Ridge Vineyards is a California winery best known for its Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon and its equally famous range of Zinfandel wines and blends. The winery’s history dates back to 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. He planted vineyards on terraced slopes and constructed the Monte Bello Winery, producing the first Monte Bello vintage in 1892.
In 1959, four scientists from Stanford University's Research Institute purchased land adjacent to the Perrone property, the middle vineyard, and created an estate Cabernet. They formed the Ridge Vineyards partnership in 1962 and re-bonded the winery to produce the first official commercial vintage of Monte Bello. The first Zinfandel was made in 1964 from eighty-year-old vines and was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville Zinfandel from vines that are now one hundred and thirty years old. 1972 marked the first Lytton Springs, from vines planted in 1902.
The old Monte Bello winery and a small part of the Perrone vineyard property was purchased by Ridge in 1968. The old cellar, made of native limestone and built into the mountainside, is Ridge’s production facility today. At 2600 feet above sea level, it is surrounded by the upper vineyard.
Lytton Springs, in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, became part of the Ridge estate in 1991, completing the lineup of Ridge’s three estate vineyards which provides for 75% of the fruit they use. The winery produces wine at both the original Monte Bello location and Lytton Springs.
Paul Draper joined Ridge Vineyards as winemaker 1969. Draper became one of the world’s most celebrated winemakers, earning awards and accolades for his exceptional work. After nearly 46 years at the helm, Draper retired in 2016. Eric Baugher, COO and director of winemaking at Monte Bello, and John Olney, COO and winemaker at Ridge Lytton Springs, continue Ridge’s style and legacy of quality. Both men have worked with Paul Draper at Ridge for 20+ years.
Ridge relies on nature and tradition rather than technology. The Ridge pre-industrial approach is straightforward: find intense, flavorful grapes; intrude upon the process only when necessary; draw the fruit’s distinctive character and richness into the wine.