More than 30 years ago, South African couple Lester and Linda Schwartz broke ground on Fort Ross vineyard, despite being warned that planting so close to the ocean was a risky move. Thanks to their tenacity and sourcing exceptional heritage clones that would thrive in this rugged terroir, we can now enjoy award-winning Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Pinotage (a grape from South Africa that’s rarely grown in the U.S.) at the winery’s industrial-chic tasting barn surrounded by Madrone trees and vineyard expanses with stunning views of the Pacific.
Reserve your spot for the winery’s tasting experience (Fort Ross is open Friday through Tuesday by appointment only), where estate chef John Vong cooks up elegant small bites to complement four of Fort Ross’s superb estate-grown wines. While you sip, savor and soak in the views, take notice of the large metal sculptures on the grounds, which Lester designed and built himself.
What to Do in Fort Ross-Seaview (Other Than Sip Wine)
The stretch of Highway 1 from Bodega Bay to Jenner offers lots of opportunities to pull over and admire the rugged coastline, and Pinnacle Gulch Trail is one of them. Known mostly to locals, this short, half-mile downhill out-and-back hike puts you right out onto a small, quiet beach. On the way, admire colorful wildflower blooms in springtime—the California poppies, sticky monkeyflower, red paintbrush, blue iris and more are really going off right now. Bodega Head Trail is another favorite, promising panoramic ocean views and picnic tables where you can nosh on a yummy crab roll (see below) that you’ll grab on the way. The relatively flat 2.8-mile roundtrip trail loops around the headlands and climbs gently to an overlook with dazzling ocean views, wildflower displays, and if you’re lucky, a glimpse of migrating whales (don’t forget the binoculars!).