September 1st, 2016
The Wine Industry Advisor has written a great piece on what Paul Draper’s legacy means to other winemakers in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Here a few excerpts from the article:
“Just a few years prior to that, in 1969, Paul Draper, a philosopher with no formal winemaking training, joined Ridge. He would go on to become one of the most famous names in all of winedom, producing the #2 California Cabernet in the Judgment of Paris, which pitted his famed 1971 Monte Bello Ridge Cabernet against four top Bordeaux (Number 1 in the overall ranking was the 1973 Stag’s Leap Cab, followed by 1970 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (#2), 1970 Chateau Montrose (#3) and 1970 Chateau Haut-Brion (#4)…”
“Wine Industry Advisor asked some of the next generation of winemakers to share what Draper meant to them and how his legacy informed their winemaking. Even from those who had never met the man, we heard the following: Set a high benchmark for the region. Responsible for the new world’s greatest wines. Established Monte Bello as the best real wine brand in the world. Humble and gracious. Brought a thoughtfulness and philosophical approach to winemaking that showed the world that world-class wines were coming from our region. A thinker, not just in winemaking, but everything. He is one of the most brilliant minds of our time, a true intellect.
What follows are thoughts and postulation from some of the next generation of Santa Cruz Mountains winemakers who are carrying forward the torch passed on by one of the industry’s greatest luminaries as he enjoys life on the other side of the sorting table…”
“Eric Baugher, Ridge’s current Director of Winemaking, has had the distinct privilege of working beside the man: neither one of them formally studied enology or viticulture. Of all the winemakers interviewed, he knows Draper best, and shares these thoughts.
“As a philosopher turned winemaker, he approached making wine as an artist rather than technologist. This was quite unique at the time, when most of California’s winemakers were enologists trained in an academic setting with heavy reliance on chemistry.
“Paul showed a great passion for understanding nature and balance, applying it to vineyard and winemaking practices, which then shine through in the wines. In those early years in the Santa Cruz Mountains, most producers had very little viticulture and winemaking experience, and most of the wines were variable in quality year-to-year. He was able to bring a higher level of disciplined winemaking that resulted in greater wine quality, consistency and age-ability.”
Says Ryan Beauregard of Beauregard Vineyards: “Paul is the Grandfather of the region in my eyes. He is the one that proved to the world that Santa Cruz Mountains can make some of the best wines in the world. I am very thankful for his pioneering.”