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Wine Spotlight: 2017 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir


Greetings from Russian River Valley! We are pleased to share this highly acclaimed single vineyard Pinot Noir release from the Fort Ross Vineyard on our beautiful Sonoma Coast. Perched above the Pacific Ocean in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, this vineyard is an incredible expression of maritime influence teamed up with classic Sonoma County sunshine. 

The Wine

Harvest began on August 21st, the day of the total eclipse, 11 days later than the year before, so hang-time was in keeping with historical averages, but it commenced in a flash. Seven percent of grapes came in the first week, followed by 53% the second week during a severe heat wave. The remainder of harvest after Labor Day seemed to steady a bit as the weather cooled down slightly. The final fruit of the season came in on the last day of summer and the last day of sorting was September 22nd. We find it curious that we started on the day of the total eclipse and wrapped up with our last day of sorting on the Autumn Equinox. Planning ahead and pre-scheduling picks before the heat wave, in addition to overnight refrigeration and overall team efficiency smoothed over a lot of this rapid harvest’s bumps. Thanks to our grower partners and our own hard work, the flavor and ripeness of the wines is excellent. To our pleasant surprise, ~95% of the grapes came in on target, between 22-24.5 Brix, which is miraculous given the extreme conditions. This is definitely an indication of our overwhelming dedication to quality, but it is also a great reward for the hard work and long hours that went into making the 2017 vintage wines.

Tasting Notes

Savory earth tones permeate from the glass at first swirl. Aromas of eucalyptus, mint, black olives, and green tea invite further exploration. An essence of dried strawberries and figs leads the way to a collection of wild raspberries and cherry jam. The palate is delightfully pure and vibrant, with an exceptional array of textures and complex flavors that are a hallmark of Sonoma Coast fruit.

Accolades

  • 95 Points | Wine Spectator, October 2020
  • 94 Points | Wine Enthusiast, June 2020

The Vineyard

Fort Ross Vineyard is located on a very cool, coastal ridge ~1200-1700 feet above sea level within the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, 80 miles northwest of San Francisco. The vineyard sits less than a mile inland from the Pacific Ocean and is recognized as one of the closest vineyards to the California coastline. The ocean fog at this elevation is less intrusive than in lower lying coastal vineyards, rolling in to cover the vines at night but then receding with the morning sunrise. The coastal tempering effect prevents extreme temperature swings; in fact, the lows rarely dip below fog temperature of ~55°F and rarely get above 85°F on hot, sunny days. With its rugged coastal terrain, marine sedimentary soils, long sunny days and gentle sea breezes, these coastal ridges have become one of the most highly regarded growing regions in all of California. Of the roughly 32 small vineyard blocks, we receive Pinot Noir from two amazing sections, including clone 777 and Calera selection.

The AVA

Located in the coastal hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Fort Ross-Seaview was carved out of the larger Sonoma Coast AVA with special consideration to elevation. The remote and rugged region rises above the fogline yielding a climate that is drier, sunnier and warmer that most. Despite the warmer than expected climate, the undeniable maritime influence for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Intro to Gary Farrell Winery

Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery is a 38-year pioneer of cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. Winemaker Theresa Heredia joined us in 2012, carrying on our legacy of crafting Burgundian-styled, varietally expressive small-lot artisan wines capturing the balance and stylistic elegance of some of the finest vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA and beyond; including Rochioli, Allen, Bacigalupi, Hallberg, Ritchie, Olivet Lane, Durell, Gap’s Crown, Fort Ross and Bien Nacido. Theresa works closely with our growers to showcase the exceptional fruit from their vineyards in each of her wines.

Russian River Valley Vineyards

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