Field Blends and Pre-Industrial Winemaking at Ridge

Blog Post

In the world of wine, there is always pressure for vintage-to-vintage consistency. However, perfect wine consistency isn’t always honest to the vineyards. After all, when weather and natural conditions change year over year, these changes are reflected in the vines and grapes.

Winemakers face the same challenge year after year: how do they produce a wine that’s true to its natural process, and is still consistently recognizable and delicious? We tackle this challenge with our pre-industrial winemaking. We believe that with this simple and perfected approach, a wonderful kind of consistency is achieved.

What is a field blend wine?

A field blend is a wine made up of two or more types of grapes, where the grapes are planted together in the same vineyard, brought in together at harvest and co-fermented in the winery.

Many of the old-vine vineyards in Northern California are planted this way. For example, an old-vine California vineyard might be planted primarily with zinfandel, along with small plantings of carignane and petite sirah among the zinfandel vines.

How do you make field blends?

Ridge Vineyards continues to produce field blended wines in both our Geyserville and Lytton Springs locations. This is part of our fundamental commitment to honor the true character of our vineyards.

As a single-vineyard producer, Ridge practices a non-interventionist set of values in both the vineyard and the winery. It’s our belief that these natural practices help to capture all the qualities that make up the full expression of our vineyard.

If the vineyard is planted as a field blend, then the wine we make will be a field blend. Every vineyard we work with has its own unique set of characteristics — micro-climate, soil types, vine age and history, topography, etc. — and by trying to intervene as little as possible, we craft wines unique to their vineyard.

For example, Ridge’s Geyserville (a field blend) may change year to year, but it always tastes like Geyserville, and unlike any other wine.

Both the Geyserville and Lytton Springs wines have earned their fair share of accolades from all corners of the world, and they’ve done so as field blends.

How else does Ridge practice pre-industrial winemaking?

Year after year, wines like Geyserville and Lytton Springs showcase an array of complexities, aromatics, and flavors thanks to the performance of those field-blended varieties.

Additionally, our field blend practices are just one of many practices that reflect our commitment to pre-industrial winemaking. Our other traditional processes include:

  • Integrated pest management
  • Beneficial crop cover
  • Irrigation management
  • Reduced tillage
  • Composting
  • Recycling