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.
91 Points - Wine Enthusiast
A rare find anywhere in California, let alone the coast, this cross-breed of Cinsault and Pinot Noir shows earthy notes of tree bark and cedar. The elegant frame of soft, integrated tannin allows room for layers of black tea, berry pie and cardamom to take hold and find a seamless core of flavor. - Virginie Boone. August 2021.
90 Points - Wine Advocate
The 2016 Pinotage Fort Ross Vineyard is medium ruby-purple in color with a broody nose of tar, earth and bay leaves with baked black berries and cherries and meaty hints. Medium to full-bodied, it's dark-fruited in the mouth with savory and earthy accents, framed by firm, chewy tannins and lifted by good freshness, finishing long and earthy.
17 Off-The-Beaten-Path California Reds - Food & Wine Magazine
Lester and Linda Schwartz planted a vineyard in the early 1990s on a ridge about a mile from the ocean in Fort Ross, north of Jenner, California—the extreme Sonoma Coast. Eventually, they helped define and create the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. Known for their vivid, electric, ocean-spray-kissed Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, they also planted some Pinotage—a grape typical to South Africa—as an homage to their days at the University of Cape Town. There are just over 50 acres of Pinotage planted in the entire state, and this particular one is made in minuscule quantities…less than 10 barrels. It's sumptuously earthy, boasting silky dark cherries, blackberries, and firm, grippy tannins, with lavish baking spices rounding it all out.
★★★★ Restaurant Wine, Ronn Wiegand MS/MW
This 2016 is an aromatic, intensely flavored wine with exotic raspberry, plum jam, black tea, red licorice, guava, and spicy oak flavors, good balance, and a long finish. Drinks well now, but can age further.
Best Alternative Red 2022 - Tom Simoneau, Napa Valley Register
Not familiar with Pinotage? Welcome to the club. It was first developed in South Africa in 1925 by crossing Pinot Noir with Cinsault, which was called Hermitage at the time. Don’t guess this is Pinot-like; it’s more Rhône than Burgundy. Big and bold, savory and spicy, smoky and brambly. Our sensory system exists to be stimulated and this wine will do the trick. By far the most interesting wine I’ve tasted all year.