Ridge Vineyards was founded in 1959 when three Stanford Research Institute engineers bought an abandoned winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The vineyards had been planted in the late 19th century by a San Francisco physician who produced his first vintage in the original winery, called Monte Bello, in 1892. The first Ridge vintage was in 1962. Paul Draper recently retired and John Olney is making the wines at Lytton Springs and Eric Baugher at Monte Bello. Ridge makes Cabernet, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Rhone style wines.
Ridge recently sent me samples of their new releases.
2017 Ridge Petite Sirah Lytton Estate Vineyard – Pitch black. 13.8% ABV. 94% Petite Sirah and 6% Zinfandel. Savory nose of black fruits, creosote, wet pavement and spice. Full bodied with strong acidity. Dark and brooding with copious tannins. Blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate and barbecued meats on the palate. The finish is long with chalky tannins. Somewhat approachable now but this wine will age effortlessly for at least a decade. $40 at the winery and retail. My rating: 93 points.
2017 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch – Purple in color. 14.6% ABV. 84% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah, 7% Alicante Bouschet and 2% Mataro. Brilliant nose of jammy red fruits, peach and baking spices. Medium body with mouth watering acidity. Brimming with bright, high toned fruits. Cherries, raspberry liqueur, earth and pepper on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. The best young Zinfandel I have had from Pagani Ranch and from Ridge for that matter. Just a stunner. Best over the next 4-6 years. $40 at the winery and retail. My rating: 96 points.
2017 Ridge Lytton Springs – Purple in color. 14.8% ABV. 74% Zinfandel, 15% Petite Sirah, 9% Carignane and 2% Mataro. Ripe nose of brambly black fruits, spiced plums and loamy earth. Full bodied with medium acidity. Elegant, Claret style Zinfandel. Black cherry, blackberry, iron and pepper on the palate. Tremendous length on the finish. The consensus is that Lytton Springs needs time in the cellar but I think this will show best over the next 3-5 years. $45 at the winery and retail. My rating: 92 points.
2016 Ridge Monte Bello – Purple in color. 13.7% ABV. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petite Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc. Stunning nose of red and black fruits, creme de cassis, scorched earth and flowers. Medium to full bodied and perfectly balanced. The fruit is immense, concentrated and remarkably pure. Cassis liqueur, black currants, black raspberries, graphite and earth on the palate. The finish is long and seamless with ever present, silky tannins. Monte Bello is a wine of finesse and grace that deftly walks the line between old and new world. Compelling and somewhat approachable now but be certain that this wine will age gracefully for 25 years or more. $225 at the winery and retail. My rating: 98 points.
The entire Ridge lineup is mostly available at the winery and retail. Exceptional wines that are fairly priced, well crafted and easy to find. There is so much to like here.