyard workers. We have our own heavy equipment and personally take care of all of the tasks involved in planting and maintaining a vineyard and can set our own careful standards. The tasting room was designed by my husband, Lester, and the construction was managed in-house. The vision was to create a building that respects the environment and looks as if it rose out of the surrounding forest.”

Building Details
The building was built according to the latest U.S. Green Building Council Specifications, as laid out in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] Certification, and meets all ADA standards. It has solar panels, extra insulation above the ceiling and behind the walls, double- paned windows, energy saving electrical lighting, cross ventilation through the large windows to let the sea breeze replace the need for air conditioning, cool concrete floors and high ceilings.

Inside the Tasting Room are historic details chosen by Lester and Linda Schwartz. Over the bar are four old style pendant lights suspended on heavy metal pulleys. The glowing counters are made out of a massive slab of Onyx and the flowing arabesques in the stone can be illuminated by a lighting system installed below it. The table in the private Tasting Room is made from a massive industrial machine base with a simple zinc top that originally came from the Rue de Choisy, an avenue that ran through an industrial area of Paris in the late 19th Century. Around the table buckled leather chairs conjure up visions of African Safaris. The cool, mottled dark brown concrete floor was stained by hand and the varied shadings resemble well-worn rich leather. Surrounding the expansive patio, with its breathtaking views, is a handmade wrought iron railing made up of flowing grapevines that have been left to oxidize to the same reddish brown as the steep roof.

Visitor’s Experience
The Tasting Room will initially offer nine wines, all made from grapes grown on the Fort Ross Vineyard Estate, as well as some older vineyard Library wines. A state-of-the-art commercial kitchen has been installed allowing Executive Chef, Lorin Dewees, to offer food and wine parings that are available by reservation only. Special events will be held by invitation only for members of the Fort Ross Wine Club.

The purpose of the Tasting Room will be to share Fort Ross wines and educate visitors about the wine, history and diversity of the wild Sonoma Coast and the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. The Tasting Room is open to the Public from 10 – 6 p.m. Monday – Sunday.  Hours vary seasonally so visitors should call ahead to (707) 847-3460 or check the website at 

Opening Date:  Saturday, August 11, 2012
Hours:  Monday to Sunday 10 – 6. Hours vary seasonally so please call ahead. Tasting fees will be charged.
Telephone:  (707) 847-3460
Address:  15725 Meyers Grade Road, Jenner, CA 95450