Vintage for Santa Cuz Mountains

Hi all,
Can anyone provide comments for the Santa Cruz Mountains vintages on Pinot Noir?
No matter where I looked it seems all published are taking about Sonoma when I look for Nor Cal Pintos …

Can anyone provide some personal comments please?
As right now I have 2017, 2019,2020, 2021 in front of me to purchase and I wish to know the aging potential and the quality among them… These 4 vintages has special meaning for me and I’d like to know where I can allocate my money wisely…and no, buying them all isn’t really an option…
Thank you so much

I think all those vintages are strong, with the exception of 2020 due to the massive fires.

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2021 jump on Rhys

alpine hillside

for a start i would not call any of these early drinkers but they are real fine


How about 2017? I am tempting to pull the trigger on the 2017 Rhys…

definitely skip 20 terrible and 19 average year 18 another wonderful year i have 17 and just started drinking them with a short decant very good

for 2021 look at hilt and chanin and dragonette - and a few people source sanford an Benedict good vines

cotiere has been recommended to me but have not tasted myself

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sorry some of those are santa rita stick with rhys ceritas may be santa cruz my cali geo is not that great

No worries, your comments are really helpful!! Thank you!

17 is considered a strong vintage in Santa Cruz. The ‘17s I’ve had (cabs only) agree with that.

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2017 Mount Eden Pinot Noir is outstanding IMO.

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Here are a few of my thoughts:
2014 - Initially structured, fresh and middleweight, I love these now
2015 - a small, uneven and concentrated vintage. I have trouble forgiving it for the “small” part
2016 - A gorgeous vintage that was always charming. Overlooked because it didn’t trade on power as much as some but a personal favorite
2017 - A forward, delicious ripe vintage. I would drink these while waiting for others
2018 - A real “wow” vintage that showed incredible power, finesse and complexity before shutting down hard (at least our wines did). needs time
2019 - Much like 2016, this is a very beautiful vintage that has always showed well. Another personal favorite. In particular I love 2019 Horseshoe PN
2020 - Skip
2021 - A muscular, deep vintage with loads of personality and site expression. It will be interesting to see if it shuts down like 2018 (it hasn’t yet).


Thank you so much Kevin!

One of the reason I am asking was because I came across multiple vintage of Rhys…and unfortunately my wallet or cellar space does not allow me to procure them all…

really appreciate your insight and I am looking forward to try some of the highly recommended vintages…

'20s from Corralitos are fine. From the fire affected area, I don’t know if anything was picked. I did have a “skip” that was probably a panic pick. It’s probably easiest to skip, but what producer’s '20 are you looking at?

Prior to that, 2004 was on the weak side.

As I stated above, I am interested primarily in Rhys, and ceritas second…

I did purchase 2 bottles of 2020 Ridge Santa Cruz PN as it was part of my membership shipment, however I found it pretty disappointing…

Yeah, they started sourcing that second rate Pinot vineyard in 2018. The '18 sucked, the '19 was better, not a surprise the '20 sucks. There are at least 80 better SCM Pinots. We found out why: They planted some on Montebello, so wanted to learn. Not sure what they’re learning, since they seem to be treating it like Zinfandel. They’re in the best Pinot region outside of Burgundy. They could literally invite any number of people up to give them advice for free, or spend a few hundred dollars to have a local assistant winemaker or vineyard manager or something to consult. But, no. They taste like something an inexperienced home winemaker would make.

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Sadly those PN do cost…

I am not aware of PN planted on Monte Bello…they still have space for additional new vineyard?? I thought they already used up all the useful land for Bordeaux varietals, chardonnay, and zinfandel…

that being said, I learned that they are discontinuing the PN, and 2021 being their last vintage. Despite the tasting room staff told me they wish to concentrate on their time on Cabernet and Zin, I really is guessing the market feedback is poor that leads to the decision…

I don’t blame Ridge for concentrating on Cab and Zin, but the few times I’ve had their Chardonnays (Estate and Monte Bello) I’ve found them excellent.


yeah I do think they made great chardonnay. Forgot to mention…
However the QPR isn’t that great compared to some other SCM producers…

The land up the ridge line was widely planted, starting in the 1880s, up until Prohibition. What’s planted now is a small fraction of that. There are several vineyards other than theirs up there, and some other wineries. There are land use restrictions, and their ethics, so they aren’t going to tear out forested areas to plant. But, replanting former vineyard land is open. They own some of their sites. Others are long-term lease from property owners. Some years ago they did a land swap deal with open space, trading land that shouldn’t be developed for land that had been vineyard. There is newer planting.

I wouldn’t expect tasting room staff to know some tight-lipped info. Them ceasing the Corralitos Pinot isn’t a secret. Having estate Pinot is. I guess we’ll have to see if they stick with the plan or if they decided to graft the Pinot to something else. A little side information from a long ago conversation is Jeffrey Patterson long wanted to make Montebello Pinot. There would be so many possibilities with that nugget. Then, Ridge interns tend to come from overseas or have overseas experience. It would be a fair assumption they have people with experience in Burgundy and New Zealand in house they could utilize, trial, potentially promote. There’s all the neighboring expertise, a very cooperative local viticultural association, and so forth. As someone who works with quite a few bay Area Pinot producers, I could write up a very long list of people who’d be thrilled to get a call from Ridge, come up and visit the Pinot block, taste some barrel samples and dispense invaluable free advice. There’s just so much cooperation, cross-pollinating, networking in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Bay Area urban winery communities, it’s kind of nuts to me to see someone who clearly needs help feeling they are above that and not utilizing it.

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thank you for the comment…
I’d love to see monte bello PN in the quality level of rest of the estate…(not shooting star hoping it be came next monte bello)
however I am afraid if they actually did have that pull off, they will be selling monte bello PN that has right on/slightly better average quality sells on premium price…just because of the name.