Santa Cruz Mountains AVA

91 Points - Wine Enthusiast magazine

World-renowned cardiovascular surgeon, inventor, entrepreneur, businessman, teacher, author, husband and father. Winery owner Thomas J. Fogarty has made his mark in a uniquely diverse fashion. He is Professor of Surgery at Stanford University and still performs numerous cardiac surgeries. He has founded several medical device companies based on the dozens of medical instruments he invented and patented. Design engineers at his Fogarty Research center have developed numerous commercially successful medical products including a minimally invasive devise for breast cancer diagnosis and also a self-expanding stent-graft used to treat aortic aneurysms. He is a recipient of the Inventor of the Year award by the San Francisco Patent and Trademark Association. And in 1998 was honored as Ernst & Young’s northern California Entrepreneur of the Year. He has contributed to a number of respected surgical textbooks and has written hundreds of articles on cardiac, vascular, and general surgery. His list of fascinating accomplishments go on and on, too voluminous to mention them all here.

What really caught our attention to Thomas Fogarty though, was his ability to make a great bottle of wine! In the early 1970s, Fogarty began dabbling in home winemaking after purchasing 320 acres along the ridge of the dramatic Santa Cruz Mountains. In 1980 he and friend Michael Martella started planting 12 acres of Chardonnay at the top of his property at a 2,000-foot elevation. At that height and location, the vines get excellent sunlight exposure throughout the day, a cool breeze in the afternoon and protection from frost by the mild ocean breezes. These ideal climate conditions, together with a long growing season provide a near perfect environment for Chardonnay.

In 1983 they added 6.5 acres of Pinot Noir which also thrives in the relatively cool climate and mountainous terrain. And since then they have added small vineyards of Merlot and Sangiovese grapes. As of today the small estate vineyard totals 21 acres of these four varietals.

From the outset, winemaker and business partner Michael Martella has overseen the planting of the vineyards and construction of the Thomas Fogarty Winery. Since that time, he has earned a reputation as one of the top winemakers in the state. His Italian family heritage with deep traditions in wine steered him toward winemaking classes at the University of Fresno. There he completed programs in both enology and viticulture then spent his early career honing his craft at several large wineries. In 1980 he teamed up with Thomas Fogarty and never looked back.

As the winery’s only winemaker Michael has turned out world class wines year after year. He is at the top of his game in producing top notch Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gewurtztraminer. His wines have won such national acclaim as “the highest ranked wine in California.” Michael also crafts small lots of specialty wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Barbera to round out the winery’s annual production of 14,000 cases. Over his twenty-year tenure at the winery, Michael has brought much deserved attention to the unique qualities of the small Santa Cruz Mountain growing area.

The winery itself has long been a popular gathering place for corporate conferences, weddings, private parties and thousands of curious wine enthusiasts. The 320-acre hilltop property has a commanding panoramic view of San Francisco, the Pacific Ocean, Mount Diablo and San Jose. The winery facility and handsome tri-level redwood reception building is surrounded by vineyards and beautifully manicured lawns. A huge open-air Pavilion with an all-weather copper covering is perched over the vineyard to provide a year-round venue for winery events. The majestic Hill House and its adjoining glassed terrace is also an area used year-round. Stone fireplaces, stained glass windows and hardwood floors combine for a beautiful feast for the eyes.

Thomas Fogarty has created an awesome destination point carved out of the Santa Cruz mountainside. When you’re in the Bay area you don’t want to miss seeing his unique winery or tasting his exquisite wines.

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