Located on the benchland on the far Eastern edge of Dry Creek Valley north of the town of Healdsburg, this vineyard is an ideal place to grow zinfandel. Although the site is fairly new to us, this vineyard has a long viticultural history. The original vines were abandoned in the early 1900’s. More of these vineyard blocks have been replanted each year over the last thirty years. Ridge’s East Bench is produced from vines we planted in 2000 and 2001.
We replanted the East Bench vineyard with specially selected budwood. These cuttings – from four pre-Prohibition era vineyards – were chosen for their excellent quality and pedigree. Like the zinfandel vines in both our Geyserville and Lytton Springs vineyards, the vines at East Bench are head trained (no trellis) and spur pruned. More than 40 years of experience has taught us that growing zinfandel in this way creates consistently high quality wines with unparalleled complexity and depth of flavor.
The soil in this benchland vineyard was formed approximately 80 million years ago. A blend of clay loam with ancient river rock, it is iron-rich and reddish in color. Deep and well-weathered, it is ideal for growing wine grapes, especially zinfandel. The soils are identical across the bench, as are the climatic conditions, allowing the vines to demonstrate their distinctive character as they mature fully.
A true Dry Creek Valley zinfandel, East Bench shows the characteristic cherry fruit and dusty spice that are the hallmarks of the appellation. In an effort to convey the uniqueness of the site itself, we ferment each parcel separately using only native yeasts. After the wines undergo a natural malolactic fermentation, we select only the most intense, distinctive lots for inclusion in the finished wine. By taking a natural, hands-off approach to winemaking we allow the vineyard to express its true character in the glass.
2006 marked our first vintage of East Bench. We believe this outstanding vineyard with its ancient soils and consistent climate will allow us to produce exemplary, distinctive zinfandel for many years to come. With East Bench, we continue our tradition of creating single-vineyard, site-specific zinfandels of impeccable quality and consistency.