Thomas Fogarty Winery is one of the Santa Cruz Mountains' most respected and historic producers. Winery founders Dr. Thomas Fogarty and Michael Martella collaborated to create what was to become one of the most notable and celebrated estate wine producers in California.
The winery dates back to the 1970's, when Dr. Fogarty, a Stanford cardiovascular surgeon and world-renowned inventor of medical devices, was introduced to Martella, a fourth generation grape grower in California. Together, Dr. Fogarty and Martella began removing the brush in 1977 to plant what are now the Estate vineyards. Over the next four years, and with guidance from some of the pioneers of the appellation, the two men supervised the planting of the six core vineyards of the Fogarty Estate.
Before launching the winery, Dr. Fogarty had fallen in love with the wines of Burgundy and sought out cooler, mountainous, ocean-influenced vineyards that had already proven a good home for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at wineries such as Mt Eden. The Fogarty winery property, located directly west of Palo Alto and Stanford University, sits on Skyline Boulevard, at a 2000 foot elevation. The long, cool growing season and excellent sun exposure provide an ideal climate for these Burgundian grape varieties.
The Winery Estate includes eight micro-vineyard blocks covering 25 acres of ridge top and steep, southeast and east-facing hillsides on the property. The vineyards include: Windy Hill (2.5 acres of Pinot Noir, 1970 feet above sea level), Razorback (2 acres of Pinot Noir, 1400 feet), Damiana (3.5 acres of Chardonnay, 1890 feet), Portola Springs (2 acres of Chardonnay, 1920 feet), Albutom (0.25 acres of Chardonnay, 1930 feet), Langley Hill (5.25 acres of Chardonnay, 1925 feet) and Rapley Trail (5.5 acres of Pinot Noir, 1650 feet). These parcels combine to create the Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as a few tiny production, single-vineyard wines that are produced in 25 to 100 case lots.
In 1999, the Fogarty Estate planted Gist Ranch Estate, a 100-acre parcel located 17 miles south of the winery and 14.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean, which forms the base for the wines under the Lexington label. The property features 14 acres of grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Nebbiolo. Gist Ranch sits atop a ridge at 2300 feet above sea level and, while a bit warmer than the Winery Estate, is a relatively cool climate for Bordeaux varietals and is influenced by the Pacific Ocean to the west. The long growing season produces nuanced and complex Bordeaux-styled wines in both blended and single-varietal versions.
Today, in continued collaboration with the founders, the 100% solar-powered winery is under the guidance of the second generation, Tommy Fogarty Jr and winemaker Nathan Kandler. Given the mountainous terrain, the work in the vineyards is labor intensive. Organic farming practices are used throughout the properties, which includes cover cropping and adding compost tea to the soils. Harvest, of course, is done by hand with extensive sorting in the vineyard at the picking. Fermentations (both primary and secondary) occur with indigenous yeasts on all the wines, and use of oak is extremely moderate, with no more than 25-30% new wood. The Pinot Noirs are fermented in small lots (.5-3 tons), with 25-33% whole cluster fermented. All the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the most exciting, interesting and undiscovered wine regions in California. Antonio Galloni calls it “California’s best kept secret [and] home to some of the world’s greatest vineyards and wines”. We couldn’t agree more. The region shares the cool climate, large diurnal shift qualities as some other coastal regions like the west Sonoma Coast and Santa Rita Hills. It is also geologically diverse compared to these other regions, producing soil-driven wines that are more restrained and savory than most California wines – even so-called “cool-climate” wines - with layers of complexity, energy and focus. Thomas Fogarty Winery epitomizes the greatness of the Santa Cruz Mountains terroir.