A Day Tasting at Fort Ross AVA Wineries

  • Wine
  • by WC STAFF
  • on OCTOBER 18, 2015
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The unique Fort Ross-Seaview AVA is distinguished by a cool climate, steep mountains, and stunning Pacific Ocean views. The region, which is renowned for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, has five wineries as well as 18 commercial vineyards. Spend a day meandering through this beautiful coastal region to try Fort Ross wines, or visit a nearby region to taste wines made from grapes grown in Fort Ross.

Wine Tasting with Ocean Views

Image Source: Yelp

Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery
15725 Meyers Grade Road
Jenner, CA 95450
(707) 847-3460
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 21 reviews
Reservations: Not required
Directions: Location 8 miles north of Jenner off of Highway 1. Take Highway 1 North. Turn right onto Meyers Grade Road. The winery is on the right.

Linda and Lester Schwartz, South African natives, launched Fort Ross in 1991. The property is set atop steep mountain ridges, at elevations from 1,200 to 1,700 feet above sea level, in what is known as the “Extreme Sonoma Coast” region. The vineyard is only a mile from the Pacific Ocean, closer than any other California vineyard. The tasting room sits in a beautiful rustic wood design overlooking the property. Fort Ross makes a total of 5,000 cases per year, divided between Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotageóa tribute to the couple’s South African roots. The wines are priced at $32-$59 per bottle. Insider tip: Ask to taste the 2012 Symposium Pinot Noir.

A Modern Retreat

Image Source: TripAdvisor

Flowers Vineyards and Winery
28500 Seaview Road
Cazadero, CA 95421
TripAdvisor: 5 stars, 1 review
Reservations: Required
Directions: Turn right onto Meyers Grade Road. In 2.1 miles, continue onto Fort Ross Road. In half a mile, continue onto Seaview Road. The winery is on the right.

Nursery owners with a serendipitous name—Paul and Joan Flowers—founded Flowers Vineyards and Winery after responding to a classified ad for a plot of land in 1989. Known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, they also grow Pinot Meunier and Syrah. Focusing their attention on the terroir, Flowers Vineyards follows organic and biodynamic farming practices. Make an appointment to visit their airy, modern tasting room and spend some time relaxing on the covered porch. Insider tip: Ask to try the Sea View Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir, an estate wine grown at elevations of 1,400 to 1,875 feet.

Off the Beaten Path

Image Source: Wild Hog Vineyard

Wild Hog Vineyard
30904 Bohan Dillon Road
Cazadero, CA 95421
(707) 847-3687
Reservations: Required
Directions: Turn left onto Seaview Road and drive south for 1.4 miles. Continue onto Fort Ross Road. In 2.1 miles, turn left onto Bohan Dillon Road. The winery is on the right.

Located 45 minutes west of the town of Cazadero, Wild Hog Vineyard is situated high up in the hills of Fort Ross. Family owned and operated, they specialize in small-production red wines such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Syrah. While focusing on sustainable and organic farming, Wild Hog produces all estate-bottled wines in their solar and hydro-powered facility. Insider tip: Stop for lunch at nearby Raymond’s Bakery to try the homemade pizza (and order Wild Hog wine).

A Hidden Pinot Paradise

Image Source: Yelp

Hirsch Vineyards and Winery
45075 Bohan Dillon Road
Cazadero, CA 95421
(707) 847-3600
Reservations: Required
Directions: Turn right onto Bohan Dillon Road. Drive North for 5 miles. The winery is on the left.

Located three miles from the Pacific Ocean, Hirsch Vineyards offers stunning views of both redwood trees and the rugged coastline alike. Known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Hirsch has been in the process of converting their vineyards to biodynamic farming practices over the past several years. Although they are closed to the public, they do schedule a limited number of private tours by appointment only, offering priority to members of their mailing list. Allow plenty of time for the long drive up a one-lane road. Insider tip: After your visit, take a picnic to nearby Fort Ross State Historic Park.

Fort Ross Wines to Seek Out

Spending your day tasting in a different region? Luckily, there are some great options for tasting Fort Ross wines throughout Napa and Sonoma Valley. Be sure to seek out the Fort Ross wines when visiting these must-see wineries.

An Inviting Lodge

Image Source: Yelp

Failla Wines
3530 Silverado Trail North
St. Helena, CA 94574
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 6 reviews
Reservations: Required

Failla Wines, which currently grows on 14 acres of estate vineyards in Cazadero, offers by-appointment tasting experiences at their Napa Valley winery in Saint Helena. Enjoy the cozy atmosphere of their rustic Tasting Lodge set in a 1930s farmhouse. Taste through Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah in the Lodge’s living room or take a walking tour of the property. Insider tip: One advantage to visiting the winery, is that the tour comes with a bit of winemaking education. Learn about their concrete egg fermentation, a process that results in softer, more complex wines, such as their Chuy Vineyard Chardonnay.

Modern Fun

Image Source: Yelp

Red Car Wine
8400 Graton Road
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 829-8500
TripAdvisor: 3.5 stars, 3 reviews
Reservations: Not required

Visit Red Car Wine’s tasting room in Sebastopol to try wines grown on their estate vineyard in Fort Ross. Enjoy tasting through Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah in their modern tasting room with a cool, eclectic vibe. Insider tip: Ask to try their Rosé—if it’s not already sold out!

Hand-crafted Wines from the Hilltop

Image Source: Peay Vineyards

Peay Vineyards
227 Treadway Drive
Cloverdale, CA 95425
Reservations: Required

Peay Vineyards is a family affair. The winery is owned and operated by the Peay brothers, Nick and Andy, along with winemaker Vanessa Wong, Nick’s wife. Although they produce the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that the region is known for, Peay Vineyards also produces Syrah, Viognier, and a popular small-production Roussane/Marsanne blend. Insider tip: Inquire about their exclusive wine dinners held throughout the Bay Area.

Ready to see what the rugged, rough, coastal terrain of Fort Ross has to offer? Start by exploring one of the wineries in this exciting, new appellation.