2018 Estate Merlot

2018 Estate Merlot

Wine Information

100% Merlot




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Deep garnet red with nose of bright red cherry and sweet oak. On the palate, ripe red bramble fruit, plush and supple tannins, and lively acidity. EB (3/20)

Vintage Notes

A mild winter prompted early bud-break. Spring storms delivered more rain, and slowed vine growth. Casa Grande, with its steep terrain, has three different areas which were picked on the same day – October 1st. Fermented for six days, once pressed, the three lots went to separate barrels. By taste, we decided to combine all of the barrels to make this classic merlot. Appealing now, it will be enjoyable over the next eight to ten years.


Ridge first made merlot in 1974 from the Point, the highest, most exposed block on the Monte Bello vineyard at an elevation of 2600′. Originally, we wanted to see if the varietal could match the quality of, and be included in, the Monte Bello. Once satisfied that it could, we planted more merlot over the years as space and resources allowed. From 1975 on, it has been a part of the Monte Bello whenever assemblage tastings so indicated. As the younger plantings matured, it became apparent that not only did merlot complement the Monte Bello, but also had the structure and complexity to merit a separate bottling.

Growing Season

Rainfall:26 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Mid June
Weather: Winter rains were late to arrive, delivering a season’s worth or rainfall in March. This gave Monte Bello 75% of the 26 inches of rain for the year, which is below normal. Spring remained cold with heavier than usual fog, slowing the progress for an early October harvest.


Harvest Date: 1 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.5˚
TA: 6.45 g/L
pH: 3.51
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak barrels (58% new, 8% one year-old, and 34% two years-old).
Aging: Eighteen months in barrel

Hand-harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed, left as whole berries; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.34 g/L calcium carbonate added to three of three lots; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm initially, 77 ppm over the course of aging). Depth filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 91.3

No. of Tasting Notes: 26

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