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: 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.
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.
Nine months in barrel on the lees, and three additional months on the lees in
four year old barrels to settle after assemblage.
Rainfall: 18 inches (below average)
Weather: Moderate summer and 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 for this wine (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.
Winemaker Tasting Notes
Tropical notes of ripe pineapple, fig, and honeysuckle on the nose. A rich, oily texture on the
palate with strong flavors of apple and pear. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and an intense finish.