Hartford Family Winery

Hartford Family Wines


Making delicious wines of high personality is directly related to the difficult locations of our vineyard sources, the limited production of our bottlings and the varietals we use. "Character through adversity" is an expression that we believe applies to people and grapevines and surviving adversity builds character, and personality, in both.

Location Description

Our winery is located in Forestville, California about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean.


Fax: 707-887-7785


  • Named one of the Top Wineries of 2010 by Wine & Spirits magazine.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:


Born and raised in South Lake Tahoe, California, Jeff Stewart is, not surprisingly, an avid skier. But it was a summer trip to France and an enthusiastic chemistry teacher that enticed him away from the mountains and into winemaking.

"My summer in France was really my first experience with wine as part of the family meal. I was fascinated with the lifestyle and the importance of wine in that culture," says Hartford Family Winemaker and General Manager, Jeff Stewart. "I knew I wanted to pursue a career in science and after several conversations with my high school chemistry teacher, I was soon enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology program at U.C. Davis. The idea of combining agriculture, science and the creativity of making wine, something celebrated and revered in many cultures for thousands of years, was mesmerizing."

A UC Davis graduate with a degree in Fermentation Science, Viticulture, and Enology, Jeff has been making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Old Vine Zinfandel in the Russian River and Sonoma County for over 25 years. Having also held winemaking positions at Laurier, De Loach, Mark West, Kunde, La Crema and most recently Buena Vista Carneros, Jeff brings with him a wealth of experience and an established reputation for quality. His deft hand with cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in particular make him a perfect fit to lead the winemaking team at Hartford Family Winery.


1994 - The winery makes its first Hartford Court wines.


Inaugural vintage wines are released.
Hartford Court is chosen as Artisan Winery of the Year by Wines &Spirits magazine.
Arrendell Vineyard Pinot Noir is chosen Best Pinot Noir by the Wine News.
Bon Appetit selects a Hartford Court wine as one of its Top Wines of the Year.
The Hartford Vineyard Zinfandel is chosen by The Wine Spectator's James Laube as one of the "Best Zins available in 1996".
All 1994 releases receive high acclaim from other prestigious wine publications, such as The Wine Advocate, The Wine Enthusiast and Wines & Spirits magazine.

1997 - 1999

Hartford Court wines are served at the White House on several occasions.
The 1996 Hartford Court, Dutton Ranch-Sanchietti Vineyard Pinot Noir is chosen Best Pinot Noir at The Monterey Wine Festival.
The 1996 Hartford Court Seascape Vineyard Chardonnay is described by Robert Parker in The Wine Advocate as "A dead ringer for a high class white Burgundy."
The 1996 Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel is awarded Best Zinfandel at The Monterey Wine Festival.
The 1995 Hartford Vineyard Zinfandel is chosen Best Zinfandel at The San Francisco Wine Fair.

2000 - 2001

The 1998 Hartford, Fanucchi-Wood Road Zinfandel is awarded Sweepstakes Red Wine (Best Red Wine of Show) at the 2000 Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
With unprecedented success, Hartford Family Winery earns consecutive Harvest Fair Sweepstakes awards, winning the Sweepstakes White Wine (Best White Wine of Show) at the 2001 Sonoma County Harvest Fair with the 1999 Hartford Court Laura's Chardonnay.
Robert Parker in The Wine Advocate complements the winery generally by stating that "It appears that Hartford has entered the upper echelon of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel producers in Northern California" (12/23/00).
Additional excellent reviews from Decanter magazine, Restaurant Wines and The Wine Enthusiast on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel highlight consistently high quality of Hartford Family Wines.


Mike Sullivan named "Winemaker of the Year" by Ronn Wiegand M.S., M.W. in Restaurant Wines.
The Boston Herald runs an article on pinot noir entitled "Outstanding pinot noir comes with the terroir" focusing on Don Hartford, the Hartford Family winery, and Hartford pinot noirs.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate names Mike Sullivan, Hartford Family Winery Winemaker, a "wine personality of the year."


2000 Hartford Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel named in Top Ten Wines of 2002 by Bob Johnson, Wine Times, 1/8/03.
Hartford Sonoma Coast Chardonnay bottle shot is featured on the cover of Wine & Spirits Magazine, 8/03.
Hartford Vineyard Zinfandel listed as Number 6 of "Top 100 Wines of 2003" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 12/03.


Hartford Family Winery named as an "Artisan Winery of the Year" by Wine & Spirits Magazine, 12/04.


Robert M. Parker Jr. reviews Hartford Family Winery's wines and states "These are always some of the most exciting as well as diverse offerings in my tastings, and I always walk away shaking my head at just how good they are."
2002 Hartford Court Arrendell Vineyard Pinot Noir served at the White House.
2004 Hartford Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir awarded Best of Class Pinot Noir at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair (Best Pinot Noir tasted over $25).


2003 Hartford Court Stone Cote Vineyard Chardonnay named in Wine & Spirits Magazine's 100 Best Wines of 2006.
2003 Hartford Court Seascape Vineyard Chardonnay is made an Editor's Choice in Robb Report's Top One Hundred Wines Issue, 11/06.
2003 Seascape Vineyard Pinot Noir named in Top 10 Pinot Noirs tasted by Wine & Spirits Magazine.


Hartford Family Winery named in top 100 Vintners of 2007 by Robb Report, 11/07.
2005 Hartford Court Land's Edge Vineyards Pinot Noir Ranked Seventh Wine and Top Pinot Noir in Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines of 2007, 12/07.
2004 Hartford Court Fog Dance Vineyards Pinot Noir and 2004 Hartford Court Stone Cote Vineyard Chardonnay Named in Top 101 Wines of 2007 by Canadian Wine Access Magazine.
2005 Hartford Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel and 2005 Jolene's Vineyard Zinfandel named in Bon Appetit Magazine list of wines to serve with Turkey for the Holidays, 11/07.
2005 Hartford Court Stone Cote Vineyard Chardonnay recommended by Food and Wine Magazine as a wine to buy, 11/07.
2006 Hartford Court Stone Cote Vineyard Chardonnay rated 96 Points by Robert M. Parker's The Wine Advocate - among highest rated Chardonnays of 2007, 12/07.


2005 Hartford Court Far Coast Pinot Noir Top Rated Pinor Noir of 2007 by Wine & Spirits Magazine, April 2008.
2007 Hartford Court Four Hearts Vineyard Chardonnay rated 96 Points by Robert M. Parker's The Wine Advocate - among highest rated chardonnays of 2008, 12/08.
2007 Hartford Court Stone Cote Chardonnay rated 95 Points by Robert M. Parker's The Wine Advocate - among highest rated chardonnays of 2008, 12/08.


2007 Stone Cote Chardonnay rated 96 Points by The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 7/09.
2007 Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel rated 96 Points by The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 8/09.
2007 Arrendell Vineyard Pinot Noir rated 95 Points by The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 7/09.
2007 Hailey's Block Pinot Noir rated 95 Points by The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 7/09.
2007 Four Hearts Chardonnay Recommended by Robb Report and described as "White Gold," 6/09.


2007 Arrendell Vineyard Pinot Noir rated 95 points by Robert Parker's, The Wine Advocate 2/10 and The Wine Enthusiast 8/09
2007 Seascape Vineyard Pinot Noir rated 95 points by The Wine Enthusiast 4/10


2008 Hartford Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel rated 95 points by Robert Parker's, The Wine Advocate.


2009 Hartford Fanucchi Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel rated 95 points by Robert Parker's, The Wine Advocate
2009 Hartford Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel rated 95 points by Robert Parker's, Wine Advocate.


2012 Hartford Court Farcoast Vineyard Chardonnay rated 95-97 points by Robert Parker's, Wine Advocate, December 2013
2012 Hartford Court Seascape Vineyard Chardonnay rated 95-97 points by Robert Parker's, Wine Advocate, December 2013
2012 Hartford Highwire Vineyard Chardonnay rated 95 points by Robert Parker's, Wine Advocate, December 2013

The Team

Don Hartford - President

Don Hartford grew up on a small strawberry farm in western Massachusetts, and later attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. To cover the cost of tuition and expenses, Don worked as a "straw boss" on a cigar wrapper tobacco farm, a degreaser in a bicycle factory, and a lifeguard at Congamond Lakes in Massachusetts.

After earning a B.A., Don spent a year teaching English-as-a-second-language in Spain and later taught Spanish for four years in Massachusetts. Don Hartford met his wife, Jennifer Jackson-Hartford, at Santa Clara University in Northern California in 1979. (Shortly thereafter, Jennifer's father, Jess, started a modest 16,000 case winery called Kendall-Jackson.) In 1982, he graduated from Santa Clara Law School. Don's legal career included a Tokyo law firm, a large San Francisco-based firm, Jess Jackson's practice of Constitutional law, and work at the California Supreme Court. He also was a partner in a small country law partnership, and served for a time as a winery general counsel and vice president.

Over the last twenty-five years, Don has been immersed in winemaking and winery management. In the process, Don has returned to one of his first loves-the land and farming. In addition, he and Jenny personally own and lead the farming of the winery’s vineyards, including farms a small old vine zinfandel vineyard behind their home. As President and part owner of Hartford Family Wines (with Jennifer), Don works "hands on" at all levels of the business, including work in the vineyards, winery, marketing, hospitality and sales.

Practices & Techniques

Farming to Show Vineyard Character:

The Hartford family farms its vineyards to allow the vineyards to display characteristics that are unique to their sites.


We have performed in depth soils analyses of each of our vineyards. Different soils have been identified and vineyards were mapped into small blocks at the time of planting. Farming practices and rootstock/clonal selections are then tailored to the soils and other environmental conditions. Our goal is to allow each specific block within a vineyard to express its optimum, most distinctive character.

Sustainable Organic and Biodynamic Farming:

The least invasive farming principles are followed. Organic practices are employed in several of our vineyards and Biodynamic practices have been used at two sites.

Less is More:

We believe that limited intervention promotes the expression of vineyard personality or character and adds to our belief in sustainability.

Vine Spacing:

The vines are tightly spaced (from 4 by 6 feet to 5 by 8 feet, depending on location). We believe that tight spacing encourages competition among vines, promotes smaller cluster and berry size, and accentuates the intensity of our wines.

Low Yields:

We believe low yields generally produce more intense concentrated flavors and textures. Our vineyards typically yield from as little as .75 ton per acre to about 3 tons per acre.

Dry Farming:

Several of our established vineyards are not irrigated. We feel over-watering of vines produces more crop but dilutes flavors.

Harvest by Taste:

We harvest when the flavors are right. We do not harvest our grapes based solely on brix readings, or testing in the lab.

We consider such measurements to be valuable, but at Hartford Family Winery, we harvest our grapes when we judge, by tasting, that sugars, tannins, acids and most importantly flavors are all optimum.

Hand Picking and Sorting:

Gentle handling and sorting of both clusters and berries preserve fruit quality.

Cold Soaking:

Before fermentation is allowed to begin, whole berries and juice are placed in chilled tanks for nearly five days. This process extracts additional flavors (polyphenols) and more supple tannins that can not be obtained during the warmer fermentation process.

Destemmed, Not Crushed:

Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are partially de-stemmed, but not crushed. Approximately seventy-five percent whole berries are delivered to stainless steel open-top fermenters where they are given a pre-fermentation cold soak and stirred daily for about 5 days to extract optimum color and mouth-feel. Small lots of Pinot Noir are occasionally whole cluster fermented.

Open Top Fermentation:

For maximum color and flavor extraction, shallow, wide fermentors are used to facilitate the mixing (punching down) of the skins. During fermentation red grapes are punched down in small open-top fermentors and pressed-off after taste evaluation, usually at, or close to, dryness.

Native Yeasts For Primary & Secondary Fermentation:

After the Pinot Noir and Zinfandel cold soak, the cooling jackets are turned off and the grape juice is allowed to warm and begin fermentation utilizing primarily native yeasts for both primary and secondary malolactic fermentation.

French Oak:

Only tight grain French oak barrels are used to age all of the wines. Wines are aged from 11 to 15 months. New French oak percentages generally range from 30% up to 100%.

Minimal Handling:

After going to barrel, wines are usually racked only once before bottling.


Chardonnay is hand sorted, whole cluster pressed and undergoes 100% barrel and malolactic fermentation. Batonage, or stirring of lees (spent yeast cells), is performed, as warranted, to build texture in the Chardonnay. Most often wines undergo native yeast fermentation.

Unfined and Unfiltered:

Most wines are not fined or filtered in order to preserve the mouth-filling flavors and textures in our wine.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Arrendell Vineyard
Arrendell Vineyard sits in arguably the coldest spot in the Green Valley sub-appellation of the Russian River AVA. The vineyard is sometimes referred to as the "Snow Shoe Vineyard" because, in wet years, the vineyard manager has had to equip his pruning team with snowshoes to get through a small area of muddy rows. Each year, the vineyard struggles to ripen the fewer-than-two-tons-per-acre crop by Halloween. Often, much of Sonoma County's Cabernet Sauvignon (the latest ripening red varietal) is picked before Arrendell Pinot Noir. These adverse conditions create a wine of distinct character.

Dina's Vineyard
Dina's Vineyard was planted by the Arata family more than 95 years ago. Today only about five acres of gnarled, dry-farmed vines remain at the Arata home. The vines are predominantly headtrained. They are planted on the typical old-vine, eight-by-eight spacing, originally intended to allow horses to cultivate between the vines in both directions of the vineyard planting. A deep, dark color, coffee-like aromas, and dense, broad texture are all typical indicators of Dina's Vineyard terroir.

Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard
The 98-year old Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard is located on about seven acres along a slight rise off Wood Road in the Russian River Valley appellation of Sonoma County. It is dry-farmed and has been hand-tended by the Fanucchi family for the last 29 years. The vineyard is head trained, but the Fanucchis have raised the gnarled vines from just above ground level to chest height. This modification appears to provide greater sun exposure and air circulation and to have reinvigorated the old vines, enhancing the production of high-quality, old-vine fruit.

The soils on Wood Road are sandy loam of relatively low pH and fertility. Old vines on these soils produce small Zinfandel berries with bright, concentrated cherry and blackberry fruit flavors. At optimum ripeness, the fruit makes a big, intense, long-lived Zinfandel of unique personality. Bright, high-tone cherry aromas and flavors are typical indicators of Fanucchi-Wood Road terroir.

Far Coast
Our Far Coast Vineyard is a cool site surrounded by redwood forests, almost two hours north of the Russian River on a Sonoma Coast mountain ridge. It is an area that some call the 'True Sonoma Coast'. Others would simply describe the distant vineyard site as 'the middle of nowhere'. Far Coast Vineyard sits just south of the Peay Vineyard at an elevation of about 900 to 1200 feet above sea level. The soils at this ridge-top site are well drained and help to intensify the sense of minerality and focus in this rare single vineyard Pinot Noir.

Hailey's Block
Hailey's Block is located within the renowned Arrendell Vineyard and is named after founder Don Hartford's daughter Hailey. The block was planted 11 years ago to Dijon selections of Pinot Noir at a time when Hailey was just six years old. Over the last eleven years, we have watched both Hailey and her namesake Pinot Noir mature into personalities of great strength, beauty and charm. The 2006 Hailey's Block Pinot Noir represents a block within the prestigious Arrendell Vineyard planted with Dijon 114 and 777 selections.

Arrendell Vineyard sits in arguably the coldest spot in the Green Valley sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley AVA. The cold meso-climate that results from cool air settling in this low-lying vineyard preserves natural acidity in the grapes and helps preserve the purity expression of the unique terroir in this beautiful, new release.

Hartford Vineyard
Don Hartford tends this 90-year old vineyard located on approximately seven acres along Wood Road in the Russian River appellation of Sonoma County. The vineyard is head-pruned and produces low annual yields of roughly 1.5 tons an acre (Some vines producing only several clusters of intensely flavored grapes a year). The signature of this unique terroir is an intense sweet blackberry aroma and a supple texture.

Wood Road has well-draining, low fertility, sandy loam soils about two to three feet in depth over deeper layers of compacted sandy loam of about four to six inches. Because the Italian immigrants who planted the Wood Road Vineyard in the early 1900s wanted to ensure long vine life and moisture for their dry-farmed vines, they placed a blasting cap where each vine was to be planted and blasted through the compacted layer. Today we continue to enjoy the fruits of their ingenuity and celebrate the legacy of 'dynamite' Zinfandels.

Highwire Vineyard
The 96-year old Highwire Vineyard takes its name from the vineyards trellising systems: half of the parcel is head trained; half is trained on an unusually high wire strung between each vine. This unconventional trellising method was devised by vineyard owner Lloyd Chelli to permit greater sun exposure and promote even ripening. Both sections of the vineyard are harvested and evaluated individually before selecting the best lots to ensure consistency in style of the incredibly unique 'Highwire' Vineyard Zinfandel. The Chelli family cares deeply for the old vines behind their home. Their dedicated approach to farming is reflected in the character of the wine produced from their vineyard.

Seascape Vineyard
Seascape Vineyard sits on a panoramic site on a scenic ridge-top west of Occidental, California in the Sonoma Coast AVA. The vineyard abuts an old redwood grove and faces cascading ridges to Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The well-known Coastlands Vineyard also borders the property. With no ridge between the ocean and the vineyard, Seascape is extremely cold — so cold that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is often picked in November. The vineyard is cropped to about two tons per acre to ensure thorough ripening. Though difficult to farm, Seascape's grapes offer the great reward of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir brimming with intensity, terroir and structure.

Sevens Bench Vineyard
The 1999 Sevens Bench Pinot Noir was our first release from this estate vineyard. Low yields, high-density spacing and intensive farming are all essential elements in crafting this evocative wine. Our Sevens Bench Vineyard is a small vineyard block on Duhig Road in Napa/Carneros. The name Sevens Bench is derived from the two predominate clones, Dijon 667 and Dijon 777, planted at the vineyard. These Dijon clones produce a wine with intense fruit aromas, an expansive mid-palate, and fine-grained tannins

Stone Côte Vineyard
The Stone Côte Vineyard is a small vineyard block within the well known Durrell Vineyard, it sits in the path of an ancient, uplifted river bed on the flank of Sonoma Mountain within the cool Sonoma Coast AVA. Tumbled and water-worn cobblestones now litter the landscape of the vineyard, and very little topsoil remains. The nutritionally deficient soils force the vines to search for water and generate considerable stress on the vines. The stressed vines in turn yield very small clusters with intense varietal flavors.

Climatically, this vineyard site is characterized by cool daytime tempteratures, high winds and cold ocean breezes. The low fertility soils and the cool temperatures unite to form an ideal site for growing Chardonnay. The wine's flinty aromas and mineral-laden finish are a reflection of the stony vineyard's location.

Velvet Sisters Vineyard
In the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County the local residents speak an obscure dialect of English known as Boontling, developed in the late 1800s. The "Velvet Sisters" are local historical figures who, in Boontling lore, became known for wearing plush velvet dresses that they had purchased on a trip to British Columbia.

We receive grapes from a small hillside vineyard block at the "Deep End" of the Anderson Valley that we call "Velvet Sisters" in tribute to the Anderson Valley history and the wine's plush velvety texture. This vineyard, located near the town of Philo, is planted to the Dijon clone 115 and the Pommard clones of Pinot Noir. We feel this vineyard and the aforementioned clones are influential in producing a wine with lively fruit aromas and a silky texture; exemplary of the best of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.


92 Points!
2011 Hartford
Dina's Vineyard Zinfandel

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Open daily from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm Holiday Hours: Thanksgiving Day - CLOSED Day after Thanksgiving - OPEN - Noon-4:30pm Christmas Eve - ClOSED Christmas DAY - CLOSED Day After Christmas - OPEN - Noon-4:30pm New Year's Eve - OPEN - 10am-3pm New Year's Day - CLOSED


8075 Martinelli Rd.
Forestville, California 95436
United States

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