Anthony Dias Blue Tasting Notes:
Paul Draper at Ridge is a true student of Zinfandel and its potential. The famous Geyserville Zin comes from central Sonoma and it delivers bright, clean and spicy berry flavors. The wine is long and rich with explosive fruit acidity. Paul adds 17% Carignane 6% Petite Sirah and 2% Mataro (Mourvedre) for balance and complexity.
The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a medical doctor and 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 current 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 re-planted several parcels to cabernet sauvignon. From these "lower vineyards" vines the new owners—Dave Bennion and his three partners (all Stanford Research Institute engineers)- made ten gallons of "estate" cabernet in 1959. That Monte Bello Cabernet was among California's finest wines of that era. Its quality and distinctive character—and that of other wines produced from these same vines in 1959, '60, and '61—convinced the partners to re-bond the winery in time for the 1962 vintage. The first Ridge Zinfandel was made in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard on the neighboring Picchetti ranch. This was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville Zinfandel. The founding families were the core of the labor force. They reclaimed the Monte Bello terraces, increasing vineyard size from fifteen to forty-five acres. Working on weekend, they made wines of unprecedented intensity and regional character.
Ridge now makes many thousands of cases of wine per year. Cabernet and Zinfandel account for most of the production; Merlot, Mataro, and petite Syrah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge also makes limited amounts of Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay.
Tasting Notes—September 1998