“One of the Most Dramatic Vineyards in the Entire State.”
In the 1930s, famed engineer and pilot William Hawley Bowlus, whose pioneering Albatross sailplanes are in
the Smithsonian, used to fly gliders off the ridges of Monterey’s Carmel Coast. Decades later, his grandson and
great-grandson, Brad and Garrett Bowlus, unknowingly came to the same mountain slopes to establish a
vineyard. Researching the history of Monterey, they found a photo of Hawley Bowlus launching his Albatross
sailplane off the same high mountain slopes where they found their vineyard site.
The vineyard is located just seven miles from the Pacific Ocean and overlooks Carmel Bay in the distance with
elevations reaching up to 1,250 feet. What drew them to the vineyard site initially was the very mild
temperatures (normal daytime highs averaging between 65-75 degrees) and the low-vigor, uplifted rocky
diatomaceous seabed, limestone and shale soils, similar to those found in Burgundy, ideal for growing Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay. Annual growing days between 1650 and 1950 GDD make this vineyard one of the
coolest sites to ripen Pinot Noir and Chardonnay anywhere in the world.
Winemaking is headed up by Garrett Bowlus Pinot Noir vinification includes 20%-30% whole cluster and native
yeast fermentations. Aging is in 30%-50% new French oak and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Chardonnays undergo whole cluster pressing, native fermentation sur lees in concrete with no stirring or
racking and full native malolactic fermentation. 50% aged 12 months in French oak barrels (25% new) and
50% aged 12 months in a total concrete vertical tank.
Case production has increased from 1,000 cases to over 4,000 cases currently. In the fall of 2019, production
began in a new winery in Marina, California. A tasting room is located in Carmel-By-The-Sea and a second
tasting room was slated to open in Carmel Village in early summer of 2020. Albatross Ridge wines are
available on the winery’s website at www.albatrossridge.com.
2018 Albatross Ridge Cuvée Vivienne Carmel Valley Monterey Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.68, 600 cases,
$45. This bottling is named after the winemaker’s daughter and was sourced from 8 blocks of the estate
vineyard. Clones “828,” Pommard, 115 and 777 yielding 1.55 tons per acre. Harvest Bris 21.5º-23.7º. 20%
whole cluster. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 30% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
garnet color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of cherry, rose petal and the slightest oak. A satisfying
wine with up front appeal in a mid weight style featuring black cherry and purple berry flavors with a hint of
smokiness in the background. Nicely balanced, with fine-grain tannins and a credible finish.
2018 Albatross Ridge Estate Reserve Carmel Valley Monterey Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.65, 600 cases,
$68. A barrel selection of the finest barrels of the vintage. Clones “929,” Pommard, 115 and 777 picked at 1.55
tons per acre. Harvest Brix 22.5º-23.5. 30% whole cluster. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels, 40% new.
Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Dark garnet color in the glass. Reserved but pleasant aromas of cherry,
blueberry, spice and rose petal. A bold, mid-weight plus style that floods the mouth with black cherry and black
raspberry goodness. Satiny in texture with gracious tannins and an appealing compliment of oak. A fruit-driven
wine showing excellent harmony.
2017 Albatross Ridge Estate Reserve Carmel Valley Monterey Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.50, $68. Clones “828,”
Pommard, 115 and 777 harvested at 1.25 tons per acre and a
harvest Brix of 21.0-23.5º. 20% whole cluster. Aged 19 months
in French oak barrels, 33% new. Bottled unfined and
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Uplifting aromas
of dark cherry, dried herbs and oak vanillin. An intensely fruity
wine in a mid-weight plus style that features a vibrant core of
black cherry and blackberry fruit. Juicy, with tame tannins and
fruit that really clings to the feature. Still fine when tasted the
following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.
Nothing but good things to say.
2017 Albatross Ridge First Flight Carmel Valley Monterey Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., pH 3.52, 100 cases,
$115. Clones “828,” and Pommard harvested at 1.25 tons per acre. Harvest Brix 22.0º-23.5º. 30% whole
cluster. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of
dark cherry, underbrush, vanilla and campfire embers. A sappy wine with waves of black cherry and blackberry
fruit with a whack of smoky, herbal oak in the background. The wine does have a congenial mouthfeel and
some length on the finish, but I wish for more Pinot than oak perfume.
2018 Albatross Ridge Estate Carmel Valley Monterey Chardonnay
13.0% alc., pH 3.23, 450 cases, $68.
Clones 96 and 15 harvested at 1.53 tons per acre and a harvest Brix of 20.0º-23.5º.
Moderate golden yellow
color in the glass. Subdued aromas of lemongrass, bruised apple, straw and wet oak. Slightly viscous in the
mouth offering flavors of lemon and yellow peach. There is some persistence on the finish, but overall the wine
lacks inspiration and crispness.
2017 Albatross Ridge First Flight Carmel Valley Chardonnay
13.0% alc., pH 3.20, $95. Clones
96 and 15 harvested at 1 ton per acre and a harvest Brix of 23.3º. Aged 16 months in 90% new
French oak barrels and 10% in a concrete vertical tank.
Light golden yellow color in the glass.
Engaging aromas of lemon curd, wildflower honey, moist ocean air, vanilla and a hint of matchstick.
Bright flavors of lemon-lime and pineapple with a gentle overcoat of oak. Delicious fruit flavors
paired with mouthwatering acidity and judicious oak in the background. This beauty literally dances
on the palate.