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.
94 Points - Wine Advocate
The 2017 Pinot Noir Estate Stagecoach Road has slowly opening aromas of roasted cranberries and blackberries accented by potpourri, Earl Grey tea leaves, dusty earth, woodsmoke and cola. The palate is medium-bodied, silky and nuanced with loads of spicy, bitters-like accents and great freshness, finishing long and layered.
93 Points - Wine Enthusiast
From a selection of Calera grapes grown on the extreme coast, this wine offers spice, wax and edgy acidity. Pomegranate, tangerine, cherry and mint flavors follow along a structured, complex and lengthy palate of balanced tannin and oak, finishing in lasting earthiness. —Virginie Boone
92 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
Another classic example of the vintage, the 2017 Pinot Noir Stagecoach Road has loads of spiced red and black fruits, bouquet garni, toasted nuts, and a touch of seaside-like salinity to go with a medium-bodied, round, elegant style on the palate. With ripe tannins, good overall balance, and a great finish, it should be impressive for 7-8 years.
Stagecoach Road Pinot Noir grapes are grown in the vineyard blocks closest to the ocean with
some of the darkest soils on the estate and is always our boldest Pinot Noir. This deep ruby-colored cuvée exudes aromas of black raspberry, cassis, and plum with warm earth and savory notes. The palate is succulent with layers of black current, boysenberry, and cherry with beetroot, cocoa, and spice. The integrated, well-structured tannins carry throughout the long, polished finish that is enlivened with acidity. This wine is drinking beautifully now and will cellar for years to come.
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.
Bottled August 2018, Unfined and Unfiltered
The grapes for this Pinot Noir were handpicked during the cool hours of the night in 2-gallon trays.
After hand sorting, the fruit was cold-soaked for several days and fermented in a combination of 5 and 10-ton tanks. The caps were punched down 1 or 2 times per day, depending on the stage of the fermentation. The wines were then barreled in a combination of 50% new and 50% neutral French oak. Throughout the 10 months of barrel aging, the clones and different vineyard blocks were kept separate to maintain their distinct flavor profiles and structural components as blending elements. These grapes are sourced from specific blocks where the old stagecoach road used to run through our vineyard and where Black Bart the famous “Gentleman Bandit” Highwayman robbed the Wells Fargo Stagecoach in 1877.
WINEMAKER: Jeff Pisoni • CLONAL SELECTION: Calera