A Balanced Approach to Wine – and to Life


If there has been a movement in California away from buttery, tropical-sweet Chardonnay and over-ripe, high-octane  Cabernet, surely one of the leaders is David Ramey. Located in picturesque Healdsburg, Ramey Cellars is a craft-winery that produces startlingly fresh and balanced Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Many of Ramey’s wines express the terroir of single vineyards while others are specific to such appellations as the Sonoma Coast or Russian River Valley. With his master’s degree in enology from UC Davis, one might have expected Ramey’s wines to be faultless and squeeky-clean; however, an early internship at Chateau Petrus imbued him with the belief that wines should be restrained, balanced and crafted to accompany food. This combination of the empirical and the romantic (along with almost 20 years of experience at such wineries as Simi, Matanzas Creek and Dominus) has led him to experiment with indigenous yeasts and malolactic and barrel fermentation in search of a new California style. This style seeks to tame the naturally luscious and vivacious fruit of California with the traditional techniques of the Old World. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, novelist (and wine geek) Jay McInerny has described “his Chardonnays just a little more voluptuous than the average Puligny-Montrachet, his cabs less tannic than the typical Médoc.”

Wine Maker

David Ramey





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Wines from this Winery

RAMEY Chardonnay Fort Ross-Seaview | Sonoma Coast

Located near the far north-western edge of Sonoma County, the tiny Fort Ross - Seaview AVA was established in 2012 in order to acknowledge the unique terroir of vineyards planted but a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean. Cooler temperatures and heavier rainfall as well as thick fogs meant that wine growers did not begin planting here before the 1980s. Even now, acreage in the AVA totals less than 600 acres. However, the wines produced from vineyards planted on ridges at elevations from 300 - 900 meters have acidity, lightness of touch, and bright flavors we associate with fine Burgundy. Sourced from the high-elevation Martinelli Charles Ranch vineyard, this Chardonnay shows great depth of flavor, length of finish, aromatic complexity, and a fine balance between richness and delicacy. David Ramey ferments the grapes in barrel on natural yeasts and ages the wine in mainly neutral French oak casks. Jeb Dunnuck described the wine as “vibrant with saline, oceanic minerality, lemon pith, and tarragon. The palate is curvy but focused, with green apple, Meyer lemon, delicate oak spice, and mouthwatering acidity.”

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¥8,800 (incl. tax)
RAMEY Chardonnay Russian River Valley

With its foggy summer mornings and warm afternoons, the Russian River Valley provides a sweet spot for Burgundian varietals. RRV Chardonnays may be richer and more opulent than the lean and racy styles produced along the coast but more structured and refreshing than those from warmer appellations inland. Diverse soils and subtle differences in elevation also contribute to the complexity of Ramey’s RRV Chardonnay. The 2021 vintage was sourced from several special vineyards in the region and made with native yeast fermentation, malolactic fermentation in barrel, and bottling without filtration. The Wine Spectator described the wine as offering, “mouthwatering lemon curd, lime blossom and mandarin orange flavors that show notes of fresh-grated ginger and lemon verbena. Sea salt minerality gains momentum on the finish, where grace notes of toasted green tea, citrus zest, and white pepper linger.”

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¥9,790 (incl. tax)
RAMEY Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard

Located on the Eastside Road in Forestville – northwest of Santa Rosa – the Ritchie Vineyard has been called a Californian Grand Cru. Planted in 1972, the gnarled vines produce just a few clusters of highly concentrated fruit in a cool microclimate that ensures good acidity. Most of the vines are of the Old Wente clone, which provides structure and acidity, but a small portion of Musqué adds an aromatic floral lift. Ramey’s Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay is outstanding, a multidimensional wine that combines intense fruit with the mineral elegance of a white Burgundy. The Wine Spectator described the 2019 as a “stunning white wine, with plenty of power and balance to the mix of details, including lemon curd, Fuji apple, mandarin orange and a hint of ripe Crenshaw melon. Offers accents of white tea, fresh clipped herbs and creamy salted butter that are seamlessly integrated with firm acidity.” Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay will pair well with fresh crab or chicken with a mushroom sauce.

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¥15,180 (incl. tax)
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RAMEY Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard

Located in Carneros, the Hyde Vineyard is cooled by marine air that flows through the Petaluma Gap. Nevertheless, Ramey's Carneros Chardonnays are a little rounder and broader than those from Sonoma. Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay never fails to charm with freshness, restrained energy, minerality, and depth. The complexity of this Chardonnay derives from the vines that range in age from 11 - 30 years old as well as in clonal diversity. 65% of the fruit is Old Wente field selection planted in 1997. This clone is known for its Burgundian character that tones down the tropical fruit notes. Ramey’s efforts here are highly recognized. The 2019 made #7 on the Wine Spectator’s top 100, and the 2020 received 100 points from the Wine Enthusiast!

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¥19,580 (incl. tax)
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RAMEY Chardonnay Rochioli Vineyard

The Rochioli vineyard is located in the Middle Reach section of the Russian River Valley just southwest of Healdsburg. With the river nearby, the vineyard thrives in the foggy mornings and sunny afternoons throughout the growing season. The partnership between Ramey Cellars and Rochioli Vineyards is one between neighbors dedicated to growing and making world class Chardonnay. The Rochioli family still lives on the estate, and the vineyard blocks farmed by David Ramey were planted between 15 and 25 years ago to a variety of clones. The stunning 2020 iwas awarded 100 points by the Wine Enthusiast. Jeb Dunnuck calls it “one of those wines that’s both powerful and elegant, with medium to full body, a great mid-palate, integrated acidity, and just everything in the right places. It’s a beautiful, layered, age-worthy Chardonnay to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years.”

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¥19,580 (incl. tax)
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RAMEY Syrah Sonoma Coast

The Sonoma Coast has earned a great reputation for Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir; turns out it’s an outstanding terroir for Syrah as well. The cool climate at Ramey’s two Syrah vineyards, Cole and Rodgers Creek, allows the fruit to develop notes of green olive, smoked meat, white pepper and savory herbs — much like the classic wines of the Northern Rhone. And taking the Rhone model a step further, these vineyards each have a few rows of Viognier, which is co-fermented with the red fruit, adding more complexity and perfume to the wine. In 2019, Viognier made up 13% of the blend. If you can lay down a few bottles of this delicious wine, it should develop well over the next 8 - 12 years.

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¥8,470 (incl. tax)

North Coast Claret is a Bordeaux blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 9% Syrah, and 2% Petit Verdot that is sourced from a range of appellations in Sonoma and Napa counties. Released earlier than reserve wines, it provides an introduction to the 2018 vintage, which many saw as a return to normal after a few drought years. Cooler autumn temperatures led to a later start to the harvest and produced excellent fruit. Jeb Dunnuck said the wine was “fresh with aromas of graphitic earth and red plum, and the palate reveals fine tannins and the juicy, youthful appeal of red apple and crushed roses. This is ready and inviting to drink now or over the next 3-6 years.” The affordable price makes trying a bottle easy! This wine will pair well with steak, slow-braised beef or even a chilli con carne.  

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¥9,240 (incl. tax)
RAMEY Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

As he does so well with Chardonnay, David Ramey hits a sweet spot with Pinot Noir, crafting a wine that marries perfume and acidity with a rich texture. The wine was sourced from five top vineyards planted to a variety of clones located along the Westside Road, a bucolic country lane of vineyards and dairy farms as well as “A-List” producers of Pinot Noir. While it’s a bit warmer here than in the hills closer to the ocean, foggy mornings keep the grapes from ripening too quickly. The 2018 season was exemplary with a cooler late summer that extended the time fruit spent on the vine, making for a more complex palette of flavors. At harvest, 25% of the fruit was processed as whole clusters, which adds savory spice to the nose and structure to the palate. Winemaking is kept simple with native yeast fermentation in tank, lees aging in barrel, and bottling with light fining and no filtration.

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¥10,450 (incl. tax)
RAMEY Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

By sourcing fruit from both hillside and valley floor vineyards, David Ramey produces a layered and complex expression of Napa Valley Cabernet. Modeled on the Grand Crus of Bordeaux, the wine combines Cabernet (80%), Merlot (10%), Petit Verdot (7%) and Cabernet Franc (3%) into a complex and savory blend. The 2017 spent a lengthy 30 months in barrel; however, sur lie aging and battonage (lees stirring) allowed the oak to give the wine structure without imparting additional flavor. While the fruit is naturally flavorful and voluptuous, as the wine opens up, it reveals layers of dark fruit, spice and earthy notes. This wine can be enjoyed now or savored over the next ten years. Suggested pairings might include steak au poivre, lamb ragout with roasted peppers, or, for vegetarians, baked eggplant with mushrooms and tomato sauce.

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¥14,300 (incl. tax)
RAMEY Cabernet Sauvignon Pedregal Vineyard

In Spanish, a Pedregal is a “rocky place,” and this vineyard, located in the lower hills to the east of Oakville, is one of rocky outcrops and red, iron-rich soils that routinely produce wine with intense flavors and extraordinary texture. Because the site produces such outstanding Cabernet, Ramey Cellars has a long-term lease that gives them complete control of the farming, which they carry out organically and sustainably. A warm spring in 2015 led to an early bud break, but cooler temperatures in the summer kept the fruit from ripening too quickly. The crop was smaller than usual, yielding bunches with small but highly concentrated berries. Co-fermenting the Cabernet fruit with 11% Petite Verdot, aging on the fine lees in French oak for nearly two years results in a classically made wine with the Bordeaux elements of grippy tannins and subtle aromas of cedar, pencil shavings and dried herbs. 

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¥39,600 (incl. tax)