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Walnut Creek Magazine

Beat the Heat with a Day Trip to Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery

Aug 14, 2020 09:49AM ● By Fran Miller


Sonoma County’s Fort Ross-Seaview AVA is remote, steep, and mountainous, and its Pacific Ocean proximity provides the perfect antidote for Walnut Creek’s blistering heat. Some of the finest producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have vineyards here, including Flowers, Wayfare, and Martinelli. But Fort Ross Vineyard, California’s westernmost vineyard, located in Jenner, is the only winery within the AVA with a tasting room. About a two-hour drive from the East Bay, getting there is a thrilling journey and includes a 2.6-mile climb up the spectacular Meyers Grade Road off of Pacific Coast Highway 1 near Jenner, at the mouth of the Russian River. 


Winding through high meadows, oak trees, and thick redwood forests, the road rises up out of the ever-present fog and into sunshine, giving the sensation of floating above the clouds. The reward is Fort Ross Vineyards’ beautifully appointed, open, airy tasting deck, set amongst gardens filled with swaying grasses, heirloom roses, native plants and trees, and South African proteas. (Owners Lester and Linda Schwartz hail from the ‘Rainbow Nation.’)

Open by appointment only, and in compliance with CDC and government guidelines, Fort Ross Vineyard provides outdoor tasting experiences allowing guests to sample their estate grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage. Tastings include a selection of four wines accompanied by locally-sourced, traditional charcuterie or artisanal cheese and vegetarian selections prepared in the on-site kitchen. Charcuterie is served with relishes and accompaniments in individual, biodegradable containers.


Seating is outside on the deck overlooking the Sonoma coast, and all tables are separated by at least six feet. The staff is required to wear face coverings at all times and practice meticulous hand hygiene. In addition, guests are required to wear face coverings, except when seated at their table for the tastings. Tables and chairs are disinfected after each use, and the higher-use public areas are regularly cleaned.

The 90-minute tastings are offered Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 10am and 3pm. The cost is $45 per person ($20 for members). Reservations can be made online at or by email at [email protected] or by calling 707-847-3460. The address is 15725 Meyers Grade Road, Jenner, CA 95450. 

Photos courtesy of Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery





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