Three founding partners—Dave Bennion, Hew Crane, Charlie Rosen, all Stanford Research Institute engineers—purchased a piece of land on Monte Bello Ridge in 1959. Sitting on a ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the land was a sanctuary for their families to enjoy after their workweeks in the Silicon Valley. The land also had a vineyard and winery on it. Watch and listen to Paul Draper, Sue Crane, and Sue’s sons as they guide you through the beginning years of Ridge Vineyards, up until Paul Draper’s arrival as winemaker in 1969.
We will be ‘opening the vault’ to share more of our favorite memories, connect with our members and fans, and explore plans for our continued growth and impact in the industry. We look forward to having you alongside!
“In looking back at our last 60 years, I’ve focused entirely on production, that is, the winery and vineyards. From the beginning, our success has been built on our attempt to make some of the finest wines being produced today. However, any successful company depends on much more than just production. In the last twenty years, we have assembled an incredible team that has brought the other essential aspects of our operation to a level that has placed Ridge among the most respected wine producers in the world.
“We look forward to the next 60 years and attempting ever finer quality with each new vintage.”
1959 – 1962
Three scientists from Stanford University’s Research Institute (SRI) and their families form a partnership and buy Dr. Short’s property on Monte Bello Ridge. The partners re-bond the winery and name it Ridge Vineyards. That year they produce their first Monte Bello.
1964 – 1972
In 1964, Ridge produces its first zinfandel from 19th century vines on the Pichetti Ranch near the base of the Monte Bello Ridge. In 1966, Ridge produces the first Geyserville, from vines planted in 1882 in Sonoma County. In 1972, Ridge produces the first Lytton Springs, from vines planted in 1901.
Paul Draper joins Ridge as winemaker.
1976 – 1977
Judgement of Paris, 1976: Steven Spurrier organizes a tasting of California cabernets and chardonnays and top French wines. To everyone’s surprise, California beat the French in both the red and white flights. The 1971 Monte Bello comes in 5th. In 1977, Ridge launches the Advance Tasting Program, ATP, America’s first winery wine club.
John Olney joins Ridge as Cellar Worker at Monte Bello. In 1999 he becomes Assistant Winemaker/General Manager. In 2001 he becomes Vice President of Winemaking at Lytton Springs and in 2016 he also attains the title of COO. In 2021, John Olney is named Head Winemaker & COO, overseeing winemaking operations at both Monte Bello and Lytton Springs.
30 year repeat of the Judgement of Paris. The 1971 and 2000 Monte Bello cabernets win first place in both the original vintage wine and new vintage wine categories in London and California.
2015 – 2016
Through an exchange agreement with the Mid-Penninsula Regional Open Space District, 42 acres of land that was originally planted to grapes before prohibition is acquired at Monte Bello. In 2016, Paul Draper retires at age 80, after 47 years as winemaker. Mark Vernon is promoted to CEO. Ridge purchases Whitton Ranch, a 36-acre parcel which is the heart of the Geyserville wine.
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