Fort Ross Vineyards has the distinction of being the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean and they were one of the proponents that helped create the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA and it was achieved in 2012. In 1988 Lester and Linda Schwartz purchased virgin forest and grasslands in the high coastal ridges of the Sonoma Coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Even though they were told that the area was not wine country, they persevered and began experimenting with different clones and trellis systems and irrigation systems. In 1994 they laid out by hand fifty-three acres of small blocks or parcels of land according to their studies and research. Around 2000 they began producing their first wines and in 2012 they hired Jeff Pisoni as their winemaker. This was the real reason that I went to Fine Wine Source to taste these wines.
The first wine that we tasted was the Fort Ross Sea Slopes Chardonnay 2016 and like all of their wines at the tasting they were all Estate Grown. With the unique layout of the vineyard and the small blocks or parcels that may have different varietals growing in the adjacent parcel, almost all of the harvesting is done by hand. This wine spent fifteen months aging in a mix of Stainless Steel and French Oak (of which twenty percent was new). The color of the wine was what I would call a classic Chardonnay yellow, and I could detect minerals in the nose and in the taste, which was very crisp and refreshing. There was just over twenty-five-hundred case made of this wine.
The other wine of this collection was the Fort Ross Sea Slopes Pinot Noir 2014. The two wines in the Sea Slopes collection showed a determined leaning towards the Burgundy region and that is fine with me. This wine was aged for nine months in French Oak, of which ten percent was new and the wine was produced unfined and unfiltered. I found the wine to have a softer color and nose, but maybe I expect more from Pinot Noir, I did notice some Pomegranate during the tasting. There were still two more wines to try from the winery.