Tasting through the 2022 Vintage

Blog Post

December 2022

This year, we welcomed two new winemakers to work under the leadership of Head Winemaker John Olney. Trester Goetting joined as our Monte Bello Winemaker; his background in crafting mountain cabernet as well as single-vineyard zinfandel was a perfect match. Shauna Rosenblum joined as our Lytton Springs Winemaker; she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in crafting exceptional single-vineyard zinfandels. After a fast and furious harvest, the winemaking teams visited both winery locations to taste the wines of the 2022 vintage.

Why taste the wines as a team?

John Olney discusses the importance of this exercise:

“We are fortunate at Ridge to have two wineries, one at Monte Bello and one at Lytton Springs, where each winemaking team can focus on our estate-grown wines. Though separate, winemaking at both facilities is guided by the long-held belief at Ridge that site, above all, determines wine quality.

“Gathering as a group to taste each other’s wines reaffirms our commitment to this philosophy and to the collaborative effort as a whole.”

What are some foundational characteristics that make Ridge wines stand apart?

Michael Bairdsmith, Assistant Winemaker and veteran at Lytton Springs, offers his experience:

“There’s plenty that’s unique to the Ridge winemaking philosophy. At its core, it’s quality grapes and a hands-off approach, but what I think has been the key to our quality and consistency over decades is the fact that we make every winemaking decision based on taste. We’re making picking, fermentation, maceration, pressing, blending, and aging decisions based purely on taste. We’re out in the vineyards tasting grapes, and in the cellar tasting new wine.

John Olney, Michael Bairdsmith, and Shauna Rosenblum tasting a barrel sample.

“Tasting and assessing ‘new’ wine for quality can be a difficult task, and that’s where the years of experience from John and Paul comes into play. I’ve had 8 vintages here at Ridge. John and Paul have had quite a few more. Over the years we’ve all spent countless hours in rooms, and in the cellar, tasting sample after sample and talking about textures, flavors, tannins, color, and aromas. We look at wines when they’re new and tricky to assess, wines that were bottled in the ’60s that had developed character only time can attain, and everything in between. I feel my role in these tastings is to keep immersing myself in the process and honing my palate to better understand and recognize our wine’s style and character, so that going forward I can help to keep the tradition alive and pass on what I can to new members of the team.”

What are our newest winemakers looking for while tasting the wines?

Trester Goetting offers his approach to the 2022 wines:

“My focus for the ’22 harvest was to continue the traditional winemaking practices that are at the core of the quality and style of Ridge wines. The old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind. I’m personally honored to have the opportunity to make wines at Monte Bello and lucky to be able to do so under the guidance of longtime Ridge winemakers Paul Draper and John Olney.

I feel that by sharing my extensive experience growing and making mountain cabernet and old vine zinfandel, I can help raise and refine the quality bar even higher. It’s really exciting to be working with some of the newer varietals like Grenache Blanc and Pinot Noir that Ridge has started to explore in recent years. There is always so much to learn when joining a new winery. I feel fortunate to be following my dream of running one of the most highly respected wineries in the world. Regardless of the wine, however, the goal remains to make wines that complement the overall Ridge winemaking philosophy and I look forward to carrying this tradition forward in the years to come.”

Shauna Rosenblum on her contributions to the vintage:

“Ridge has been a consistent producer of fine wine for more than half a century. Paul Draper bestowed upon John Olney his philosophy of winemaking, and the two of them have turned out some of the best wines in the world.

I have the utmost respect for the established protocol Ridge espouses regarding winemaking. Our native fermentations, use of American oak, and decisions not to use additives are the core of what makes Ridge wines so great and recognizable.

During my first harvest here, John taught me the ‘Ridge way’ and it was important to me to stick closely with said established protocols to produce a consistent product that our consumer knows and loves. John is an excellent teacher, and along the way I asked a lot of questions. My stamp that I feel I added to the 2022 vintage is great care and a lot of love. My hope is that when our customers taste the 2022 vintage they say, ‘Wow. This must have been a great growing year because these wines are premium.’ Nothing different that anyone can put their finger on, just really well-made wine in the traditional Ridge style.”

Trester Goetting, Michael Bairdsmith, and Shauna Rosenblum at Monte Bello.

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