Wines of Place
To make the finest wines, you must start with great vineyards.
Ridge was blessed with the 125-year-old Monte Bello vineyard
(abandoned after Prohibition), and the cabernet blocks (replanted
in the late 1940s). These vines produced our Monte Bello wines from
1959 to 1969. To supplement that limited production while we continued
to re-plant the rest of the abandoned cabernet vineyards, we turned to
California’s heritage of pre-Prohibition zinfandel vineyards, making a
1964 from vines planted lower on the ridge in the 1890s. Two years later,
in 1966, we made our first Geyserville Zinfandel from Sonoma County vines
planted in 1882. By the 1970s, the superb quality and immediate appeal of
our old-vine zinfandels was clear. They perfectly complemented our cabernet,
whose full complexity developed only with age. Together, the two have become
our focus. We have made a Geyserville in every vintage, and took over farming
the vineyard in 1990. 1972 marked our first Lytton Springs, from vines planted
in 1902. We purchased that vineyard in 1991. They, with Monte Bello, make up
our estate vineyards. Farming them sustainably, we have certified as organic
the majority of blocks at all three; more acres will be added by 2014.
The individual character of a fine wine reflects a totality of elements,
i.e. the terroir of its vineyard. Because flavor and balance are the overriding
factors dictating our harvesting decisions, we pick when the grapes are ripe,
but not overripe. All grapes are hand-picked, which allows for initial sorting
in the vineyard.
Determining, then using and maintaining, the minimum effective level of SO2
for each wine is essential to avoiding the divergent direction each barrel – let
alone each bottle – can take. We don’t allow such divergence to eliminate the
individuality that nature creates in the vineyard, and express in the wine.
To summarize, Ridge bases grape-growing in each vineyard on long experience,
while making use of the most recent advances in vineyard practice. In the cellar,
winemaking begins with respect for the natural process that transforms fresh grapes
into wine, and for the 19th century model of guiding that process with minimal
intervention. When you have great vineyards that produce high-quality grapes of
distinct, individual character, this approach is not only environmentally and socially
responsible, it’s also the best way to consistently make fine wine.