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In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the first Monte Bello vineyards were planted, and winery construction begun. A first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892. During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; some vines survived into the late 30s, 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 Bello (1962) and subsequent vintages until 1974 when younger blocks replanted in the 1960s were considered for inclusion. Since then, the historic vineyards on the ridge have gradually been replanted.
The Monte Bello (originally Monte Bello Cabernet; until 1975, 100% cabernet) is the wine that introduced Ridge to the world, and the world to Ridge. Today it is a blend of bordeaux varietals in which cabernet sauvignon still predominates. Exhaustive tasting of test blends during assemblage determines how much — if any — merlot, petit verdot, or cabernet franc will be included in the finished wine. Almost every vintage (an unbroken chain from '62 on) has something substantive to recommend it. Each decade has its high points, but year after year Monte Bello proves to be a consistently outstanding wine. There's structure, there's complexity, there's balance. And it develops for a long, long time.
The vineyards are grown organically.
Ridge wine is made with an emphasis on quality and naturalness that is rarely attempted. Our grapes are grown in select vineyards (usually identified on the label), where they are left to ripen to peak maturity, often at some loss of quantity. We let the wine settle and age in small barrels, with only rare cellar treatment other than racking. Varieties are not blended unless so indicated on the label. Near Black Mountain on Monte Bello Ridge, our main vineyard is 10 miles south of Palo Alto, 15 miles inland from the ocean, and over 2000 feet in elevation.
BLEND: 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot
VINTAGE 1975 REPORT: The cool growing season of 1975 was just long enough to ripen an excellent crop. As with virtually all our wines of the vintage, this Cabernet is more elegant and more immediately accessible than the ‘74s. Its fine claret style combines the intense varietal fruit of our vineyards on the Ridge with the oak of small cooperage aging. To approach maturity it should be given at least five years of bottle age.