51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc
primary and secondary fermentations ended, Ridge
began assembling this
outstanding Santa Cruz Mountains. Based on blind
tastings, they included selected portions of the
early-ripening Merlot and the last-picked Cabernet,
all of the first press, and the richest of the second.
By April, assemblage was complete. Twenty-two
months in air-dried American oak has integrated the
wine. It is beautifully balanced, and can be enjoyed
now, yet will develop still greater complexity with
five to ten years of bottle age.
Ridge's history begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor and prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He planted vineyards and constructed a winery of redwood and native limestone in time to produce the first vintage of Monte Bello in 1892. The historic building now serves as the Ridge production facility.
Though Ridge began as a Cabernet winery, by the mid-60s it had produced several Zinfandels including the Geyserville. In 1972, Lytton Springs joined the line-up and the two came to represent an important part of Ridge production. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of Chardonnay since 1962.
The Ridge approach is straightforward: find the most intense and flavorful grapes, guide the natural process, draw all the fruit's richness into the wine. Decisions on when to pick, when to press, when to rack, what varietals and what parcels to include and when to bottle, are based on taste. To retain the nuances that increase complexity, Ridge winemakers handle the grapes and wine as gently as possible. There are no recipes, only attention and sensitivity.
View all Ridge Wines
The Santa Cruz Mountain appellation encompasses the land between Half Moon Bay in the north and Mount Madonna (just near Monterey) in the south. Producing wine since the early 1800's, some of these wineries have been around for quite some time, mingling their vineyard lands with the sprawling redwood forests.
Even though the climate can be challenging, and only 1500 acres are under vine, over 50 wineries still operate successfully – and produce successful wine. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay do well in this region, along with a few plots of Cabernet Sauvignon. Hills, valleys and forests generate multiple micro-climates, creating a diverse flavor among the wines.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country unto itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.