LESTER & LINDA SCHWARTZ, Owners, Founders
Lester and Linda met when they were students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. They were 18 years old. During their courtship they spent their limited student budget eating at cheap restaurants and drinking wine instead of partaking of the other substances that were the popular student items of the day. They were married in 1967. Nine years later the couple moved to California where Lester practiced law in San Francisco and Linda, a musician and composer, practiced as an Arts Administrator advising non-profit arts organizations. Longing for the country life he had experienced as a young boy, and nostalgic for the beautiful vineyards of their youth, they bought an enchanting property of virgin forest and open grassland above the historic Fort Ross. Here floating above the fog, high over the spectacular Sonoma coast and Pacific Ocean below, they planted their dream vineyard - and so Fort Ross Vineyard was born.
JEFF PISONI, Winemaker
Jeff spent his childhood immersed in his family, the farm and the vineyards. These influences, his father’s winemaking and an early interest in science allowed Jeff to know from very early on that he would pursue a life of making wine. He earned a degree in Enology from the California State University at Fresno, and after working at other wineries (Peter Michael and Bernardus), started making wine full-time with his family. Jeff loves the interwoven art, science and craft aspects of winemaking, and the never-ending learning and appreciation of nature found while working with the vineyards and wine.