Three Valleys: A Winemaker’s Perspective

Blog Post

January 2020

For the past 17 years, Ridge has produced Three Valleys. Prior to the 2001 vintage, the wine was produced and bottled as Ridge Sonoma Zinfandel, Coast Range, and Sonoma Station. Three Valleys is a zinfandel based blend which contains fruit from a number of Sonoma vineyards and is also the only “multi-vineyard” wine that Ridge produces. Considering its long history, we decided to ask the winemakers their perspective on Three Valleys: What goes into the wine? What makes Three Valleys different? What makes it special?

“Our gentle techniques working with zinfandel, have been refined over many decades that Ridge has been operating. The two wineries work with a level of discipline equal to that of a first growth Bordeaux chateau. This is applied to all our wines, including Three Valleys. So many of those comparable wines are made in larger volumes, in bigger tanks, with more additives, and with quickerstreamlined winemaking techniques. Three Valleys is special because we don’t take those shortcuts in winemaking.”

Eric Baugher, COO & Winemaker, Monte Bello

“As a multi-vineyard wine, the winemaker is free to blend different vineyards in varying quantities to make the best wine. This powerful tool is unavailable in single vineyard winemaking in which the winemaker relies much more heavily on the inherent nature of the vineyard, the quality of the farming, and the timing of picking.” 

John Olney, COO & Winemaker, Lytton Springs

How does Three Valleys differ from the other wines we produce?

There is no significant difference between Three Valleys and our single-vineyard winemaking. We begin the process in the winery utilizing the same techniques during harvest (natural yeast, small fermenters, and aerated pump-overs to extract elegant tannins, and finish with gentle pneumatic pressing.) Once natural malolactic fermentations finish, our assemblages begin.”

Eric Baugher

What makes Three Valleys special?

“With Three Valleys being a blend of multiple vineyards and grape varieties, and winemaking held constant as for all wines at Ridge, its resulting quality and complexity is a product of a carefully conducted assemblage. The wine lots being added and their percentages can be controlled by the winemaking team. Decisions are made by taste. Synergies can come into play as one lot is added to another, and so on and so forth. Greater flavors and texture can be achieved by having a bigger repertoire of wines to blend with. The art of blending is mysterious, much like alchemy, and Three Valleys is a wonderful example of that.”

Eric Baugher