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About Kent

I love this picture of us. For one, it is taken in our slightly younger years. Two, it gives the illusion that my wife Janet and I are good dancers (pure illusion, I assure you). Finally, I particularly like the guy in the background, doing the twist. 

As for my background, I think I’ve mentioned already that I hail from Kansas. Despite being from a mostly Baptist/teetotaling family, I got hooked on wine during my first restaurant job at the age of fourteen. After studying English and Physics at William and Mary in Virginia, I "based" myself out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming (read: skied, climbed, and waited tables); ran a wine bar and wine shop in Boise, Idaho; worked a season with a fishing boat and cannery in Seward, Alaska; and traveled/climbed extentively for a time throughout Alaska, Nepal and Thailand (I tried to get my mid-life crisis out of the way early).  In 1996, I landed in the remote Gavilan Mountains, east of Monterey, to start work in winemaking for Chalone Vineyard and to rock climb at Pinnacles National Monument nearby.

Chalone is where I met Janet; she was a park ranger at Pinnacles. We were in front of the green truck in Jackson Hole when she graciously accepted my marriage proposal (I owe it all to the truck).

Some wine sojourns worth mentioning are the harvests I did in South America (in between harvests at Chalone). I worked with Kendall Jackson's projects down there: Vina Calina in Chile and Tapiz/Mariposa in Argentina. I once calculated my wage to be 81 cents/hour during that time, but it gave me the opportunity to experience winemaking "in the trenches." It's amazing how useful duct tape can be.

Two fantastic job offers came along, giving Janet and I the opportunity to move to Napa. Luna Vineyards, which was just a fledgling winery at the time, asked me to come work with them as they grew. They also generously provided a crush pad for the first vintage of my wine. As for my dance partner Janet, she got offered a position with the Marin Humane Society, where she worked tirelessly to save the companion-animal kingdom (a life-long cause for her). In 2004, I stepped away from Luna to focus fully on Road 31, and RJ left the humane society to focus on our latest endeavors: Owen Fortner, born January 2005; and Lila Fortner born March 2008.

So if you come to visit, you are likely not only to get a glass of grin-inducing Pinot Noir, but also be prepared to entertain a rescued cat on the couch next to you, a dog at your feet, and two highly-energetic kids waving toy light sabers at you.

Release News

Current Release: 2017
Status: Sold Out

Direct Buying Window: Closed

In the Spring, Road 31
Pinot Noir is first offered to the
“truckers” (mail list).


"Supple, seamless, sexy and pure style. Kirsch, black raspberries, spice box, dried flowers and incense notes all emerge from this fresh, balanced, silky [2017] wine that's ideal for drinking over the coming 5-6 years. 93 pts." --Jeb Dunnuck

"The 2016... is a forward, incredible charming effort that offers impressive amounts of kirsch and blackberry fruits to go with notes of spring flowers, moderate tannins, and a silky, elegant, weightless texture. I love its balance. 92 pts." --Jeb Dunnuck

"The 2015 Pinot Noir is slightly darker and richer than the 2014 and gives up plenty of currant and mulberry fruit, notes of spring flowers and forest floor, medium- bodied richness, terrific balance, and a structured, age-worthy style that should benefit from short-term cellaring. 92+ pts."--Jeb Dunnuck

"This [2014] silky, elegant, seamless Pinot Noir has no hard edges and stays light and graceful on the palate. 92 pts."--Jeb Dunnuck

"Each year, Fortner and his green 1966 Ford pickup have turned out a tiny batch—500 to 700 cases—of Pinot Noir that has garnered accolades and a mailing list of rabid fans, endearingly called 'truckers.' His one-man operation is the epitome of specialty small-batch winemaking."--Men's Journal, "Napa's New Breed."

"Toasty oak, good structure and balance; Complex, interesting flavors mark this Pinot -- it's great. 92 pts."–The Pinot Report.

"Road 31's 2011 Pinot Noir impresses for its delicate, understated personality. This is an absolutely goregous wine, especially in the context of a vintage that was full of challenges."--Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

"This wine walks the walk (or should I say rides the road). The pretty ruby color draws you in. The sexy nose offers up dark cherries, roses, nutmeg, and toasty oak. Flavors of cherries, cinnamon and vanilla are luscious enough to nibble on. The wine finishes with a sexy candied cherry kiss that lingers. A beautifully balanced wine with sensual creaminess that only Pinot Noir can offer."--Pinotfile Newsletter, Dec 2006

"Delicious Pinots from Road 31 and proprietor Kent Fortner. The Road 31 Pinots are aged partly in Hungarian oak, which adds a distinctive layer of spiciness."--Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.
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Business Office
Phone: 707-649-1200


Address (My home; correspondence only please)
1175 Azuar Dr.
Mare Island, CA 94592

The caves and winery in the Stag’s Leap district of Napa are open strictly—but happily—by appointment; just reach out via email.