2016 Castle Rock Central Coast Chardonnay


Producing low-priced wine is not difficult in California – as long as one uses undistinguished central valley grapes. Yet Castle Rock Winery sells premium, handcrafted wines from the best appellations in California, Oregon and Washington at prices that match those wines labeled “California.” Castle Rock Winery’s secret to providing “appellation wines at affordable prices” is to operate as a kind of “virtual winery,” owning neither its own vineyards nor a winery. Instead it maintains close, long-term relationships with around forty growers in such areas as Monterey County, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Willamette Valley and Colombia Valley and leases state-of-the-art winemaking facilities in all three states. Winemaker August "Joe" Briggs works closely with the growers to ensure they produce the best quality fruit while overseeing the winemaking at the same time. This unique method of operating allows Castle Rock to avoid the “money pits” of land and fancy buildings that sink many wineries and focus everything on securing the best grapes and crafting delicious wines. Since the beginning in 1994, Castle Rock has focused particularly on Pinot Noir, making distinct bottlings from such key Pinot districts as Carneros, Russian River Valley and Willamette Valley. However, over the years the winery has also branched out into other popular varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Riesling. Though an oft-repeated wine country adage goes, “it takes a fortune to make a small fortune in the wine business,” Castle Rock Winery has shown there is a way to make captivating wines for the discerning drinker without deep pockets. 


The grapes for this enticing Chardonnay were sourced from excellent vineyards located up and down the Central Coast, a region characterized by a perfect combination of sunshine, fog and ocean breezes. It’s conditions such as these that produce Chardonnay that balances intense flavor with bright acidity. In 2016, the Central Coast saw a warm spring and early summer but cooler temperatures (especially at night) in August and September. Harvest arrived early, yields were moderate and quality was high. Rich, ripe and fruity, this Chardonnay will pair well with fish, poultry and lightly sauced entrees.


Fermentation and aging were carried out primarily in stainless steel tanks, with a small amount of the wine seeing some time in older barrels.

Tasting notes

87 points (“Best Value”) – Wine Spectator; 85 points (“Best Buy”) – Wine Enthusiast. Flavors of pear, honeydew melon and and citrus are spiced up with notes of oak and vanilla that lead into a balanced finish.


Central Coast






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