Winemakers

Eric Baugher, COO & Monte Bello Winemaker
A native Californian, Eric grew up on a small ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains where he raised animals, planted gardens and orchards, and rode horses. His love of the area kept him there for college; he attended UC Santa Cruz, receiving undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Eric joined Ridge as Chemist in 1994 and in his first year, conducted research to develop new, sophisticated analytical tests to support Ridge’s traditional winemaking practices. Eric has had his hand in the production of Ridge wines since the harvest of 1995 when Ridge C.E.O, Paul Draper, passed along more responsibilities outside the laboratory-with the management of production and winemaking. Since that time, Eric was promoted to Vice President of Winemaking in 2001, winemaker in 2004, and Chief Operating Officer in 2016. His passion for wine and the stimulating juxtaposition of low-tech winemaking and high-tech analytic techniques keeps him totally involved and constantly inspired.

John Olney, COO & Lytton Springs Winemaker
John began traveling to Europe at an early age where he was introduced to the culture of wine in France and Italy. He frequently visited the south of France where he spent time with his uncle, Richard Olney, the celebrated food and wine writer. Through his uncle’s relationships, John learned first hand many of the great European winemaking methods and traditions. Later, while attending a language exchange program in Provence, he chose to pursue wine as a career and, in 1994, enrolled in enological studies at the Lycée Viticole in Burgundy to learn the craft of winemaking in greater depth. Before coming to Ridge, John worked at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant as well as with several European winemakers including Gerard Chave in the Rhone, Lucien Peyraud at Domaine Tempier and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. In 1996, John began work at Ridge’s Monte Bello Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In 1999, he was put in charge of the Lytton Springs Winery where he oversaw the construction of the innovative 17,000 sq. ft. straw bale winery.

David Gates, Senior Vice President, Vineyard Operations
David grew up on a hundred-and-sixty acre farm in central Minnesota, and decided to escape the cold winters by coming to California for school. His love of plants and agriculture led him to UC Davis, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Viticulture, and met and married his wife, Donna. After an obligatory stint in Napa Valley he made his way to Ridge in 1989. David’s duties include managing the historic Monte Bello vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Whitton Ranch at Geyserville, and the Lytton Estate vineyards at Healdsburg, as well as monitoring and helping all Ridge growers in Sonoma, Napa, Santa Clara, and San Luis Obispo Counties.