Premier Winery Experience participant and Passport to Zinfandel participant
Is there a more spectacular contrast of the old and new in California? Sequestered high atop the Santa Cruz mountains, the historic Ridge winery originally built in 1885 by Osea Perrone that once looked down on Santa Clara’s orchards and vineyards now looks directly down on the south Bay Area, Santa Clara, and Cupertino, the very epicenter of the world’s technology revolution – Silicon Valley.
The old winery and vineyards remained dormant after Prohibition until William Short revitalized the property in the 1940’s. Then a quartet of Stanford scientists started making small lots of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel from the mountain’s vineyards in the 1960’s, suddenly capturing attention as among California’s greatest wines of the era. Then, in 1969, Paul Draper, a young student of philosophy turned practical winemaker came onboard, restoring the old winery and crafting new wines from many of California’s oldest vines, knowing that those original plantings were repositories of exceptional wine character and quality. Ever since, Ridge has become a revered standard-bearer for California’s heritage vineyards and “Monte Bello” became a benchmark vineyard for California.
As a result, visiting Ridge Monte Bello is more of a pilgrimage than a winery tour! If you’re the adventurous sort, make an advance appointment here – allowing plenty of time to carefully wend your way up the steep winding roads (just one lane in spots!) so that you can take in the breathtaking Bay Area views and immerse yourself in a memorable tasting of a selection of Ridge wines, including historic single vineyard Zinfandels -typically old field blends – that express the defining characteristics from California’s diverse regions.
The Paul Draper era has transitioned now to Ridge Monte Bello winemaker, Trester “Tres” Goetting who developed his expertise over a career of working with great Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel vineyards. Tres places great importance on preserving the Ridge tradition of hands-on work in the vineyards, and as Ridge calls it – “pre-industrial” winemaking in the cellar that utilizes old world techniques that were used in the days of Monte Bello’s first winemakers.