Fort Ross Vineyard was selected to produce a special Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to commemorate the 1812 – 2012 Bicentennial of the old Russian Settlement of Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast. This was the site of the first grape plantings in all of Sonoma County and even foreshadowed the plantings in Napa County. The winery was given permission from the Kunstkamera of the St. Peter the Great Museum in St. Petersburg to use the painting of the old fort done in 1841 by the famous naturalist, Il'ya Vosnesenky.
We have not produced a Bicentennial Chradonnay since 2014 but the dynamic 2017 vintage inspired us to bring it back. This 2017 Bicentennial Chardonnay entices with perfumed aromatics of fragrant white flowers, chamomile and apricot framed by flinty wet stone. The layers of key lime, lemon curd and autumnal pear evolve slowly on the palate, which is extended by mouthwatering acidity and the Fort Ross Vineyard cool coastal minerality. Bottling unfined and unfiltered contributes to the seamless texture and long, vibrant finish.
The 2017 growing season welcomed generous rainfall for the first several months of the year. After five drought years the soils were hydrated and our irrigation pond was brimming. Bud-break occurred in mid-March followed by a warmer than usual spring which brought an early fruit-set, fortunately, by then the rains had subsided. The summer enjoyed mild to average, 80-85° temperatures, allowing the grapes to develop ideal complexity and flavors with optimal development. During the first week of September, all of California experienced a heat spike, with this the first few blocks were harvested. Temperatures then mellowed during the remainder of harvest, allowing each variety to be picked at the ideal time. Pinot Noir was unhurriedly harvested between August 31–September 19, one of the many advantages of growing grapes overlooking the cool Pacific Ocean. Chardonnay was picked September 10–14 and finally the slower ripening Pinotage on October 3rd. Fortunately, all of our fruit was picked prior to the heartbreaking 2017 Sonoma fires. The vintage brought in lower yields, producing wines with great depth and concentration, while the hydrated soils delivered vibrant aromatics and acidity.
The grapes were handpicked during the cool hours of the night in small two-gallon picking trays then hand sorted in the vineyard and gently whole cluster pressed at the winery. After pressing, the juice was put into barrels and underwent primary and malolactic fermentation in 100% neutral French oak. This discrete use of oak allowed the fruit to shine. This wine is comprised of small berried old Hyde field selection chosen for its richness and sleek structure. This heritage field selection has full, complex flavors that are intensified by the small size of both the bunches and the berries.