Paul Draper grew up on an eighty-acre farm near the Chicago suburb of Barrington. After attending the Choate School and receiving a degree in philosophy from Stanford University, he lived for two years in northern Italy. He went on to attend the University of Paris and traveled extensively in France. In both Italy and France he sought out and studied traditional winemaking practices. In the mid-sixties, with a close friend, he set up a small winery in the coast range of Chile and produced several vintages of old vine cabernet sauvignon.
He joined Ridge Vineyards in 1969 and resides atop Monte Bello Ridge with his wife, pianist and author Maureen McCarthy Draper. Their daughter, Caitlin, has presented them with their first grandchildren, Caden, six and a granddaughter, Brynn, two. Draper is known for the fine cabernets and chardonnays of the Monte Bello estate vineyards, and as a pioneer in the production of long-lived, complex zinfandels.