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Chardonnay ‘Highland’ Santa Lucia Highlands
United States, California, Santa Lucia Highlands
Dan Morgan Lee got the wine "bug" while pursuing a veterinary degree at UC Davis. After completing his graduate studies in enology, he accepted a winemaker position at Jekel Vineyards, a brand new winery in Monterey County -- then a relatively unknown grape growing area. His intent was to stay long enough to bolster his resume, then head north to Napa or Sonoma. Fast forward three decades: Morgan Winery, which Dan and his wife Donna founded in 1982, is now mentioned alongside the pioneering growers and producers who saw the potential of Monterey County long before the world recognized it as one of the top sites Burgundy varieties in California.
After serving his "apprenticeship" at Jekel, Dan aspired to craft his own label. He shared this vision with a banker he met at a trade association luncheon. In addition to becoming his business advisor, that banker would also become Dan's wife. In 1982, Dan and Donna purchased their first grapes and barrels and started Morgan Winery in a small, leased facility. Both kept their "day jobs" for a number of years. Morgan earned early acclaim, and over the years became one of the Central Coast's most recognized labels. After sourcing grapes from other vineyards for 15 years, Dan & Donna invested in their belief in the Santa Lucia Highlands with the purchase of a 65 acre property in 1996. The vineyard was developed and named "Double L" ("Double Luck" in honor of the couple's twin daughters). Now considered one of the best know vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, Double L is certified sustainable and organic.
The 65 acre property of Morgan Winery is on a southeastern facing "bench" of the Santa Lucia mountain range, sloping from 150" to 550' elevation and the vines are 18 years old on average. Prior to purchase in 1996, the ranch was used for cattle grazing and row crop production (sugar beets, dry beans). At the time of purchase, the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA had very recently been established and was relatively unknown. The soils on the ranch were weak, depleted of nutrients; Dan's interest in responsible farming led to the Double L's organic certification in 2001. The vineyard now holds both sustainability and organic certifications
The soil is comprised of Chualar & Arroyo Seco loams.
Grapes are a combination of estate and sourced fruit, grown on slopes of 150m-550m in elevation with a Southeast facing exposition. The vines are VSP trained and are 20 years old on average. Harvest takes place by hand with an average yield of 3 tons/acre.
After harvest, the grapes undergo a direct press and the juice is transferred to barrels for fermentation. A blend of 50% selected yeast and 50% ambient yeast is used to begin the fermentation process, which will last about 15 days. 100% of the juice is fermented with the lees, but just 75% goes through malolactic fermentation. Total Sulfite count is 32 mg/L. Light filtration takes place prior to aging.
The wine is aged for 8 months in 60-gallon French oak barrels. Then, the wine ages for 4-10 more months in bottle prior to release.
Aromas of Meyer lemon, honeysuckle, and apricot. On the palate, the rich fruit flavors are complemented by a light touch of pineapple and nilla wafer.