The history of this iconic winery's vineyards dates back to 1885 when Osea Perrone, a physician who became a prominent member of the Italian community in San Francics, purchased 180 acres of land near the top of Monte Bello Ridge. He planted vineyards and built the Monte Bello Winery, producing his first wine under that name in 1892. At 792 feet above sea level, the production facility is surrounded by the so-called "upper vineyard," now known as Perrone Ranch.
In the 1940s, after the Depression and Prohibition, the theologian William Short bought an abandoned winery and vineyard just below the Perone property and planted several vines of Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1962, four Stanford scientists reunited the winery and began the Ridge's modern history by producing a quarter barrel of Monte Bello Cabernet. A wine that was one of the best California wines of its day.
This was followed by the first Zinfandel produced in 1964 from the small Geyservill vineyard established around the same year in which the first Monte Bello wine was produced. The part of the vineyard that is called 'Old Patch' is over 130 years old. In 1966, Ridge's four founding partners produced the first Geyserville Zinfandel.
In the late 1960s, Ridge was joined by Paul Draper, who was a practical winemaker, not an oenologist. His knowledge of fine wines and traditional methods complemented Ridge's pioneering approach to winemaking, which they now refer to as 'pre-industrial'. The wine is made in traditional ways without the addition of modern additives with minimal industrial processing to retain its true quality. This ensures the wine's distinctive character, which is complemented by its rich fruit and intense flavours.
It is thanks to Paul Draper's approach that California wine has gained international acclaim and can compete with the most renowned wines in the world, Ridge winery has received international recognition and the underrated Zinfandel variety has become an elite level variety.
In modern history, the Ridge estate has grown to include Lytton Springs Vineyards in Sonoma County. This exceptional property is home to over 100 year old Zinfandel vines planted with other varieties such as Petit Sirah, Carignane, a small amount of Mataro (mourvèdre) and Grenache. Lytton Springs is a prime example of Ridge's commitment to promoting varieties planted over a century ago and surviving in many places.
Ridge Winery stands behind the so-called one vineyard philosophy. Since its founding, they have believed that the best wines come from specific pieces of land, from places where the character of the soil, the climate and the quality of the varietal come together in ideal proportion.
Ridge is particularly famous for its Monte Bello wines and the amazing Zinfandels they grow in many appellations. The Petite Sirah and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon are also incredible wines. Although Rigde is best known for their red wines, we can't leave out their Ridge Estate Chardonnay from the Monte Bello vineyard.
It's because of Paul Draper's approach that the California wine has gained international acclaim and can boldly compete with the most acclaimed wines in the world. Ridge has become an internationally renowned winery, turning the under-appreciated Zinfandel variety into an elite-level varietal.
Now Ridge is one of the greatest icons of California winemaking and one of the most famous in the world.