Sunday, February 17, 2013

On Top of the World: A Trip to Ridge Wine - Now with Certified Vineyards!

A beautiful view from the top of the world at Ridge
Saturday I finally had a chance to visit Ridge Wine, atop the hills above Cupertino...and what a glorious spot it is.

This grande dame of California Cabs and Zin rightly earned her place in the wine firmament in the famed Judgement of Paris in 1976 and then re-upped in the rematch 30 years later in 2006 in the top spot over some of the most famous red wines of France. (See photos below).

Display at Ridge tasting room showing the 1976 and 2006 Paris tastings 

Since that time the winery also bought superb vineyards in the Dry Creek region in Sonoma where it also makes righteously famous Zins - some from 100 year old vines.

The good news now is that after a long time of growing wine grapes organically Ridge has made the decision to become certified organic. About 40% of the vineyards have been certified; more are in transition. (It takes three years of being organic to be certified.)

I asked hospitality and retail sales manager Christopher Watkins, at Ridge's Montebello tasting room  why the winery decided to become certified and he said the winery's wholesalers recommended it. (This makes me curious to speak to someone higher up in the wine distribution chain to see what they are thinking, researching, and analyzing to bring them to this recommendation.)

Certification (Made with Organic Grapes) will begin to appear on the labels of the 2012 releases, Watkins said.

Enjoy these photos from my visit...

The old vines atop the ridge at "The Knob" by the picnic spot
Picnic area, looking up towards The Knob view point
Tasting room in the end of the day light
Tasting room display
Tasting menu - note: the more reasonably priced "Estate Cabernet" is out of stock in tasting room; but you can find some of it to buy online. The Ridge web site still has magnums for sale.

I searched online after visiting the winery and bought a case of the Estate online from elsewhere. 

My friend joined the Collectors wine club (the only way to get a good deal on Montebello) - their famous Cab (Bordeaux blend) - rated 98 points by Robert Parker (for those who count points).

Their Collectors Wine Club costs about $300 a year and for that you get two futures bottles of Montebello (list price $160 a bottle; for club members $90), and then you must also take a minimum of 3 additional bottles each year. 

Ridge is a true part of California's wine legacy. A trip to the tasting room doesn't involve a vineyard tour or many of the trappings one gets at many a Napa winery, but it gets to the point - great wine, consistently produced great wine over a long long span of time, and world class bragging rights - all right here in our own backyard.

And now - it's certified organic fruit! 

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