The history of Ridge Vineyards is the history of one of the world's great vineyards and wines and is worth recounting in full. 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 BelloWinery, 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. 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 and Zinfandel account for most of the production; SyrahGrenacheCarignane, and Petite Sirah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of Chardonnay since 1962.
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.
Grapes destemmed, and 20% sorted by mistral equipment. 100% whole berry fermentation with native yeasts. Pressed after 5 days. Natural malolactic fermentation is initiated in the tank. Finished in barrel with additional 18 weeks' lees contact. Aged for 20 months in American oak barrels.
Ruby-tinged opaque purple. Ripe blackberry, cassis, violets, espresso, dark chocolate and caramelised sugar. Concentrated briar fruit, with a full body and chalky tannins. Layers of liquorice, cola and sweet oak. Complex limestone/mineral elements in a long, intense finish