Monte Bello Ridge, located in the northern reaches of the Santa Cruz mountains, has been a prized site for California winemaking for over a century. Italian born doctor Osea Perrone was the first to plant vines and build a winery here in 1886. Over time, various parts of what is now the Monte Bello property have been separately owned. That is, until 1959, when four scientists from the Stanford Research Institute decided to start purchasing property, uniting the disparate plots under Ridge Vineyards.
Since its inception, Ridge Vineyards has expanded far from its original home atop the Monte Bello Ridge. Grapes are now harvested from several vineyards in Sonoma county, as well as the Paso Robles AVA in San Luis Obispo county. The Geyserville and Lytton Springs Vineyards produce two of Ridge's most well known Zinfandels. The Geyserville Zinfandel was first produced from Ridge's Alexander Valley estate in 1966. The vines in this vineyard are the oldest of any Ridge vineyard, dating back 130 years. This longevity produces a singular intensity and complexity of flavor in the Geyserville Zinfandel. Lytton Springs had its first vintage in 1972 and is now a staple among Dry Creek Zinfandels. The gravelly clay soil of Dry Creek Valley provides constant moisture for the vines, allowing them to ripen slowly and build concentration.
Ridge Vineyards' most famous wine is a Cabernet blend harvested from the home vineyard on Monte Bello Ridge. At such a high altitude, Monte Bello is tiered, reaching 2700' above sea level at its highest point. Grapes ripen late, producing classic, elegant wines with aromatic complexity, structure and an impression of intensity without excess weight. This wine blew up on the international scene in 1976 when it earned fifth place in the Judgement of Paris wine tasting.
Renowned winemaker Paul Draper serves as CEO and winemaker at Ridge Vineyard. A Stanford graduate, Draper came to Ridge in 1969 after learning the trade in France and opening a small winery in Chile. Draper is known for his hands-off approach to winemaking, letting the terroir do most of the work defining the wines. He has been largely successful with this style, earning the '2000 Man of the Year' award from Decanter Magazine, along with many other accolades.