Ridge 2019 Monte Bello Futures

Just received the email with my allocation of 6 bottles. As usual every year, I have to work up the fortitude to order as the price again has gone up almost 7% to $141.

Ridge and Ch Montelena are the only two lists I’m still active with. Every year as I get older, now 59, I’m wondering if I’ll live long enough to enjoy. Ughhh.

I order 375’s for that reason…


Notes from Eric sound promising. So sad we didn’t get to attend the assemblage event which is always one of the highlights of the year…

2019 Monte Bello Futures Offering
Vintage: 2019
Charge Date: April 14, 2020
Ship Date: March 2022
Availability: Open

Following the dry winter of 2018, the heavy rains of 2019 were welcome. A moderately strong El Nino formed in the eastern Pacific, which intensified storms and directed their energy at California. Monte Bello received sixty-five inches of rain for the season, twice our average amount. It rained often, but not torrentially as the weather systems moved through. It allowed for good absorption into the subsoil, avoiding erosion while replenishing underground water reserves. Once spring arrived, there was an explosive growth of grass and cover-crop that helped with drawing excess water out of the ground. This was followed by frequent mowing, which prevented nutrients from being pulled away from the vines. Our Sonoma County vineyards received a larger amount of rain than did Monte Bello. The ground was saturated with water through late spring. Having great drainage in these vineyards was essential for inducing water stress later in the growing season.

Once summer arrived, it brought several lengthy heatwaves between June and July. This accelerated the growing season and energized the vines into extending their shoots and filling out canopies, growing inches by the day. For most vineyards, flowering occurred during calm weather. Clusters were full and abundant. The merlot parcels at Monte Bello were the only ones that got caught by bad weather during bloom. Their clusters had a lot of shatter resulting in great concentration but unusually low yields. Throughout August and September, despite bursts of heat, cold foggy weather slowed ripening. Our first bordeaux parcel was picked on September 27, which were the young vines planted in 2017 at Rousten. On the 28th, we went to the top of Monte Bello to Lone Oak’s young cabernet vines and harvested. Over the next three weeks, and with help from our Sonoma vineyard crew, we brought in the rest of Monte Bello. Fortunately, the weather held; neither rain or heat waves affected the vintage.

For the second year in a row, fermentations were slow and brought worry, but in the end, all the tanks went dry and produced outstanding wine quality. Our only wish would have been for more merlot, which stood out as the shining star of the vintage. There were so many excellent lots to choose from to make 2019 Monte Bello. We conducted the two-day tasting for assemblage on February 5-6. We started with blind-tasting twenty-eight lots and scored. The clear winners of the component tasting were assembled to make the core blend. The next day, a series of two glass tastings reviewed further additions to the core blend. With nine tasters from the vineyard and production teams, we each had our own unique take on the character and taste of Monte Bello as we judged and scored. Surprisingly, given diversity of tasters, a consensus was reached on each flight. We proceeded tasting seven flights this way, though, at the time, we did not reveal what glass had the addition from the previous flights. This information was guarded until the last glass was tasted and confirmed with the recent vintages of Monte Bello. Once that was done, the information about the seven in-and-out flights was revealed. It was magnificent results, additions in all seven flights had made it into the blend. We have never had an assemblage go this smooth, especially without bringing any influence to what we were tasting as we proceeded in each flight. Our focus was on promoting Monte Bello quality over quantity.

Our first assemblage is a wine with tremendous depth and complexity, showing great balance, with rich tannins that are coated in dark mountain fruit. The cold nights during this growing season helped maintain firm acid. Natural malolactic fermentation has helped bring acidity into balance, yet it remains lively and fresh. This vintage has great potential for aging, but it is also sensuous and delicious right now. A second assemblage will be done in May, to consider an additional eight lots of cabernet and whether they will further elevate quality and complexity. —Eric Baugher, February 11, 2020

Wow, my allocation is, and always has been, only two bottles!

I am also a fan of the 375 option

Have you asked for/do you want more? When I asked for a coupleextra 375s last year, they said Yes. And the wording on the offer this year says:
Allocation increases are allowed up to a maximum of six bottles (4.5L)

Give it a shot?


In for six once again. I think 2006 was my first year. Not sure if I’ve ever opened one that I bought off the list. Maybe this year…

2017 was my last vintage, and I wonder if I’ll end up drinking them in prime time (theirs or mine)

Here’s what the prices were for past releases:

2011 $90
2012 $95
2013 $98
2014 $105
2015 $110
2016 $115
2017 $124
2018 $132

The prices are starting to get rather steep for me.

I’m also in the 375s camp. Wonder if any of us will have a chance to taste an assemblage of the '19. With SIP until May 1 in the Bay Area, all April events at Ridge have been cancelled.

I’m really excited to be able to increase my allocation for the first time in years. Maybe since the 2014 release?

Also have an allocation of 4 bottles with ability add (ask?) for up to 6 (4.5L). What’s the feeling on how this vintage will compare? Thinking I will probably ask for the additional 2 but also considering the 375s. Thinking maybe 5 and 2 which would allow me to open up a couple of the small ones over the next 10 years without feeling too guilty.

these are starting to get a little close to market price for some years. all sounds like 2019 will be a pretty good year and the initial assemblage note sounds good… but I do wonder at what point the futures isn’t worth it?

I’d guess they still allot in increments of 2 x 750ml equivalent. I’ve been doing 4 x 375 and 4 x 750 for quite awhile.

I bailed on my 750s this morning. I’m 375s only going forward.

Like Gerry I’m 59.

Demand is high. Market prices have gone way up. Yes, the gap has closed, so it may be sort of a push some years. For us locals who take take advantage of all their benefits it’s still easily worth it. For those who aren’t local, considerations would be if you ever visit, if you want access to some of their smaller production wines, membership discount…

yeah those extra benefits would be nice. I guess I am kind of hoping to do a Ridge visit next spring… maybe ill be able to make it to next year’s assemblage tasting. that would be a worthwhile thing for sure

I think it depends on what part of the country you’re in. The Monte Bello bottling is very hard to find in TX, and if you do find it it’ll be $200+
I’ve never seen 375’s or 1.5’s in the wild.

I’m more looking at what I can find available from a place like Benchmark right now, which has '15 for 190, '14 for 173, '11 for 185… but granted most vintages are still listed over $200.

I reduced my allocation today from 4 to 2 750’s. It hurt. The only reason is that I greatly prefer Ridges with 20 years of age and I’m 61. Cutting down wine buying for this reason, I have seen this said before, hits one hard with mortality.

Starting today I’ll drink what I have from now on, with the exception of buying eleven bottles of Cabernet a year including two MB’s (and maybe four bottles a year of Champagne). Starting now with this MB reduction. The wine experience changes greatly when one does not taste wine with a view as to possibly buying it; it removes a lot of the interest in trying new, young, wines at an offline or visiting a winery. I’ll always love trying an older wine at its 20-plus year old peak.

I have enough older non-MB Ridges, and in general older bottles, to resist backfilling at auctions, but searching for that one 1993 burg on Wine-searcher sure was fun.

This resolve will probably last until the weekend LOL. But at the moment I mean it.

As for 375’s, I’d rather decant a 750 of a young wine and drink it over two or three days, following what air does to it, than drink a young 375. I’m increasingly humbled by what two hours air does to all wines young and old, I’ve wasted so many bottles by popping and pouring.