To say that Ridge Vineyards is an icon in California wine country is an understatement. Tradition and consistency have made this winery one of California’s favorites. And a visit to Ridge winery only confirms what is true about this winery–they don’t settle for anything less than the best. Its beautiful grounds, famed Monte Bello Series, and courteous staff have brought me to their Santa Cruz Winery tasting room on many occasions.
Ridge has become synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon and for very good reason. Their Monte Bello Series became the first to be selected in the famous Paris tasting of 1976 in which French wines were beat out by lesser known California wines. And 30 years later, in a 2006 re-enactment Ridge remained at the top – no pun intended.
Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Michael Foley, explains that to keep the consistent quality of the Monte Bello Series, in rare cases if they feel the crop selection is not up to par, they will decide to skip the Monte Bello entirely for that year and have done so in the past. With minimal intervention and pre-industrial processes, Ridge focuses on the quality of the grape in its natural state. To create the finest wine, they use a process of trial and elimination from several parcels each year. Each year’s Monte Bello, is hand crafted by tasting several different parcels and blending those parcels together. Some years it may be 100% cabernet and others it may be a blend of several different Bordeaux varietals. These selections are left up to the winemakers, including Paul Draper who has been with Ridge since 1969 crafting fine cabernets and chardonnays from the Monte Bello estate.
Today, Ridge tasting room in Santa Cruz offers visitors the chance to taste the famed Monte Bello wine along with other great wines in an original barn used for the production of wine. The outdoor area boasts panoramic views and picnic tables perfect for guests to sip and enjoy the surroundings. It’s certainly worth the one lane windy road leading up to Ridge.
2011 Monte Bello: Estate grown Monte Bello grapes and hand-harvested. Well-balanced with notes of sage, rosemary, dark plums, and cherries. $85.00
88% Cabernet Sauvignon
4% Cabernet Franc
2011 Torre Merlot: Elegant, medium-bodied with notes of red-cherry fruit, olives, lavender, and sweet oak. $55.00
2011 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon: Firm, full-bodied structure and ruby color with notes offennel, toasted oak, and minerals. $55.00
Santa Cruz Mountain Location
17100 Monte Bello Road
Cupertino, CA 95014
650 Lytton Springs Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Photos by Joe Ercoli @anvilimage.com