Mount Eden Vineyards is a small, historic wine estate located on a 2000 foot peak in the Santa Cruz Mountain Appellation, about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1945, it is recognized as one of the original boutique California Winery properties, focusing on small lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Mount Eden Vineyard has been continuously producing estate bottled Pinot Noir and Chardonnay longer than anyone else in California. Planted in austere, infertile Franciscan shale on a cool, exposed mountaintop, the low-yielding vineyards have consistently produced world class wines for over 50 years. Winemaker and Proprietor Jeffrey Patterson has been making wine at Mount Eden since 1981. His low yielding hillside vineyards are sustainable and dry farmed. Fermentation is done with native yeasts and fining and filtering is minimal if at all. The winery is completely solar powered.
James Laube on Mount Eden: “IS MOUNT EDEN CALIFORNIA’S GREATEST VINEYARD? Every time I have a great aged Mount Eden wine – which is most of the time – I’m in awe of how well it develops. This is a unique property in the sense that all three of the major grapes grown there – Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – not only are distinctive and classy, but they age incredibly well. Suppose if one were to only collect wine from one vineyard, Mount Eden would be a tough choice to beat.”
Eric Asimov on Mount Eden: “Mount Eden refuses to conform to the stylistic demands of today’s market, which emphasize power, lush fruit flavors and immediate gratification over nuance, minerality and balance. The cabernets are more sinewy and lean than rich and concentrated. The pinot noir, which is made in very small quantities, is light-bodied and graceful rather than sweet and plush. And, rather than flavors of oak, butterscotch, tropical fruit and popcorn, the Chardonnay offers captivating texture and subtle flavors wound around a core of lively acidity. It takes time to unravel, sometimes many years, which puts Mount Eden in the company of great historic California chardonnay producers like Stony Hill and Hanzell.”
Robert Parker on Mount Eden: “This iconic winery continues to offer wines with personalities and styles that set them apart (especially the estate wines) from just about anything else readers will taste from California.”
In the late 1940s and early 1960s, Martin Ray planted six acres of chardonnay vines propagated from a Burgundian selection grown in the original Paul Masson vineyard. We now farm 20 acres of estate chardonnay, from which we produce 1,200 to 2,000 cases per year. Yields average one to two tons per acre, far below the average for chardonnay in California.
Our Estate Chardonnay grapes are harvested when slightly yellow to yellow-green and are pressed without crushing. All of the juice is barrel-fermented in new and one year old French Burgundy barrels, where the wine undergoes full malolactic fermentation and is aged on the lees for ten months before being lightly filtered prior to bottling. The Chardonnay is then cellared for two years before being released for sale.
The full bodied Estate Chardonnay displays fine underlying acidity and a long finish. Hints of cardamom, anise and hazelnut add interest to the core lemon, mineral flavors. Of all Mount Eden’s estate-grown wines, the Chardonnay is most in need of further bottle aging at release, requiring an additional two to four years to fully reveal its true character. Many vintages are still fresh and enjoyable after fifteen years, explaining why Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay is considered one of California’s longest-lived white wines.