If you have enjoyed a bottle of wine from our Monte Bello winery in the past 30 years, chances are it passed by the eyes of Michael McClelland. Michael joined Ridge in 2000 and was our Production Systems Manager. This last month, we celebrated Michael’s final harvest at Ridge and had a chance to ask him some questions about his time with us. Please join us in wishing Michael a well-deserved retirement!
New to the team, and following in Michael’s footsteps, is Glen Jacob. Glen is our new Maintenance and Production Systems Manager at Monte Bello. Read on later in this post to get to know him as one of our newest production team members.
I joined Ridge in 2000. My first bottling vintage would have been 1999 and it was the first of many.
My first introduction to winery life was when I was a kid and working for a very large bulk wine producer. I was with them for 15 years, and I felt like working in the wine industry was what I was meant to do. That company changed hands and moved, so I did as well. Following them to the hot central valley and not liking it, I started looking for something else. I decided I wanted to stay in the area so I changed industries for a number of years but I always wanted back in the winery. After a few years, I found an ad in the paper that Ridge had placed, and there I was, back working for a winery. What I didn’t know was that it wasn’t just any winery, but the then-famous Ridge Vineyards. I was interviewed by CEO, Mark Vernon, and Monte Bello winemaker at the time, Eric Baugher. They were interested in my technical skills but also to see if I would be the right fit. They then had Wilma and Paul Draper talk with me, and that’s when I realized that this wasn’t just an impersonal job but an opportunity to be part of a handpicked Ridge team.
Besides the obvious fact that Ridge makes great wine, they have cultivated an almost family-like environment that lets their employees feel valued.
In the old days, we had what was called the Day in the Vineyard. We worked the event with the customers during the day but come nighttime it was time to loosen up. We had music, food done onsite by Bar B Que Bob, and all of the great wine we wanted to taste. Some of my fondest memories have been working with all of the different personalities that have been here through the years.
My favorite Ridge wine year after year is our Geyserville Zinfandels. They are always so soft and silky, and I seem to keep going back to them.
When I started at Ridge, I thought I was going to be dedicated to bottling and production maintenance and the projects that go with that. Little did I know it would work into something much more. I found myself being a part of a very talented group of guys that were well versed in a little of everything from construction to housing maintenance to all things winery-related. Soon the projects started rolling in, and they haven’t stopped yet. The people I work with and the internal resources we have are the keys to my hopefully productive time with Ridge.
My wife Andrea (Andy) and I make regular trips to the Napa / Sonoma wine country and we love Healdsburg and Yountville. But since she is of Italian descent we have always wanted to go to Italy. I think we would have a great time touring some of the wine country there.
The Judgement in Paris. The fact that Ridge and California wines did so well in 1976 and even better 30 years later.
I like a good Beef Burgundy. We cook with and drink a good Ridge Zinfandel.
Plan to spend some time here and enjoy the place, the great wines, and the very informative and knowledgeable Hospitality staff.
I was raised on a small farm outside Davis CA. I moved to Southern California to attend Cal Poly Pomona majoring in Mechanical Engineering. In 1987 I started my professional career at Smurfit Newsprint, a recycled newsprint mill in Southern California. I worked there in various capacities in Engineering, Maintenance, and Production for 17 years, the last two as Production Manager.
With newsprint usage in severe decline, I left the paper mill and started Mission Bottling, a mobile wine bottling business, with a business partner from the paper mill, in 2004. We sold Mission Bottling in 2017 and I went to work for Scheid Family Wines in Greenfield CA as Bottling Manager.
This incredible opportunity came up at Ridge Vineyards, and here I am!
See all the answers to the previous question. How the employees are valued and trusted is phenomenal.
Chile, it sounds interesting.
Filet Mignon and Cabernet Sauvignon, or Chicken Pasta and Chardonnay.