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Fort Ross Vineyard

Fort Ross
June 6, 2021 | Fort Ross

2018 "FRV" Chardonnay

92 Points - Wine Spectator
Powerful, with savory richness to the mix of intense fresh cut apple and pear flavors. Crunchy acidity fills the finish, which features buttery hints to dried sage and tarragon accents. Drink now through 2025.

92 Points – Wine Advocate
The 2018 Chardonnay Estate has a restrained nose of baker's yeast, Bosc pears, hay and acacia with a nutty undercurrent. The medium-bodied palate is savory with opposing tanginess and a refreshing finish. 

92 Points - Wine Enthusiast
Robust in oak with a light touch of acidity, this estate-grown white is coastal in character, with firm supple tannin and a lasting freshness. Brioche, pineapple and toasted hazelnut combine around a rich note of honey.

91 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
The base 2018 Chardonnay Fort Ross Vineyard is impressive, offering lots of honeyed orchard fruits and white currant fruits as well as some spice and brioche aromas and flavors. It's rich, medium-bodied, balanced, and simply an outstanding effort to enjoy over the coming 2-4 years.

★★★★+ EXCELLENT - Ronn Wiegand MS/MW, Restaurant Wine
Fine and intense in aroma/flavor with notes of white peach, pineapple, roasted nut, lemon peel, and toasty oak; it is a crisp, full bodied Chardonnay. It shows excellent character, fine balance, and a long finish. Best version yet of this wine. Great value.

Time Posted: Jun 6, 2021 at 9:03 PM
Fort Ross
May 18, 2021 | Fort Ross

Sonoma Magazine Features our Protea Garden

Our Favorite Winery Gardens in Sonoma

By Megan McCrea, Sonoma Magazine May 2021

"Proteas on the Coast: In a nod to the owners’ native South Africa, a vast collection of rare proteas takes pride of place at coastal Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery. Look for the ‘Pink Mink’—pink flowers with black feathery tips—and the ‘Scarlet Ribbon’ Pincushion, a bright-red bloom with orange spikes."

We are so happy to see our lovely protea garden featured in Sonoma Magazine. Now is the best time to view them as they are in full bloom - reservations are from 10am to 3pm, Friday - Monday. Book online or call us at (707) 847-3460 to reserve your tasting!

Time Posted: May 18, 2021 at 4:15 PM
Fort Ross
April 13, 2021 | Fort Ross

Spring 2021 Releases: Wine & Food Pairings

Spring is a dynamic and captivating time at Fort Ross Vineyard as the sun breathes life into the coming vintage. The vines have begun to wake from their winter slumber as budbreak began on March 30th. It is an ideal spring on the Sonoma Coast with many warm days and crisp nights, the entire property is starting to blossom. There is no better time to come visit our beautiful outdoor patios overlooking the Pacific Ocean to enjoy these spring releases! Savor springtime with Fort Ross Vineyard wine paired with exceptionally refreshing dishes.

2018 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay & Ricotta Fava Toasts

"The delicate, milky flavor of fresh ricotta pairs with the grassy, lightly sweet taste of fava beans. Use best-quality cheese, produce, and bread here for a toast that’s more than the sum of its parts." - Food & Wine Magazine

Our 2018 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay matches the creaminess of this dish while creating balance with vibrant acidity. 

Recipe here.

2018 Bicentennial Pinot Noir & Skillet Roasted Chicken with Spring Vegetables

"Tender vegetables simmer in a mixture of chicken drippings and butter in this simple, speedy dish. The attached drumette gives these airline chicken breasts more flavor; bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs make a good substitute." - Food & Wine Magazine

With its lifted acidity and bright red fruit characteristics, the 2018 Bicentennial Pinot Noir enhances this delightful spring meal without overwhelming the flavors. 

Recipe here.

2018 Top of Land Pinot Noir & Roasted Maitake Mushroom with Pearl Couscous, Pea Shoots and Fava Bean Salad 

Fort Ross Chef Michael Dotson uses fresh ingredients that represent our vineyard - both Fava beans and peas grow in the cover crop between our vine rows, helping to keep our soil alive and healthy. Make your own tahini dressing to drizzle over it, and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days! The 2018 Top of Land Pinot Noir will highlight the earthiness of the mushroom & umami of the dressing while allowing the other vegetables to shine.

Recipe here. 

Time Posted: Apr 13, 2021 at 5:50 AM
Fort Ross
April 12, 2021 | Fort Ross

Roasted Maitake Mushroom with Pearl Couscous, Pea Shoots, and Fava Bean Salad

Springtime 2021 selections

Fort Ross chef, Michael Dotson has prepared this recipe to be enjoyed with our newly released 2018 Top of Land Pinot Noir


1 cup pearl couscous

1 cup water

2 T. virgin olive oil

1 t. turmeric

1 T sea salt

½ cup halved mini/baby carrots

1 large shallot sliced in ¼ inch thick rings

2 T. virgin olive oil

12 ounces maitake mushrooms

2 T virgin olive oil

2 T. butter

Small handful pea shoots

½ cup shucked, blanched and peeled fava beans

Tahini Dressing*

Kosher or Sea Salt and fresh pepper


1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees

2. In a pot, toast couscous in olive oil until some of it starts to turn golden brown. Add turmeric and stir in. Then add water & sea salt, cover and turn down heat to low.

3. Cook 10 minutes and check to see if all of the water has absorbed. If not, cook 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer couscous to a cookie sheet to cool.

4. Brush a sheet pan with oil. Toss carrots and shallots with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread evenly on half of sheet pan. Place clusters of mushrooms on other half and brush with olive oil and melted butter; season with salt and pepper.

5. Roast veggies in the oven until just tender and lightly colored, about 20 minutes.

6. Toss couscous with veggies, fava beans, 2 tablespoons of dressing, salt, pepper and a couple good pinches of pea shoots.

7. Divide pea shoots among 4 bowls or salad plates and spoon equal portions of couscous salad over pea shoots. Top with a cluster of mushrooms and drizzle a teaspoon of dressing around plate/bowl and over mushroom.

Tahnini Dressing

This light, flavorful tahini dressing can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. 


2 T minced shallots

1 T minced fresh ginger

2 oz, rice vinegar

1 t. white miso

2 T water

3 T tahini

1 t. salt and 3-4 twists of fresh pepper

2 oz. any neutral oil


1. In a bowl, whisk first 7 ingredients together well and emulsify oil in. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed or vinegar balance to your liking.

2. Let sit an hour before using so flavors can meld.

Time Posted: Apr 12, 2021 at 5:30 AM
Fort Ross
April 10, 2021 | Fort Ross

Bucatini with Mushroom Ragu, Dandelion Greens, and Tarragon

Springtime 2021 selections

This Food & Wine recipe is best paired with our newly released 2018 Top of Land Pinot Noir


1 ounce dried morel mushrooms (about 26 medium morels)

4 cups hot water
½ cup unsalted butter (4 ounces), divided

2 cups finely chopped yellow onion

⅓ cup finely chopped carrot

2 ¾ cups finely chopped fresh cremini mushrooms

½ cup finely chopped celery

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste and for garnish

¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

½ cup (4 ounces) dry white wine

2 thyme sprigs

2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

4 quarts water

12 ounces uncooked bucatini pasta

1 medium bunch dandelion greens or spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped (about 3 cups)

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon, plus tarragon leaves for garnish

1 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated with a Microplane (about 1 cup)


1. Place dried morel mushrooms in a large heatproof bowl; add 4 cups hot water. Place a plate on top of mushrooms to keep submerged. Let stand until mushrooms are plump, about 30 minutes. Lift mushrooms from liquid, and squeeze gently to remove excess liquid. Reserve liquid in bowl; finely chop mushrooms.

2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large (12- to 14-inch) skillet over medium. Add onion and carrot; cook, stirring often, until carrot is tender, about 8 minutes. Add cremini mushrooms, celery, garlic, and chopped rehydrated morels; cook, stirring occasionally, until cremini mushrooms have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle mixture with pepper and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often and scraping bottom of skillet, until liquid has evaporated and vegetables start to caramelize, about 12 minutes. Add wine and thyme sprigs; stir to release browned bits from skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until wine has completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour reserved mushroom soaking liquid into skillet, leaving any sediment in bowl. Add broth to skillet; bring to a vigorous simmer over medium. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened and reduced to about 3 cups, 40 to 45 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs. Cover and keep warm over low until ready to use. 

3. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high. Add remaining 1/4 cup salt, and return to a boil. Add bucatini; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, 7 to 9 minutes, adding dandelion greens during last minute of cooking. Meanwhile, return ragù in skillet to a simmer over medium-high.

4. Using a spider or fine wire-mesh strainer, lift pasta and greens from cooking liquid, and add to ragù in skillet. Cook over medium-high, tossing to coat pasta with sauce. Add pasta cooking liquid as needed, 1/4 cup at time, until sauce is creamy and clings to pasta, about 4 minutes. Stir in mustard and remaining 1/4 cup butter until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in tarragon.

5. Divide pasta evenly among bowls; sprinkle with Parmesan. Garnish with tarragon leaves and additional pepper. Serve immediately.

Time Posted: Apr 10, 2021 at 8:45 PM
Fort Ross
April 10, 2021 | Fort Ross

Quick Skillet-Roasted Chicken with Spring Vegetables

Springtime 2021 selections

This Food & Wine recipe is best paired with our newly released 2018 Bicentennial Pinot Noir


4 (10-ounce) skin-on airline chicken breasts

1 ½ teaspoons s kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 small carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

8 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms, halved

6 small hakurei turnips or radishes, trimmed and quartered (about 1 cup)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided

6 rosemary and thyme sprigs, divided

2 spring onions, or 4 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

¼ cup (2 ounces) rosé wine

½ cup unsalted chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium. Cook chicken, skin side down, until skin is golden brown and crispy, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Reserve drippings in skillet.

2. Increase heat to high. Add carrots, mushrooms, turnips, 1 tablespoon butter, 3 herb sprigs, remaining1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes. Add onions and chicken, skin side up. Transfer skillet to preheated oven. Roast until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 160°F, 18 to 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, divide chicken and vegetables among 4 plates; reserve drippings in skillet.

3. Return skillet to heat over high. Add rosé and remaining 3 herb sprigs; cook, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Add stock, and bring to a simmer over high. Simmer until reduced by one-third, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons butter; season to taste with salt. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables.

Time Posted: Apr 10, 2021 at 8:00 PM
Fort Ross
April 1, 2021 | Fort Ross

Ricotta Fava Toasts

Springtime 2021 selections: Ricotta Fava Toasts

This Food & Wine recipe is best paired with our newly released 2018 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay



3 quarts water

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided, plus more to taste

1 pound unshelled fava beans or 1 cup frozen shelled favas or edamame

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

4 (1/2-inch-thick) rustic bread slices or pain au levain slices, cut from the center of the loaf

1 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon, plus whole tarragon leaves, for garnish

1/8 teaspoon black pepper


1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large stockpot over high. Stir in 2 tablespoons salt. Shell fava beans; add beans to boiling water. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer beans to a bowl filled with ice water; let stand 2 minutes. Drain well. If using shelled fresh beans, peel and discard skins from beans. Stir together peeled beans, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F). Brush bread slices evenly on both sides with remaining 1/3 cup oil. Place on unoiled grates; grill, uncovered, until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side.

3. Stir together ricotta, chopped tarragon, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; spread seasoned ricotta evenly on 1 side of each toast slice; top evenly with dressed favas. Cut toasts in half on an angle; arrange on a serving platter. Season with salt, and sprinkle with tarragon leaves.

Time Posted: Apr 1, 2021 at 7:30 PM
Fort Ross
February 3, 2021 | Fort Ross

Fort Ross Vineyard Featured in Sonoma Magazine

12 Sonoma Wineries to Visit Right Now

Sunny days are coming. Here's where to sip wine outdoors.

Make a reservation to visit our Estate Tasting Room on the wild Sonoma Coast this Valentine's Day.


Fort Ross Vineyard is featured in Sonoma Magazine's latest article: 12 Wineries to Visit Right Now. Join us this Valentine's Day at our Estate Tasting Room for a special opportunity to taste our 2015 Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Pinot Noir! This limited-production, 37 cases, sparkling wine is made from all estate-grown Pinot Noir in the traditional method, secondary fermentation in bottle. This adds toasty flavors of brioche and vanilla to the citrus and light berry fruit notes from the Pinot Noir. 

Tastings are available by reservation online or by calling us at (707) 847-3460.

FEATURED: Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery

The Fort Ross-Seaview AVA is one of Sonoma County’s smallest, with fewer than 600 planted acres, located on steep coastal ridges inland from the ocean with elevations ranging from 920 to 1,800 feet. These slopes produce some of the finest cool-climate grapes in the county, though Fort Ross winery owners Lester and Linda Schwartz were warned decades ago that great fruit would likely not flourish in such foggy conditions. Proving the naysayers wrong, they carved out 53 acres of vineyards planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and, in a nod to their South African roots, Pinotage.

The winery was closed for a time in August while a nearby wildfire was brought under control. “We were very fortunate and are immensely grateful for the firefighters who held the line and prevented the fire from reaching the property,” explains vice president Johanna Bernstein. The tasting room reopened as quickly as possible, offering samples of four estate-grown wines together with a pairing of charcuterie or artisanal cheeses, with house-made morsels that might include duck with dried sour-cherry terrine, local rabbit rillette, and marinated vegetables.

On Valentine’s Day weekend, along with the usual wine-and-food pairing expect a welcoming taste of the winery’s limited production Sea Stars Sparkling Blanc de Noir, made from estate-grown Pinot, as well as sweet treats to take home.

Read the full article»

Shop all wines»

Time Posted: Feb 3, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Fort Ross
January 14, 2021 | Fort Ross

Al's Oxtail

This hearty dish is a great comfort on fall & winter evenings. Pour a glass of Pinotage, and enjoy.



6lbs oxtail

1 large purple onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 cup dates, pitted & chopped

4 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried ginger

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp nutmeg


1. Brown oxtail thoroughly on high heat in olive oil. Salt well.

2. Sautée onion on low heat until soft. Add salt to this is well.

3. Add garlic to pan, then add herbs.

4. Add onion mix to the oxtail & cover with water.

5. Bring oxtail to a boil. Add dates & bell pepper.

6. Cook covered on low heat for 2 1/2 hours, or until meat falls off the bone.

7. Add salt & pepper to taste. 

Time Posted: Jan 14, 2021 at 10:49 AM
Fort Ross
November 6, 2020 | Fort Ross

Thanksgiving the Sonoma Coast Way

Thanksgiving dinner calls for a whole range of classic dishes, inspired by fall harvest. This year, we've found some modern twists on your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, as well as how to pair them with Fort Ross Vineyard wines.

1. Butternut Squash Tarte Tatin

Suggested pairing: 2017 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay

Photo & recipe curtesy of Bon Appétit

Roasted squash is a mainstay of the Thanksgiving spread. In this modern twist on the tarte tatin (usually made with apples), the rich creaminess of butternut squash is enhanced with a touch of sweetness, and cinnamon. With the final touches in the oven, it gains extra toastiness & spice. Similar flavors can all be found in our 2017 Mother of Pearl Chardonnay. Toasty oak and baking spice along with a round, creamy mouthfeel will meld harmoniously with this sweet-and-savory tart.

2. Red Wine Cranberry Sauce

Suggested pairing: 2017 Bicentennial Pinot Noir or 2014 Pinotage

Photo & recipe curtesy of the Washington Post

Add a little lift to this Thanksgiving-must by adding wine. We recommend using our 2017 Bicentennial Pinot Noir to boost the red fruit flavors, or our 2014 Pinotage to add more spice and enhance the citrus flavors. In either case, this is the ideal recipe for those who enjoy a glass or two while cooking - a splash in the sauce, and a bigger splash in the glass!

3. Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Chanterelles

Suggested pairing: 2017 Stagecoach Road Pinot Noir


Photo & recipe curtesty of Bon Appétit

With bacon and Chanterelle mushrooms stir fried in with the Brussels sprouts, this Thanksgiving side dish gets an extra layer of umami and richness. Our pick for this one is the 2017 Stagecoach Road Pinot Noir; with a fuller body and savory, earthy notes, it will pick up the umami notes in the mushrooms. Layers of spice and red fruit will add some freshness to the dish as well, encouraging the nuances of flavors to come through in the wine & the food.

4. Cider-Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon

Suggested pairing: 2014 Reserve Pinotage


Photo & recipe curtesy of Epicurious

No Thanksgiving centerpiece is complete without the turkey. This brining technique helps to flavor the interior meat, adding complex nuances in the form of spice, umami, and a lift of citrus. Our 2014 Reserve Pinotage displays earthy notes along with truffle and dried floral notes that will mingle with these spices. Good acidity plus pomegrante and citrus notes balance the wine, and highlight the brighter elements of this brine. 

These four ideas for modern twists on Thanksgiving dinner are delicious ways to try something new this year. Enjoy!

Time Posted: Nov 6, 2020 at 10:21 AM