Gary and Barbara Snider’s passion for grape growing began early in their relationship while both were pursuing degrees at UC Davis. In the intervening years between college, marriage, raising two children, and purchasing their first vineyard property in 1988, Gary pursued a corporate career in San Francisco while Barbara taught at the college level and later completed law school. They both continued to manage full time careers while developing their hillside vineyard in Knights Valley. Their son, Tim, also learned the business “from the ground up” while working on the vineyard during the summers while finishing high school and college. After 10 years of growing and selling grapes from the Knights Valley vineyard to various Napa Valley wineries, the Sniders began looking for new possibilities in Lake County in the area that is now known as the Red Hills Lake County AVA. They saw great potential for growing high premium grapes on a mountain vineyard. They purchased several contiguous parcels of land on a ridge on Mt. Konocti overlooking Clear Lake and in 1998, and using their years of research and experience, began development of the high-altitude mountain vineyard. They later named the vineyard the Fortress Vineyard for the many rocks cleared and pushed along the side of the mountain forming medieval-like rock walls throughout the property.