Ridge 2012 Chardonnay Estate

Ridge 2012 Chardonnay Estate bottle shot

2012 Estate Chardonnay, bottled October 2013
100% chardonnay
Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
14.5% alcohol by volume

Winemaker Eric Baugher's Notes (Back Label Text) - A mild winter, early bud-break, and early-April bloom gave us an unusually large crop, which we thinned rigorously; warm summer weather pushed ripening for a September harvest. Whole-cluster pressed, the lots fermented in barrel, and were stirred every two weeks from January to April during natural malolactics. The wine was racked off its gross lees in June, tasted, and assembled. Ripe fruit is balanced by naturally high acidity in this appealing wine. It will be at its best over the next five to eight years. EB (8/13)

Tasting Notes - Pale gold. Tropical notes of ripe pineapple, fig, honeysuckle. Sweet entry; rich, oily texture. Full-bodied, with crisp acidity. Strong apple/pear fruit in an intense finish. -Eric Baugher (1/14)

Video Tasting Note

Presented by winemaker Eric Baugher


Ridge produced its first chardonnay in 1962 from fully-mature vines planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello estate vineyard. Production never exceeded ten barrels, and Monte Bello chardonnay was sold principally at the winery. Several great vintages, among them the 1973, ‘74, ‘79, and ‘84, showed that our cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils were well suited to the varietal. By 1985, the old vines were producing less then a half-ton per acre; the younger ones, planted in the ‘70s, provided the majority of grapes. These newer plantings were on the “lower” vineyard not yet farmed as part of the Monte Bello estate so the wine was called “Santa Cruz Mountains.” The vines are long since included in the estate; with this vintage, the name becomes Ridge Estate Chardonnay. In years when differences among lots are sufficient to warrant a separate bottling, we make a limited amount of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.


Monte Bello map

First vintage: 1985 (as Santa Cruz Mountains); 2009 (as new Estate designation)
Location: Monte Bello Ridge overlooks San Francisco from the Santa Cruz Mountains, an appellation separating the North Coast from the Central Coast but not a part of either.
Elevation: 1400' - 2000'
Soils: Decomposing Franciscan green stone mixed with clay/loam over fractured limestone sub-soils
Vines: 23.3 acres, planted 1976-2010.
Training: Head trained, cane pruned, vertical trellis, vertical shoot positioned.
Climate: Cool, mountainous — between the Mediterranean and Maritime Zones.
Exposure: Principally east/southeast
Yields: Two to three tons per acre (full crop)
Farming: Sustainably farmed

Aerial View - Klein Vineyard

View Larger Map

GPS coordinates: 37° 17' 11.60" N, 122° 05' 50.43" W
Note: Monte Bello tasting room is 3.6 miles (5.8km) up the road from this location.

Growing Season

Monte Bello soil

Rainfall: 18 inches (below average)
Bloom: April
Weather: Moderate summer and fall


Harvest Dates: 10 September - 13 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.5°
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Selection: Seven of the ten Monte Bello vineyard chardonnay parcels
Barrels: 19% new, 11% one year old, 7% two year old, 63% three, four and five years old. 95% air-dried american oak, 5% french oak.
Aging: Nine months in barrel on the lees, and three additional months on the lees in four year old barrels to settle after assemblage.


All estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (28 ppm initially to barrels, 76ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.


Bottle UPC Packaged SRP Notes
750mL 744442479009 12x750mL $50 56 cases/pallet (14 per layer)


SRP: suggested retail price per bottle (U.S. dollars)


  • Wine Advocate Wine Advocate (Issue 215, October 2014): "The beautiful, delicate but powerful 2012 Chardonnay Estate Monte Bello Vineyard (100% Chardonnay) achieved 14.5% natural alcohol. It exhibits notes of white currants, quince, pineapple and white peach. Medium to full-bodied with good acidity and freshness, and the oak pushed to the background, this beauty can be enjoyed over the next 5-6 years." (Rated: 92)
  • Vinous Media logo Vinous Media (July 2014): "The 2012 Chardonnay Estate is utterly impeccable. Lemon, white, flowers, spices, yellow stone fruits, smoke and slate open up nicely in the glass. Readers can look forward to at least a handful of years of fabulous drinking in this resonant, beautifully layered Chardonnay from Ridge. The Estate spent a total of 15 months in American oak, on the longer side by California standards." -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 92)
    Read review online at VinousMedia.com (subscription required)
  • Wine Spectator Wine Spectator Insider (28 May 2014): "Rich and well-centered, with ripe apple, melon, cedary oak, spice and anise notes that are very complete and persistent. Drink now."-James Laube (Rated: 91)
  • California Grapevine California Grapevine (Vol. 40, June 2014): "Medium-light golden yellow color; attractive, fragrant, moderately intense, baked apple and stone fruit aroma with tropical and mineral notes and a hint of vanilla; medium to medium-full body; fleshy, apple and white peach flavors with good balance and a pleasing mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended."
    (Group Score: 16.4 of 20 points, 2/3/1; My Score: 17 (91/100), second place)