“The Outsider” – Wine Spectator’s James Laube on Paul Draper

Wine Spectator

In the September 30th, 2016 Issue of Wine Spectator, James Laube wrote a very nice piece on Paul’s history with Ridge. The following are short excerpts from the article:

“In 1969, Ridge Vineyards realized it needed a real winemaker. Since its founding a decade earlier, Ridge had essentially been a weekends-only home-winemaking operation, albeit a sophisticated one, and the trio of scientists and fine-wine intellectuals who owned it knew their limits. They hired Paul Draper, a 33-year-old former Stanford philosophy student who had served in the Army and the Peace Corps and who, after studying French and Italian cuisine, aspired to be a winemaker.”

“Draper’s assured presence, his quizzical mind and his passion for the kinds of wines Ridge fancied quickly proved the right fit. The winery modernized, added new vineyards and grew in reputation. All the while, however, it retained its cultish charm and never moved into the mainstream the way many other California wineries did…”

“…47 vintages later, Draper can reflect on an amazing career. Not only elevating Ridge to international acclaim, he took Zinfandel, an underappreciated blending grape, to an elite level as well, rescuing the variety from insignificance by demonstrating its full potential.”

“The winery also paid tribute to dozens of old vineyards in areas such as Sierra Foothills and Paso Robles, putting names like Dusi Ranch on the labels. Some sites, like Lytton Springs, in Dry Creek Valley, and Pagani Ranch, in Sonoma Valley, contained field blends of off-beat grapes planted in the 1880s that had largely been ignored as vintners pursued trendier wines. Those stumpy vines would have been plowed under in the name of progress had it not been for the respect Ridge gave them. Draper believed that old vines were the best and yielded the most unique wines. For me, old vines are like people who have lived in their homes for decades. They’re predictable. They’re dependable. They’re able to adjust and stay strong…”

“That Ridge’s wines today are better than ever is a tribute to him and his successors. Draper set the bar at the highest level, then surrounded himself with a disciplined team that would challenge his marks, even as they appreciate the value of their mentor’s stature and presence.”

“He remains a powerful, spiritual and inspirational figure…”

Read the full article at Winespectator.com (may require subscription)


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