The picturesque Pagani Ranch vineyard lies along Highway 12 in Sonoma Valley near the town of Kenwood. The site, with its rolling hills, Victorian home, and barns is frequently photographed by visitors to the area. Before it was a vineyard, this land was part of the Wildwood Dairy Farm. When Felice Pagani purchased it in the late 1880’s, only a few vines had already been established on the western portion of the site.
Felice Pagani planted the many small vineyard blocks that make up the ranch in two stages – the oldest in the late 1890’s, the youngest around 1914. After establishing the vineyard, Felice cared for it until his death in 1926. His son Louis then took over and, likewise, farmed the vineyard for the rest of his life. Today, the site is tended by the fourth generation of the Pagani family. The vineyard’s long survival is proof of its merit and the family’s commitment to it. An average site would have been abandoned during the thirteen years of Prohibition, or during the Depression.
Pagani Ranch has a unique place among California vineyards. It is one of very few vineyards comprised primarily of 100 year old vines. The ranch’s 30 acres of turn-of-the-century vines consists principally of zinfandel and petite sirah complemented by minor amounts of mataro (mourvedre) and alicante bouschet. Rooted in a mix of gravelly clay loam, the vines must strike deep into the soil to find nutrients. This keeps berry size and yield low, while intensifying flavor.
At Pagani Ranch, cool, foggy mornings give way to warm days. The climate here is generally cooler than in Geyserville and Lytton Springs. Vines are planted on rolling, east-facing slopes. Fruit tends to set somewhat later and reach full maturity slowly, allowing us to produce wines that are both complete and complex.
Ridge has produced a Pagani Ranch bottling each year since 1991. These family farmed 100-year-old vines yield consistently high quality fruit. Ridge’s Pagani Ranch is a zinfandel-based field blend that shows plum and cherry aromas, old-vine spice, and complex mineral notes. Its full-bodied bramble berry fruit is backed by elegant tannins and a lingering finish.
Photo by Lawrence Piggins, Tempered-Light.com