Ridge Vineyards | California
As one of the world's greatest vineyards and wineries, the history of Ridge Vineyards is one that is worth recounting in full. Osea Perrone, a doctor who became a prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in 1885. He terraced the slopes, planted vineyards and constructed the Monte Bello Winery using native limestone, producing the first vintage under that name in 1892. This unique cellar, built into the mountainside on three levels, is Ridge's production facility. At 2600 feet it is surrounded by the "upper vineyard."
In the 1940s, theologian William Short bought the abandoned winery and vineyard just below the Perrone property and replanted several parcels to Cabernet Sauvignon in the late 1940s. From these vines—now the "middle vineyard"—new owners Dave Bennion and his three partners, all Stanford Research Institute engineers, made a quarter-barrel of "estate" Cabernet. That Monte Bello Cabernet marked one of California's finest wines of the era. Its quality and distinctive character, and the wines produced from these same vines in 1960 and '61, convinced the partners to re-bond the winery in time for the 1962 vintage. The first Zinfandel was made in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard farther down the ridge. This was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville Zinfandel.
The founding families reclaimed the Monte Bello terraces, increasing vineyard size from 15 to 45 acres. Working on weekends, they made wines of regional character and unprecedented intensity. By 1968, production had increased to just under 3000 cases per year, just as Paul Draper joined the partnership in 1969. A Stanford graduate in philosophy—recently returned from setting up a winery in Chile's coast range—he was a practical winemaker, not an oenologist. His knowledge of fine wines and traditional methods complemented the straightforward "hands off" approach pioneered at Ridge. Under his guidance the old Perrone winery (acquired the previous year) was restored, the finest vineyard lands leased or purchased, the consistent quality and international reputation of the wines established. When the Ridge founders retired in 1986, they chose Mr. Akihiko Otsuka as the new owner. His understanding of, and commitment to, the values they had established assured that all would continue as before.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel account for most of the production, while Syrah, Grenache, Mataro, Carignane and Petite Sirah, amongst other varieties, constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited quantities of Chardonnay since 1962.
The wines and personalities behind them have received numerous accolades and marked many momentous occasions over the years. The dedication to producing the very highest quality and the respect for all the links in the wine selling chain has made Ridge Vineyards one of the World’s most respected and recognised wineries.
Most of the Ridge wines are sold on allocation but there are small quantities on reserve so please get in touch if you would like to secure some bottles!