After ten long years of planning and struggles, the vineyards and wineries that occupy the mountainous terrain in the most Westerly region of the Sonoma Coast AVA (American Viticulture Area) have finally gotten their recognition. In mid January 2012 the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA became its own island within the vast sprawl of the Sonoma Coast AVA. For years growers and producers in this area have been using terms like “true Sonoma Coast” and “extreme Sonoma Coast” in an effort to differentiate themselves in an appellation that stretches from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the San Pablo Bay and a few miles from the Napa County line.
The two defining factors of this new AVA are proximity to the Pacific Ocean and elevation. Almost all of the vineyards within the area lie between 900 – 1800 feet above sea level. This is key since it puts them above the fog line allowing the grapes to benefit from more hours of sunlight throughout the day while still enjoying the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. While a prevalence of particular soil types are sometimes used in defining appellations, such is not the case for Fort Ross-Seaview. Millions of years of interaction between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates have created a patchwork of soil types that tend to vary, even within a single vineyard. This will certainly add to the intrigue as wine lovers become more familiar with Sonoma’s newest AVA.
Beltramo’s has long been enthusiastic about this unique region; not only for the terrain and climate but for the passionate individuals who have made the commitment to farm this land. So much so that for the last four years we’ve partnered with Hirsch Vineyards to produce a $34.99 proprietary blend of Pinot Noir that is unique to our store. Here are a few other wines that exemplify what can be achieved it this exciting area.
Flowers ‘Sonoma Coast’ Chardonnay 2009 ($36.99) - “Pale straw color. Pretty aromas of lime blossom, meringue and lemon zest are mirrored on the palate and underscored with subtle notes of fresh cut fennel, lemon thyme, and crisp comice pear. With a bright and refreshing acidity, this Chardonnay finishes with a mouthwatering minerality that is typical of the extreme Sonoma Coast. Delicious now, or cellar through 2014.” Flowers Winery
Peay ‘Estate’ Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2009 ($54.99) - 92 Points, The Wine Advocate: “The 2009 Chardonnay Estate is a vivid, multi-dimensional wine that captures the essence of the Peay style. Lemon, pear, butter, pastry and spices are nicely supported by underlying veins of minerality that give the wine its freshness and verve. The textural finesse of the finish alone is striking. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2016.” Antonio Galloni
Fort Ross ‘Symposium’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009 ($26.99) - “Vivid aromas of dark fruit with tiers of dusty cedar and black tea notes introduce this firm, focused, intense Pinot Noir. The 3% of Pinotage adds layers of sandalwood and earthy bramble to the concentrated core of dark berry, wild berry and black plum. There is purity to the finish where the vineyard’s signature minerality and acidity accompany the expansive fruit with great finesse.” Fort Ross Winery
Hirsch Vineyards ‘San Andreas Fault’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009 ($59.99) - “Upon opening, Bing cherry, raspberries, figs and cola on the nose, with floral notes of lavender and orange blossom. Evolving with air to show forest floor, licorice and bergamot. On the palate, bright red fruit and a brambly juiciness are supported by profound tannins and an exceptional acidity.” Hirsch Vineyards
Peay ‘Pomarium’ Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2010 ($54.99) - “In the 2010, beautiful aromas of orange rind and red fruits are framed by tea, deep forest, and mushroom notes. The flavors in the mouth are similar though a brass and deep, tart, cherry note combine with the earthy, dried pine needle aromas. This is an incredibly well-balanced and appealing wine with low alcohol and focused fruit. The finish is clean and long. Really a superb wine. Age for 3-9+ years.” Peay Winery
Mike Janeway, Beltramo’s Domestic Wine Buyer