The Grape Nation is a podcast hosted by Sam Benrubi of Heritage Radio Network. The goal of the podcast is to bring wine to the people. In the December 1st episode, Benrubi looks back at the year in wine for the sixth consecutive time and welcomes Josh Greene, Editor and Publisher of Wine and Spirits Magazine, to join. You can listen to the full episode from The Grape Nation here.
Josh Greene selected the 2017 Syrah Grenache Mataro in order to examine Ridge’s vineyards and farming practices. Since the early 1900’s, the Lytton Estate has been planted to a number of different grape varieties such as zinfandel, petite sirah, and carignane. This wine comes from two hillside parcels at Lytton West; one is planted entirely to syrah, while the other is planted to half grenache and half mataro.
2017 Syrah Grenache Mataro
“This is an example of brilliant viticulture… I was blown away when I tasted it.”
-Josh Greene, Wine & Spirits Magazine
Greene chose to feature Ridge wines because our viticultural practices highlight the unique characteristics of the parcels of land we farm: “Ridge grows wines that are appropriate to California.” While our Monte Bello wines exemplify the strengths of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, our field blends at Lytton Springs have become synonymous with Dry Creek Valley.
“In Dry Creek Valley… Growing wines that are appropriate for that place, not wines that are driven by the market… Finding vines that are appropriate for a site (rather than finding vines that a proprietor wants to grow) is very much a climate change matter.”
He goes on to describe how this approach is no longer a choice, but instead a way of life. “Everyone is into these Mediterranean varieties, Eastern European varieties, Portuguese… These extreme climates where people are trying to grow classic varieties. But they’re now forced to plant what’s appropriate to where they live.”
To Ridge, expressing terroir means applying our pre-industrial winemaking method of minimal intervention to reflect a sense of place.
We have always believed that wine is far more interesting and meaningful when it reflects a single place and a natural process. Our commitment to farming our vineyards responsibly means that we maintain certain principles in the vineyard, including biodiversity, ecological balance, sustainability, natural pest management, and soil integrity.
It is uncommon for a winery to produce any significant quantity of wine using such a natural approach, taking sustainably and organically-grown grapes and turning them into wine using only “pre-industrial” winemaking methods. Ultimately, the ends justify the means, because wines made in this fashion more aptly express their provenance and are far more gratifying to make and drink.
At the end of each episode, Benrubi asks each guest the same set of questions. When asked what his favorite food and wine pairing is, Greene answers with another example of a Ridge wine that expresses its terroir: Geyserville.
“I just served 2018 Geyserville for Thanksgiving, and we had awesome wines around it, but that was the one that blew everyone away.”