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Gold Medal Wine Club
5330 Debbie Road, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93111
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Fog Crest Vineyards - Russian River Valley

93 Pts Wine Enthusiasts magazine - Gold Medal Winner

James Manoogian is not the first former restaurateur that opted out of the restaurant world for the lure of the wine industry. In fact, the move was precipitated by the fact that Manoogian sought to be part of the viticultural aspect of the wine business, a side that offered him a great deal of personal satisfaction. Manoogian (Man-ou-gee-an) is of Armenian descent, and originally from Ypsilanti, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in political science but, in 1989, he opened a restaurant in San Francisco called Limbo. The restaurant proved successful, but after a number of years, Manoogian found himself becoming more interested in the wine industry than the demanding 24/7 frenzy that was the restaurant business. He was also interested in starting a family and decided the restaurant environment wasn’t the best possible setting for that to happen.

In 1994 to 1995, Manoogian and his wife Rosalind began looking for property in the Sonoma County region where his mother and sister already resided. “We wanted a parcel of land that we could really develop into something,” he recalled. “It had to be big enough to meet our needs and also within our price range.” Eventually, the couple stumbled across a beautiful former apple orchard on thirty acres north of the town of Sebastopol that was only 3 to 4 miles south of the Russian River. After purchasing the property, the Manoogians planted the acreage and went about the process of producing first class grapes.

“We wanted to push the envelope with regard to our grapes,” added Manoogian. “We started selling to a top local winery (Stryker Sonoma) and were initially pleased with the results. When it became apparent that they were heading toward a red-wine oriented winery, we decided to go into business for ourselves.” Fog Crest Vineyard became a reality with the release of almost a thousand cases in 2005. Fog Crest has increased production slightly but is still under the 2,500 case level its permit allows.

“We have always worked under the philosophy that we make sure everything we do is the very best it can be,” admitted James Manoogian. “We have tried to not make any mistakes. We feel it is a great luxury to be able to pick the grapes and only have to move them 100 yards for processing.” He also was extremely pleased that Fog Crest Vineyard’s wines have been
received so well. “When we started all this, I really didn’t know all that much about winemaking so I went out and hired some people who did. I can’t tell you how happy I am with our winemaker Daniel Moore and our consulting winemaker David Ramey. They bought into our quality expectations and took it from there. I had the comfort of sitting back and letting it all happen.”

Fog Crest Vineyard has recently completed a new winery facility that will allow it to produce estate wines for as long as the Manoogians wish. The fact that the company’s early releases have been so heralded simply means that Fog Crest will continue to work even harder to excel in the competitive wine industry. “We are not in a position to make many mistakes,” he informed. “The business is just too competitive. We are delighted that we have been able to carve out a small niche and develop a small base of loyal customers.” Fog Crest also intends to construct a hospitality segment as part of its operation that will make use of its marvelous location on the Wilson Grove section of Sonoma County. Completion date on the new hospitality wing isn’t until later this year, when enough positive cash flow should be available from the small winery.

“The ground around here is mostly sandstone,” remarked Manoogian, “and perfectly suited to the type of grapes we want to grow. When you add the natural beauty of all the surroundings, Fog Crest becomes something really special.”

It is refreshing to find a winery owner so perfectly in tune to his surroundings and place in the business world. James Manoogian admits that the vineyards are his favorite part of the equation. While he enjoys drinking his wines (as well as the wines of others), he prefers to be “among the plants” when it comes to day-to-day activity. James’ wife Rosalind has also become active in the Fog Crest Vineyard program and now handles all the website updating as well as assisting in the sales and marketing efforts.

  1. Fog Crest
    2008 Pinot Noir
    Fog Crest
    Russian River Valley


    93 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 738
    Pinot Noir

Winemaker Daniel Moore - Great person, great wines!

Fog Crest Vineyard’s esteemed winemaker Daniel Moore has made wine for nearly three decades in Sonoma County. Moore was an early champion of the Russian and his wines have been served in many of the finest restaurants in the United States.

Prior to his work at Fog Crest Vineyard, Moore was the founding winemaker at one of the most recognized entities in the wine business - Martinelli Vineyards - where he produced the company’s first eight vintages. He was also the inaugural winemaker for the prestigious Lynmar Estate, and went on to create his own label, ZMor, for which he still produces an elite flight of small production wines.

At Fog Crest Vineyard, Daniel Moore works alongside consulting winemaker David Ramey, and their benchmark style Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are continuously recognized with awards and accolades. Moore was also responsible for the design of the Fog Crest production facility, which has further enhanced his ability to create stunning Burgundian-style wines. Moore has served as the brand’s chief winemaker since its inception in 2005.

About The Region

The Fog Crest 2008 Laguna West Vineyard Pinot Noir comes from three sustainably farmed vineyards west of the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the Russian River Valley. This incredible Pinot Noir received strong 93 points from the Wine Enthusiast magazine and a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine competition. Aromas of cherry, plum, sassafras and anise take the front seat on the nose of this beautifully fragrant wine, with soft oak, spice, and cola nuances supporting in the background. On the palate, the wine exudes a core of mixed berry cherry flavors with ripe, soft tannins. The Laguna West Pinot Noir has great structure from natural acidity that sends flavors of dark fruit and cola to a long, lingering finish. 100% Pinot Noir.

Shish Kebabs


4 lbs. bone-out leg of lamb, trimmed into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Pinot Noir
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped


Mix the marinade ingredients together and put into a zip lock plastic bag. Marinade the
lamb overnight. When ready to cook, remove the lamb cubes from the marinade and
place on skewers. Alternate with chunks of green and yellow bell peppers and red onion.
Place the skewers on the grill and cook to your preference of doneness (about 3-5 minutes per side for medium rare. Serve with warm pita bread, jajik, and rice pilaf.

Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine)


4 lb. chicken cut into 8 pieces
6 ounces of pearl onions
6 ounces of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup cognac
3 1/2 cups Pinot Noir
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. flour
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1 lb. brown mushrooms, sliced


Peel skins off pearl onions (placing them in hot water for a minute makes this easier). Set aside. Sauté bacon until crisp and remove. In the bacon fat, fry the chicken about 4 minutes per side and remove. Discard all but 4 Tbs. of the fat in the pan. Over medium heat, add the yellow onion and cook for 2 minutes. Then, add the garlic and half of the carrots and cook an additional 6 minutes. Remove as much fat from the pan as you can, and return the chicken to the pan. Pour in cognac and light on fire gently. Shake pan so the flaming cognac covers the chicken. When the fire is out, add bay leaves, parsley, salt, pepper, and Pinot Noir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove the white meat chicken at this point, but continue cooking the dark meat chicken for an additional 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. In a separate pan, melt 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Add pearl onions and the other half of the carrots and sugar. Cook until the veggies are tender (about 15- 20 minutes). Place the chicken pieces in a pot, leaving the liquid in the pan. Add onions and carrots to the pot. In the empty veggie pan, melt another 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat and sauté the mushrooms about 7 minutes. Add mushrooms to the pot. Make a nice mahogany roux out of the remaining 2 Tbs. butter and the 2 Tbs. of flour. Bring the liquid in the original cooking pan up to a gentle boil and whisk in the roux to thicken. Add the sauce to the pot and mix it all up. Serve with a side of egg noodles or warm French bread