This much overdue return to California with my longstanding Kiwi mates took us south of San Francisco. A decade earlier we had indulged in the well known excesses of Napa, Sonoma and Russian River. The plan this time was to explore the main Central Coast wine regions including Santa Cruz Mountains, Carmel Valley, Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles. What better place to start than Ridge Vineyards, Monte bello.
Not far from the town of Santa Cruz over the Santa Cruz mountain range and overlooking Silicon Valley we arrived at the iconic Ridge Montebello Vineyards at 2,300 feet altitude. Dr Osea Perrone first planted vines here in 1885 but the vines were abandoned during prohibition. Famed for the Ridge Monte Bello 1971 which was one of the top wines at the famous 1976 ‘Judgement of Paris’ tasting organised by Stephen Spurrier.
Since then they are known as producing some of the best wines in California.
In a re run of the competition to mark it’s 40th anniversary in 2006, Ridge Monte Bello 1971 came top. Ridge also has an estate in Sonoma, Lytton springs.
Monte Bello Chardonnay 2015
Sourced from the lower altitude Klein Vineyards
Very Burgundian in style nicely balanced with good acidity, malolactic with lees contact generating lovely texture and clear minerality. Delicious Chardonnay.
Limestone and greenstone subsoil with sandy loam
Geyserville 2016 Zinfandel Carignan Petit Verdot Alicante Bouchet spice, herbs, good acid
Lytton Springs 2016
Zinfandel Carignan Petit Verdot Mataro, Black fruits savoury concentrated
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Green pepper cool climate feel, restrained.
Ridge Monte Bello 2015
77% Cab sav 11% Merlot 7% Petit Verdot 5% Cabernet Franc
Cedar mint good structure blackcurrant long finish smooth tannins
Ridge Monte Bello 2006
Left bank Bordeaux style with some tertiary developments, would be hard to tell from a classed Bordeaux in a Blind tasting.
Ridge Monte Bello 2007
More complex than 2006
Cedar liquorice spice cocoa good structure and long finish
The wines whet our appetites and we headed down the mountain to San Jose’s Western suburb of Cupertino to the impressive ‘Counter Burger’. Here you can tailor make your own burger. Highly recommend the Half pound Bison burger with gouda.
It’s a Scenic drive along West Cliff road onto Route 1 from Santa Cruz followed by a climb up into the Ben Lomond mountains parallel to Santa Cruz Mountain range. Our oversized Cadillac SUV led us comfortably to the beautiful Beauregard Vineyards in the coastal redwood forests of Bonny Doon.
This winery was Started in 1945 they possess 65 acres in this area on mainly sandy loamy soils. We took a leisurely stroll in their redwood forest and picnic gardens.
Beauregard Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Very sharp acidic lacking florality, some minerality lees aged
Beauregard Sauvignon Blanc 2017 hints of tangerine less tart nice texture
Beauregard Pinot Noir rose 2017
Touch of colour raspberry cherry aftertaste good acidity
Beauregard Pinot Noir 2013 Santa Cruz Mountains
Red fruit sharp oak coconut stands out
Beauregard Pinot Noir 2015 Beauregard Ranch Ben Lomond Mountains
Red fruit forest floor savoury more complex perfume
Beauregard Zinfandel 2016 Beauregard Ranch Ben Lomond Mountains
Dark raisins dry fruit prunes oak chocolate coffee peppery
Beauregard Syrah 2014 Zayante Vineyards Santa Cruz mountain range
Dry farm organic Syrah
VA dark fruit pepper violet