|Goes well with||Barbecue, Beef, Cheeses, Cold Meats, Duck, Game, Lamb, Pork, Roast Chicken, Roast Meats, Roast Turkey|
|Country/Region||USA, USA/Monte Bello|
|Grape type||Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot|
|Drinking style||Ripe, full-bodied, oaky|
The history of Ridge Vineyards began 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 to this day. At 2600 feet above sea level, 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 of vines with 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 in the early 1960s. That Monte Bello Cabernet was among California's finest wines of the era. 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. He was a Stanford graduate in philosophy and had recently returned from setting up a winery in Chile's coast range, having spent time in Europe studying wine and wineries (amongst them , the extraordinary cellars oh Chateau Latour). 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. Prime amongst his ideals was the superiority found in the grapes from old vines - especially relevant to Zinfandel. Cabernet and Zinfandel account for most of the production; Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Petite Sirah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of brilliant Chardonnay since 1962. Lytton Springs, in Sonoma County, became part of the Ridge estate in 1991. A quarter of a century's experience gained from leasing this vineyard had convinced them that it was an exceptional piece of ground. Forty consecutive vintages of Geyserville attest to yet another stunning combination of location and varieties. Though born in the early sixties to the post-Prohibition world of modern California winemaking, Ridge relies on nature and tradition rather than technology. Their approach is straightforward: find intense, flavorful grapes; intrude upon the process only when necessary; draw the fruit's distinctive character and richness into the wine.The Monte Bello vineyard was first planted when the winery was built, in 1886. In the early 1940s, the last of the old vineyard was abandoned; in the late forties a few blocks were replanted. Those cabernet vines - now sixty years old - produced the first Ridge Monte Bello in 1962, and subsequent vintages until the mid-seventies. By then, blocks replanted during the sixties were maturing, and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. A number of those consistently produced a softer, more accessible wine and were combined as the stylistically distinct Santa Cruz Mountains Estate. It is opaque, dark ruby in colour. Ripe cassis, black currant aromas on the nose, with notes of licorice, fennel, black olive, cedar, juniper berry, black tea. It has a truly opulent palate with rich cassis, blackberry, olive, tobacco, forest floor flavours. Integrated tannins and a long sweet-toasted-oak finish.