The growing season of 2005 saw a return to more typical Monterey vintage weather – foggy mornings, warm days with temperatures not exceeding 85 degrees, and windswept cool afternoons and evenings. This proved quite a relief to our harvest crew who had been through two consecutive hellish vintages in 2003 and 2004, which finished with heat waves requiring non-stop picking. Heavy winter rains and cool weather in the early spring prompted a March bud break with slow vine growth until late spring. When set appeared in late May, we saw an abundance of baby clusters, but had little idea of the record vintage to come. The anticipated hot spell during harvest never materialized, and instead, ripening came gradually in 2005, which allowed us to pick each vineyard block at its optimum of flavor development and acidity. Harvest began on September 15th and concluded on October 17th. The combination of California Chardonnay clones (numbers 4 and 5) produced final harvest chemistries of 24.4 degrees Brix with 8.3 grams per liter of acid – an ideal balance of ripeness and acidity. The 2005 Riverstone Chardonnay exhibits the best that Monterey has to offer, enticing peach and citrus fruit character, toasty complexity from barrel fermentation, and refreshing acidity.
The 2005 vintage marks the nineteenth year of production of our J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay, from our vineyards in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County. Each year, starting in 1995, we have experimented with and have incorporated higher percentages of traditional Burgundian production techniques into Riverstone, until the desired complexity and end-results were achieved (reaching 60% in 2000). The result is a complex and nuanced Chardonnay with an abundance of Arroyo Seco fruit, with subtle barrel fermentation and malolactic character. The vines are grown primarily on Elder loam soils underlain by "riverstones" deposited over thousands of years from the Arroyo Seco River, allowing a four-foot rooting zone that keeps the vines' vegetative growth and fruit in balance. Additionally, the cool climate and winds of the Salinas Valley extend the growing season and retain the natural grape acids and intense varietal character of the Chardonnay.
J. Lohr Winery
Founded more than three decades ago by Jerry Lohr, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines crafts an array of acclaimed wines from estate grapes. Still guided by Jerry today, this pioneering estate vineyard program is comprised of almost 3,000 acres of vines in Monterey County, Paso Robles and Napa Valley. From this palette of world-class fruit, J. Lohr handcrafts three tiers of award-winning wines – J. Lohr Estates, J. Lohr Vineyard Series and J. Lohr Cuvée Series. In addition to its signature brands, J. Lohr offers numerous flavorful wines under the Cypress Vineyards, ARIEL (non-alcoholic) and Painter Bridge labels.
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The largest of California's wine growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of California's wine. The district sprawls out, covering most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Smaller sub-AVAs of the Central Coast include Monterey Bay, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and many others.
Grape varieties range from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Some Central Coast wine is generic, bulk wine that contributes to the high production numbers of the area. But many winemakers and wineries, particular in some of the smaller AVAs, are small production artisans, creating unique and high-quality wine. The great thing about the Central Coast is its diversity - you're able to find a number of grape varieties and styles at a number of different price points.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.