John Olney Named Head Winemaker

Longtime Lytton Springs Winemaker Promoted to Head Winemaker at Ridge Vineyards

We are pleased to announce that John Olney has been promoted to Head Winemaker and COO at Ridge Vineyards and will oversee all Ridge winemaking operations at both the Monte Bello and Lytton Springs wineries. John joined Ridge twenty-five years ago and spent his first three years at Monte Bello working under Paul Draper. In 1999, he led the construction of Ridge’s new Lytton Springs winery in Healdsburg and was then promoted to Winemaker and Chief Operating Officer of the Lytton Springs facility.

John has a wealth of winemaking experience. Very early on, 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. In 1994, he enrolled in enological studies at the Lycée Viticole in Burgundy. Before joining Ridge, John worked at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant and interned with several European winemakers, including Gérard Chave in the Rhône, Lucien Peyraud at Domaine Tempier, and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. In 2016 John was voted in as a member of Academie Internationale du Vin (AIV).

Paul Draper, Chairman of Ridge, and previously head winemaker for fifty years and CEO for thirty, said: “John fully understands what it takes to make fine wine and has been doing just that for twenty years at Lytton Springs. He has contributed greatly to the consistent quality of Ridge wines over the years. I am confident that John will excel in this new position. I will be supporting him as he returns to work again at Monte Bello.”

Winemaker Eric Baugher’s Departure

After twenty-six years at Ridge, all at the Monte Bello winery, Eric Baugher is pursuing his dream of leading a new, high-quality, winemaking venture in the Napa Valley. Eric joined Ridge in 1994 to work in the lab after earning a degree in biochemistry from UC Santa Cruz. He was quickly promoted to Lab Director based on his excellent work.  As Eric became more interested in the winemaking process, he asked Paul Draper if he could help out in the winery. As Eric developed a passion for making wine, he advanced to the Assistant Winemaker position, ultimately becoming Winemaker and Chief Operating Officer of the Monte Bello winery.

“Not only did Eric master the Ridge approach to making fine wine, but he was also able to contribute many improvements to our methods while sticking to our pre-industrial approach,” said Ridge CEO Mark Vernon. “We wish Eric the best of success in his new venture.”

The Future of Winemaking at Ridge

Ridge is committed to continuing the production of fine wines of the highest quality.

“Single vineyard winemaking that reveals the unique characteristics of outstanding vineyard sites is what we do. Our unending pursuit of quality is what motivates the daily work of the vineyard and winemaking teams.”

— John Olney