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.
92 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
The 2021 Pinot Noir Top Of Land Fort Ross Vineyard pours a deep, youthful ruby hue, with elegant layers of aromatics coming together, including baking spice, ripe cherry, and pine. Medium-bodied, it has a taut feel on the palate, with fresh orange peel, pomegranate seed, crunchy red fruits, and dusty earth, with ripe tannins. It’s coiled at the moment but feels more complete than the Terraces cuvée. Drink it over the next several years.
The Pinot Noir grapes for this limited production cuvée are sourced from several of the lowest yielding blocks located at the highest elevations of the Fort RossVineyard.This deep garnet hued wine shows great beauty and true purity of Pinot Noir fruit. Captivating aromas of dark raspberries, black plum, violets and dried rose petals waft from the glass. Lush layers of mulberry, black currant and Bing cherry are supported by soft feminine tannins.The Fort RossVineyard signature minerality and fresh acidity integrates seamlessly with the complex fruit characteristics throughout the seamless finish.
Like the rest of Sonoma County, we experienced lower than average rainfall totals signaling the start of another drier than average vintage.These parched soils came with a silver lining, as the roots of our vines were forced to dig deep into the earth in search of water and nutrients to sustain growth—which also brought great concentration of flavor. The early March Budbreak was followed by slow, steady canopy development and fruit set. Many passes through our rows by our dedicated vineyard team was needed to balance fruit and vine growth, but less canopy work was required due to the low vigor of the vines. Moderate temperatures, between 80-85°, persisted throughout the summer with no heatwaves. Harvest arrived on under the protection of near perfect conditions, allowing for methodical night hand picking at the ideal phenological ripeness.The 3-week harvest began with our Pinot Noir blocks from August 30th - September 6th, Chardonnay form September 9th – 11th, and our first harvest of Chenin Blanc on September 13th, lastly our signature, slower ripening Pinotage on September 17th. The wines produced from this noteworthy vintage will be regarded for their intense concentration of color and flavor, as well as an undeniable density that will continue to evolve for years to come.
Bottled Unfined & Unfiltered, Clones: Pommard & Swan
The grapes for this Pinot Noir come from the blocks that are planted at the highest elevations in the vineyard.They are 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 14 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.