Ridge winery has a long and interesting history. Initially purchased and planted by an Italian doctor in the 1880’s, Doctor Perrone named his winery Monte Bello and produced his first wine in 1892. The future must have looked rosy until Prohibition closed the winery in 192o when the property was abandoned.
In 1949 William Short plants Cabernet and Chardonnay on the abandoned vineyard land next to the Perrone property.
1959 brought four scientists onto the scene who formed an alliance (called it Ridge) bought Mr. Short’s land and produced their first vintage in 1962.
In 1968 Ridge purchased the old Monte Bello winery and a part of the original Perrone property and in 1969 Mister Paul Draper the now legendary winemaker joined the team. Turned out to be perfect storm because in 1976 at the now famous Judgement of Paris, Paul’s Monte Bello Cabernet placed 5th.
Paul Draper was instrumental in bringing single vineyard wines to light in North America and helped to bring Zinfandel back from obscurity along with a handful of other brave California wine makers who helped reveal the potential for Old Vine Zinfandel as a serious contender.
From then until now, Ridge have continued to purchase significant vineyards. They have continued to astonish with awards and recognition (you can learn more about that here: https://www.ridgewine.com/about/timeline).
In 2015 Decanter Magazine named Paul Draper one of the five most admired wine makers in a poll of his peers. But this year is the year that Mister Paul Draper retires as CEO and winemaker at Ridge. It must be a bittersweet time for them.
This year, I got to have lunch with Christina Donley from Ridge and Stacey Jo Strombecky their wonderful rep, to taste through a few of our favorites. We tasted:
Ridge Three Valleys Sonoma 2013 – 80% Zinfandel, 11% Carignan, 8% Petit Sirah, 1% Alicante Bouschet – Perfect mid ruby. Pretty floral nose, stemmy notes of creme caramel. Lush velvet attack of blackberry and red currant. Lovely and expressive. Wonderful long velvet finish. +716609 $$
Ridge East Bench Zinfandel 2013 – 100% Zinfandel from next door to Lytton Springs…older clay loam soils rich in iron – Big ruby purple hue. Tart nose of fresh carrot, wild cherry, gooseberry, tobacco and dirt. Lean tart attack of fresh bright fruit, more wild cherry, chewy tannin that takes over your back teeth. Spicy aftertaste. Certified Organic. +653451 $$
Ridge Geyserville 2013 – 73% Zinfandel, 17% Carignan, 9% Petite Sirah, 1% Mataro – Dark mid ruby purple. Plush tart black fruit nose. Meaty attack of soft dark fruit with silk velvet smooth tannin and rosy fruit. We call it the “anti Zin”. ❤ +426379 $$
Ridge Lytton Springs 2012 – 70% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignan, 3% Mataro from Dry Creek Valley – Softly stemmy floral nose of snap-dragon. Wonderfully elegant attack of lean fruit twirling on a pretty carousel of floral notes. ❤ +513929 $$
We had a wonderful lunch in good company at Canteen with dishes that only accentuated the elegant and expressive nature of these wines and as usual, words just can’t do the time justice. For me, it’s always a privilege and a pleasure to drink Ridge wines. It takes me back to the magical mysterious days when I first fell in love.
If you’re tempted, you can find Ridge’s Three Valleys, East Bench and Geyserville wines at Sherbrooke Liquor on the top shelf of our American section.