2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate

2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate

Wine Information

68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Vintage Notes

Bud break was early, but a cool spring delayed bloom until early June. Unusually high temperatures in mid- September stressed the young merlot, disqualifying it for inclusion in this year’s wine. The mature merlot, cabernets, and petit verdot were unaffected, and harvested on schedule throughout October. Acidity was firm and tannins easily extractable-even during the first three days, we limited circulation of juice over the cap of skins. From the start of natural yeast fermentation on day four, we allowed circulation only under the cap, and pressed at dryness after nine days. Most of the thirty-four lots went through natural malolactic in barrel: fourteen were selected for this fine companion to the Monte Bello. In aging, new oak was limited to forty percent; time in barrel was extended to twenty-one months. This beautifullybalanced wine is enjoyable now, and will develop fully over the next ten to twelve years. PD (6/05)


The Monte Bello vineyard was first planted when the winery was built, in 1886. In the early 1940s, the last of the old vineyard was abandoned; a few blocks were replanted in 1949. Those cabernet vines – now over fifty years old – produced the first Ridge Monte Bello in 1962, and subsequent vintages until the mid-seventies. By then, blocks replanted during the sixties were maturing, and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. Softer, more accessible lots were combined as a different style of fine wine which, since 1979, we have called Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains.

Growing Season

Rainfall: Above normal at 51 inches
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Weather at bloom was very good, and the merlot vines in particular set a large crop. We thinned up to 40% of the fruit in some blocks to concentrate flavors and ensure ripeness.


Harvest Dates: 24 September – 22 October
Grapes: Average brix 24.6.
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Small (1-5 ton capacity) fermentors. Pressed at nine days. Natural uninoculated malolactic (half in barrels, half in tanks).
Selection: Eight of the thirty-six Monte Bello vineyard parcels make up this Santa Cruz Mountains. These lots were fined with fresh egg whites, and given eight additional months of barrel age to develop complexity and soften tannins.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels; (40% new, 20% one and two year old, 40% three and four year old).
Aging: Twenty-one months in barrel

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 91.3

No. of Tasting Notes: 53

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