Fort Ross Vineyard & Tasting Room 15725 Meyers Grade Rd., 7 ½ miles north of town, (707) 847-3460. Daily Mar-Dec 10-6; Thur-M Jan- Feb 11-5.
To get to the tasting room for this winery, which has the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean in California, you’ll need to drive 2.6 miles up the hill on Meyers Grade Road. When you enter the gates, the road becomes packed-dirt and leads past Pinot Noir grapevines, a redwood forest, and a pond—giving you a quick tour of the terroir of the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. Owner Linda Schwartz says she “did a dance of happiness” when this AVA became one of the country’s newest on January 13, 2012. The AVA is unique in its proximity to the ocean, and at 900- to 1,800-feet-high it is usually floating above a sea of clouds.
So far, it remains the first and only vineyard tasting room along the Sonoma Coast. It is a surprise way out here to find the sleek contemporary tasting room, softened a bit with heirloom climbing roses and tall grasses in the tamed entrance garden. The tasting room and deck with picnic tables share a beautiful pastoral view. I enjoyed tasting a smooth, fruity, but also buttery 2012 Chardonnay followed by three very nice Pinot Noirs and then an inky-colored Pinotage--a tasty, rarely-seen-here varietal from South Africa. All grapes are grown on the winery’s estate, and processing is done in Santa Rosa. A charceuterie/cheese plate can be purchased to enhance your tasting or to enjoy outside on the picnic deck.
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image courtesy of venue