In 2015, Ridge completed a land exchange with the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District—an arrangement first proposed by the District over forty years ago. The agreement granted Ridge Vineyards agricultural rights to forty-two acres of former Monte Bello vineyard land abandoned during Prohibition. The land surrounds our 19th-century production winery on the south and east, and adjoins our vineyards at 2600’ elevation.
A key provision of the agreement is that an equal amount of Ridge-owned land visible from the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve’s hiking trails can never be developed. In addition, all new vineyards on the District’s land must be farmed organically or biodynamically, aligning with Ridge’s commitment to sustainable farming.
Watch the video below for Paul Draper’s narration on the goals for the land, as well as the history of how the agreement came to take place.
Ridge developed plans to plant thirty-two acres, over time, of the acquired land, which were originally planted to vines in the late 1880s by Osea Perrone, founder of the Monte Bello winery, before being abandoned.
Ridge will replant in five stages, with four year gaps between each phase. Clearing of eight acres for Phase One began in 2016 and planting commenced in 2017. For all stages, the vines will be primarily cabernet sauvignon, with some cabernet franc, petit verdot, and merlot. We expect that the fruit will be of very high quality; as the vines mature fully, at least half could be included in the Monte Bello.
The vine mix will consist of four or five of our favorite 19th-century Santa Cruz Mountains and California cabernet clones. The petit verdot is also a 19th-century California selection, and there will be a few acres of old-clone chardonnay as well.
In the near term, we could see up to fifteen tons of cabernet from the Phase One plantings. These additional 1000 cases are most likely to be used in the Estate Cabernet until the vines mature. In the longer term, once the entire thirty-two acres are planted, these new vineyards should provide up to 5000 more cases for the Estate and Monte Bello together.
A forty-year-old dream is coming true; some things are worth the wait.
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