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 and were taken out. The younger vines, planted in the ‘70s, provide the majority of grapes today. Initially 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” and these vines have long since been included. Since 2009 the wine has been 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.
“Coming from the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2019 Chardonnay Estate offers a beautiful sense of reduction and minerality in its stone fruits, toasted brioche, and crushed stone-like aromas and flavors. A kiss of green almonds and salinity emerges with time in the glass, and this is a beautiful, classic Chardonnay from this team that will evolve gracefully for a good 20 years or more.”
95 Points, Jeb Dunnuck, July 2021
“Mostly from vines planted in the 1970s at parcels since-incorporated into the Monte Bello Estate, this wine ferments spontaneously in oak barrels (mostly American, ranging from one to five years old). This vintage is a selection of ten out of 12 parcels, grown over greenstone (altered basalt) and decomposing limestone at the former Rousten and Klein Vineyards, lower-elevation site at the estate. It’s a pale chardonnay with lemon and ginger scents, the tight, brisk structure nodding to the Pacific, not only for the climate but also for the uplifted seabed soils above the San Andreas fault. Within that structure, the wine feels lush and juicy, cool and savory, delicious with scallop and porcini risotto.”
94 Points, Wine & Spirits Magazine, October 2021
“Concentrated aromas of hawthorn, dried pineapple, salted caramel and buttered toast. It’s full-bodied with bright acidity and intense, tightly wound layers of ripe, spiced fruit. Fantastic phenolic tension and energy here. Drink or hold.”
94 Points, James Suckling, February 2021