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Ridge, USA

Below are the details for Ridge, USA.

Winery Name: Ridge, USA
established 1940
Winemaker(s): Paul Draper
Other Details: Then, as now, friends and family join with winery workers to celebrate the completion of harvest at the 19th Century Monte Bello Winery.

VINEYARDS The 1959 vintage at Monte Bello, from vines on the "middle" vineyard purchased that year, convinced the founding partners that here was an exceptional match of climate, soil, and varietal. In the wine-producing world, these ideal sites represent only a small percent of the land planted to vineyard. Once a producer has identified a great site, it is essential to gain long-term control of it in order to maintain quality and consistency. In 1967 Ridge leased, and in 1988 purchased, the "upper" vineyard; in 1995 we obtained a twenty-seven-year lease on the "lower" vineyard (1300'-1990'), where cabernet was first planted in the 1880s. These vineyards, with their cool location and well-drained limestone sub-soils, produce some of the most distinctive, complex cabernet, merlot, and petit verdot in California, as well as small quantities of chardonnay. In Sonoma, our experience at Lytton Springs over the last three decades attests to yet another stunning combination of location and varietals. The major vineyards on lands owned by "Captain" William Litton in the 1870s were purchased by Ridge in the early 1990s. Over thirty-six consecutive vintages from Geyserville's old-vine zinfandel, carignane, and petite sirah have long since persuaded us that it, too, is one of these great sites. Pagani Ranch in Sonoma Valley, Dusi Ranch in Paso Robles, and York Creek on Spring Mountain in Napa are others that meet our stringent criteria.

HISTORY The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when 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. He terraced the slopes and planted vineyards; using native limestone, he constructed the Monte Bello Winery, 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', it is surrounded by the "upper vineyard." In the 1940s, William Short, a theologian, bought the abandoned winery and vineyard just below the Perrone property; he 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 was among 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 fifteen to forty-five acres. Working on weekends, they made wines of regional character and unprecedented intensity. By 1968, production had increased to just under three thousand cases per year, and in 1969, Paul Draper joined the partnership. A Stanford graduate in philosophy-recently returned from setting up a winery in Chile's coast range-he was a practical winemaker, not an enologist. 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. Cabernet and zinfandel account for most of the production; syrah, grenache, carignane, and petite sirah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of chardonnay since 1962.
Appellation(s) / Region(s): Sonoma
Website: Ridge
Contact Details / Location: Tel: (408) 867-3233
Fax: (408) 868-1350

Mail: 17100 Monte Bello Road, Cupertino, CA 95014
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