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; and the wine is designated 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.
Harvest Dates: 26 September - 19 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.5°
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic).
Barrels: 14% new, 10% one year old, 15% two year old, 61% three and four year old.
92% air-dried american oak, 8% french oak.
Aging: Eleven months in barrel, and three months of additional aging on the gross lees;
2/3 in four year old barrels, 1/3 in tank.
Rainfall: 30 inches (average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Cool, late spring; cold summer; long, mild fall.
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 (30 ppm initially to barrels,
67 ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this
is the sum of our actions.
Winemaker Tasting Notes
Tropical pineapple fruit on the nose with white flowers, apricot, and honeysuckle. A rich entry and good texture,
showing ripe apple and pear fruit on the palate. Medium bodied, crisp acidity, and a long finish.