In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Monte Bello estate vineyard was planted,
and the winery constructed. A first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892.
During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; by the 1940s
it was effectively abandoned. Eight acres of cabernet sauvignon were replanted in
1949. These were the source of the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962). Since then, the
original vineyards have gradually been replanted.
Harvest Dates: 8 October - 8 November
Grapes: Average Brix 24.1˚
Fermentation: Gentle destemming, and full crush in the
sixty-three separately-fermented lots.
Natural-yeast primary and secondary
fermentations. Pressed at seven to ten days.
Barrels: 96% new, air-dried american oak, 4% new french oak (for comparison)
Time in Barrel: Eighteen months
Rainfall: 30 inches (below average)
Bloom: Early June
Moderate summer/fall, long cool growing season
A mild February brought early budbreak, and ideal
conditions through spring allowed the vines to set a
full crop. In late September, however, cold weather
halted ripening. October was wet and wintry; then,
on the twenty-third, temperatures soared into the
high eighties. The grapes rebounded quickly, developing
incredible intensity. When tannins did not
extract readily, we shifted from whole-berry to full
crush, putting the seeds in contact with the juice.
For the first time in years, we continued twice-daily
pump-overs until press, at seven to ten days. Most
lots finished uninoculated malolactic by year's end.
In late January, we blind-tasted thirty-six lots,
choosing seventeen for the first assemblage. In May,
six more were included. Despite the unusual
weather, this is classic Monte Bello—dark fruit, firm
tannins, and lively acidity. It will benefit from a
decade of bottle age, and continue to mature for
another twenty years. EB (2/09)