In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the initial plantings of the Monte Bello estate vineyard were set out, and winery construction begun. A first vintage from the young vines followed in the 1892. During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; some vines survived into the late 30’s, but by the 1940s they were effectively abandoned. Eight acres of cabernet sauvignon were replanted in 1949. These were the source of the first Ridge Monte Bellow (1962). Sine then, the historic vineyards on the ridge have gradually been replanted.
A dry winter ended abruptly in February, as we raced to finish pruning before new growth emerged. That early start to the growing season, and late September heat, threatened to over-ripe the fruit. With help from our Sonoma crew, we harvested in a record sixteen days. Despite limiting pump-overs and pressing early, tannins were quick to extract, producing one of our most structured vintages. In tastings, 19 of 24 parcels were selected for the exceptional wine. Balanced and appealing now, it will come into its own with twenty years of age, and show well at fifty. EB (2/14)
Harvest dates: September 21 - October 16
Grapes: Average Brix 25.1
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Automated berry sorting followed by hand sorting. Fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at seven days. Natural malolactic (15% in tank, 85% in barrel).
Barrels: 98.5% new air-dried American oak; 1.5% new French oak
Ageing: Sixteen months in barrel.
Ingredients: Hand harvested, sustainably grown estate grapes; indigenous yeasts; naturally occurring malolactic bacteria; 2.4% water addition; calcium carbonate; oak from barrel ageing; minimum effective SO2.
81.3 tons from 60.6 acres, nineteen of twenty-four Monte Bello parcels selected. Sustainable farmed, hand harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed and sorted; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 9.8 g/L calcium carbonate to moderate the unusually high natural acidity in four of the nineteen parcels; 2.4% water addition to twelve of the nineteen lots during fermentation; oak from barrel ageing; minimum effective sulfur 25 ppm at crush, 115 ppm during ageing; pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Rainfall: 18 inches (below average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Moderate summer and fall
Winemaker tasting notes
Saturated ruby. Ripe cassis, blackberry, violets, liquorice, wet stone, oak spice. Strong blackberry fruit on the entry; superb full body; structured, velvety tannins; toasty oak; crushed-limestone minerals; long, intense finish.
Bone-in prime rib, horseradish mash, Yorkshire pudding & gravy. Pan seared filet mignon, foraged mushroom gratin & Marchand du vin.