Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Chardonnay

My first sip of Frank Family Vineyards actually happened at a local restaurant, Scott’s Seafood. By that time I’d heard so much about the iconic Napa winery, but had never actually tasted anything from them. So I was delighted to see their Chardonnay on the menu, the perfect accompaniment to my seafood dinner. That was over a year ago already, and I still remember how much I enjoyed that wine. So here’s a peek at what the latest vintage has to offer…

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Fort Ross Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir Symposium

With the exception of sparkling wine producers, wineries that focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay rarely play the blending game. But with Fort Ross Vineyard, there’s a not-so-secret third varietal that winemaker Jeff Pisoni gets to play with: Pinotage. While this ‘Symposium’ wine is labeled a Pinot Noir, there’s a little something extra blended in, giving the traditionally light, silky varietal, a hearty backbone and intense texture.

Spoiler Alert: The secret ingredient is Pinotage…

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Fort Ross Vineyard 2012 Pinotage

Pinotage was developed in South Africa in 1925 by¬†Abraham Izak Perold who was attempting to combine the best of two varieties: Pinot Noir and what was then referred to as Hermitage (today’s Cinsault). Since that time the clonal creation has become somewhat of South Africa’s “heritage grape,” if you will. It’s with that sentiment that South African natives and owners of Fort Ross Vineyard, Linda and Lester Schwartz sourced Pinotage bud wood from the original founding blocks of their native homeland shortly after establishing their Sonoma Coast vineyard estate. They are, in fact, the first private growers to import such cuttings and, eventually, sell commercially. Their estate Pinotage consists of two Fort Ross proprietary clones, MM1 and MM3, developed at UC Davis from that originally imported budwood.

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Fort Ross Vineyard 2015 Stagecoach Ranch Pinot Noir

I love the name of this wine. The blocks where the Pinot Noir grapes are harvested for this wine are called Stagecoach Road because the vineyard is located along, you guessed it, Stagecoach Road. But the amusing part of this anecdote is that the road is so-named because it is the very same Black Bart used when he robbed the Wells Fargo Stagecoach in 1877. The¬†interesting thing about this vineyard is that it sits in a bit of a pocket on the estate, so the Pacific Coast fog tends to sink right in, lengthening the ripening period and creating some deep, brooding flavors in the grapes and, thus, the wines. With that in mind, I think they should change the name to Black Bart’s Pinot Noir. Just a gentle suggestion…

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Hotel Review: Timber Cove Resort

Practically hanging off the cliffs of the most northern portion of Sonoma Coast is the quaint but luxurious seaside resort Timber Cove. Founded and constructed by San Francisco native and world-renowned architect, Richard Clements Jr., the original building was built in 1963 as a nod to the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, combining modernism with naturalism — an exaggerated A-frame structure utilizing the surrounding redwoods and stones.

Since that time, the resort has had a few different owners, renovations, and expansions. This past year, Timber Cove’s latest reconstruction takes visitors back to that simpler sixties style — with no shortage of modern amenities. Indeed, with more rooms (and larger rooms), activities, and not to mention the excellent on-site restaurant, guests can experience a full-on retreat from the hustle and bustle of the traditional wine country setting. With roads that twist and turn along Sonoma’s Coast, visitors can and will find hidden gems — from roadside farm stands to boutique wineries; scenic surf spots to backroad hiking trails. Timber Cove is truly a seaside escape.

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