Today’s Story: Ridge Vineyards
Ridge Vineyards, another historic California winery, found its beginnings near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in 1885. Osea Perrone, an Italian doctor in San Francisco, bought 180 acres and constructed the winery into three levels of the mountain using native limestone. He produced the first vintage under the Monte Bello Winery label in 1892, however later as Prohibition crippled the wine industry the facilities were abandoned.
Once Prohibition ended (thankfully), a man by the name of William Short purchased the winery and replanted several parcels to Cabernet Sauvignon in the late 1940s. The breakthrough came, however, in 1959 when the winery changed hands again to Dave Bennion, Hew Crane, Charlie Rosen, and Howard Ziedler and the partnership produced a quarter-barrel of “Estate” Cabernet. One of the greatest Cali Cabs at the time, this Monte Bello wine inspired Dave Bennion to leave Stanford Research Institute (where all partners worked) to focus on winemaking full-time.
As winemaking ramped up at Ridge, I would be remiss not to mention their Zinfandel, first made in 1964 from vines further down the mountain. In 1966, they produced their first Geyserville Zin that many of you should be able to find at your local wine store. By 1968, the winery was approaching 3,000 cases of annual production and had grown from 15 to 45 acres following an acquisition of the original Monte Bello terraces. Ridge demonstrated a quality and character in the upper echelon of California wines, with their 1971 Cab ultimately entered into the Paris Tasting of 1976.
As further background on Ridge, I’d like the opportunity to discuss their winemaking practices as well. Calling their style “pre-industrial,” Ridge shies away from chemicals and additives prevalent in the industry nowadays. They ferment their wines only with natural yeast, do not use commercial enzymes or nutrients to affect color, flavor, or tannin in the wines, and are certified organic. Further, one of my favorite features of a bottle of Ridge is the back label that tells the winemaking process and lists ingredients, which is not common.
I previously wrote about Ridge with their 2015 Syrah/Grenache/Mataro, 2012 Geyserville Vineyard, and 2012 Lytton Springs.
Today’s Wine: 2018 Adelaida Vineyard Roussanne
100% Roussanne; 13.8% ABV
The 2018 Adelaida Vineyard Roussanne is transparent pale to medium gold in color with straw yellow hues. This needs some time to open up in the glass, but once it does the nose lets off aromas of apricot, peach, lemon, chamomile, wet stone, dried vanilla, and oak. On the palate, this showcases notes of lemon, quince, underripe pear, apricot, wax, white florals, brioche, and oaky spice. The wine is medium- to full-bodied with fairly high viscosity and medium (+) acidity into a medium (+) length finish. This is the first 100% Roussanne produced by Ridge and they only made 4 barrels of it.
Price: $25 direct from winery on release. Unfortunately Ridge is sold out of this bottling and I cannot find it anywhere in store or online, though thankfully we have 8 more bottles left of a case hiding in the cellar. This is a really fun wine that I think is a steal at $25, though I’d like to wait another year or two before revisiting it.