Ridge Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountain California Wine Cabernet Sauvignon

Ridge Vineyards1 Ridge Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountain California Wine Cabernet Sauvignon

Everything about Ridge Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains California Cabernet Sauvignon wine producer profile, wine tasting notes, wine and food pairing tips, best vintages, history of the property, information on their wine making techniques, terroir and soil. You can also read about the Grapes used for California wine and learn about the extensive History of Napa Valley, California Wines

Ridge History, Overview

Ridge Vineyards has a rich history as a California wine producing estate that dates all the way back to 1885. During the waning days of America’s wild west, a San Francisco doctor, Osea Perrone purchased 180 acres of land on the Monte Bello Ridge. Perrone began planting the vineyard following year. Osea Perrone built the original winery for the property in 1886. Skipping ahead to 1949, the new owner, William Short replanted the vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon on the Monte Bello parcels. The modern era for Ridge Vineyards begins 10 years later in 1959. That was the year three Stanford scientists pooled their money to purchase the estate from William Short. That purchase marked the official start of Ridge Vineyards in the modern age.

The 1960’s were an important decade for Ridge Vineyards. The Doctors bought the now famous Monte Bello vineyard, produced their first vintage of Geyserville as well as the debut vintage for Ridge Monte Bello vineyards, the 1962. Ridge Montebello became the first, important, vineyard designated wine in California. A few years later, the young Paul Draper joined the company as their wine maker. In 1971, Ridge was the first producer to make a vineyard designated wine from the famous Eisele vineyard. The extremely rare wine was only produced in that one vintage. Paul Draper was quoted as saying the reason they did not produce additional vintages is that the wine was too high in alcohol at its then 12.5% level. In 1986, Ridge Vineyards was acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.  Paul Draper remained with the company and eventually instituted sustainable farming techniques. Ridge Vineyards shifted to 100% organic farming techniques by 1999.

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Ridge Vineyards, Wines, Winemaking

Much of the success for the wines of Ridge Vineyards is due to their terroir. The vineyards are located in perhaps the coolest, if the not coldest terroir in California for growing wine grapes. Situated only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the vineyard site for the estates top wine, Ridge Monte Bello vineyard is located at extremely high elevations that range from 1,300 feet 2,700 feet above sea level. The higher elevations were where the owners first planted vines for the production of Ridge Mont Bello. Aside from the elevation, the soils contained large deposits of limestone.

The flagship wine for Ridge Vineyards is Monte Bello. The wine is aged in a combination of 95% American Oak and 5% French oak. Ridge Vineyards owns a whopping 525 acres planted with vines. Of that total, 125 acres belong to the Monte Bello Vineyard. Ridge Monte Bello uses mostly American Oak barrels. There is a second wine for Ridge Montebello, Santa Cruz Vineyards.

Ridge Vineyards produces a massive array of wine including Chardonnay, Petit Sirah, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, proprietary blends, assorted Rhone varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon and their flagship wine, Ridge Monte Bello. Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello is probably the sole remaining California wine that was known for producing outstanding wine in the 1960’s and 1970’s that is still on top of their game today. The wine ages for decades and remains popular with wine lovers. In total, Ridge Vineyards produces close to 100,000 cases of wine per vintage.

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For all the grape varietals produced by Ridge Vineyards, the vineyards are not all situated in the Santa Cruz mountains. They have vines in Sonoma, the Alexander Valley and Paso Robles as well. Their oldest vines are used to produce Zinfandel and the Geyserville blend that comes from 130 year old vines.

Ridge Vineyards is the first, popular, California wine produce to embrace the concept of providing consumer with back labels that provide a list of all the additive ingredients found in wine. The list includes items like; indigenous yeast, naturally occurring malolactic bacteria, oak, calcium carbonate, sulfur dioxide, tartaric acid, minimum effective S O2 and egg whites.

With the 2011 vintage, Ridge Vineyards began producing a wine from 100% Petit Verdot, Torre Petit Verdot from the Monte Bello Vineyard. Only 275 cases are produced each year.

Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay is whole-cluster pressed, barrel fermented, and held on its lees for close to 11 months. For Red and white wines, the wines are racked, unfiltered and aged in 100% American oak. 

Serving and Decanting Ridge wines with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips

Ridge Vineyards wines are best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Young vintages of their red wine can be decanted for 1-3 hours, depending on the character of the vintage. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment.

The red wine of Ridge Vineyards is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, ribs, hamburgers, barbecue, roasted, braised, grilled dishes and stews. Ridge Vineyards is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, salmon, mushrooms and pasta.

The white wine of Ridge Vineyards is best served with all types of seafood and shellfish, sushi, sashimi, chicken, veal, pork and cheese.


Ridge Wine Tasting Notes

29 Vintages 161,130 Views Sort by Vintage-Rating

2014Ridge Petite Sirah Lytton Estate  (Dry Creek Valley)90

With a deep, dark color, with the wine is big, robust and backwards, with a blast of dark berries, but it is slightly monolithic, hence the good, but not great score.

2,856 Views   Tasted
2014Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate  (Dry Creek Valley)85

Lots of bright, peppery, crisp red fruits on the nose, but on the palate, the wine is tannic, tight and drying in the finish. This could improve, but I am not sure how much.

1,873 Views   Tasted
2014Ridge Carignane Buchignani Ranch  (Sonoma County)82

Rustic, drying, harsh textures with sharp, crisp, bright red fruits and spice. This is clearly not my style of wine.

1,682 Views   Tasted
2012Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)95

Don't confuse 2012 Ridge Monte Bello with all those lush, sexy wines from Napa Valley, because you will be sorely disappointed. That being said, this is a beauty, but in a completely different style. From a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot, this wine would be quite at home in the Left Bank Bordeaux, with its crisp, fresh, ripe, but firm tannic structure. The fruit has a great sense of purity, and a crisp, vibrant character, that will demand 10-15 years of age. If you have the patience, it will be worth the wait. My treasured 1991 Ridges are now drinking great, and I am sure this will age along the same path.

12,415 Views   Tasted
2010Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)93

On the fresh, bright, crisp, structured side of the style range, the wine is powerful, restrained, firm and you would expect, quite young. Give it another 8-10 years of sleep and lets see what we really have. Ridge Monte Bello has such a great track record for aging, I am sure it will be worth the wait.

4,750 Views   Tasted
2010Ridge Carignane  (Central Coast)82

Earthy, bright, cherry, red berry, light, short. Not much fun to taste.

1,691 Views   Tasted
2009Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)96

Clearly Ridge is the most consistent producer of quality Cabernet Sauvignon over the past several decades. Classic is often a pejorative term when used for California wine. That is not the case. Blending 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot, not that different than what you might from a top estate in the Medoc the wine pops with fresh, blackberry, earth, oak and spice. Full bodied, concentrated and structured to age, there is symmetry to the wine and a softness to the ripe sweet tannins that feels great on the palate. I like trying these young when I can, before I lay them down to sleep for a decade or two. I am just now starting to pop my 1991's.

8,597 Views   Tasted
2008Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)95

It's all about the potential here with this stunner. From a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot, the wine is ripe, powerful, balanced, complex and rich. Ridge Monte Bello takes a long time to come around, but it's worth the wait.

8,508 Views   Tasted
2007Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)93

A fresher, bright, crisp, focused styled wine here, with sweet, dark, red berries, earth, tobacco and a blackberries. Blind, I thought it was a Left Bank Bordeaux. Classic and classy in character, this should be even better with another 5 or more years in the bottle.

7,857 Views   Tasted

Ripe aromas of licorice, blackberry, vanilla and earth, rich, full bodied, concentrated, tannic and structured to age, this elegantly styled, California Cabernet Sauvignon, made from a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc is a perfect ringer to insert into a blind tasting of California versus Bordeaux.

9,312 Views   Tasted 93
2007Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate  (Dry Creek Valley)91

With 12% Vioginer blended with Syrah, the wine offers a juicy mouthful of spice, earth, back raspberry, blackberry, pepper, herbs and earth. Rich textures, good freshness and a plush, dark berry finish. Give this another year or two to soften and develop.

1,766 Views   Tasted
2006Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)93

Still young, this tannic, fresh, crisp, crunchy, concentrated, full bodied wine offers a lot of potential. But 5-10 more years are needed before the blackberries, cassis, oak and earth come together, soften and become fun to drink. The wine was made from a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc.

5,262 Views   Tasted
2006Ridge Syrah/Grenache Lytton Estate  (Dry Creek Valley)88

Spicy, jammy, peppery blackberries, good concentration, with a drying sensation in the finish.

1,919 Views   Tasted
2005Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)95

From a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc, this Bordeaux styled expression of California Cabernet Sauvignon is another winner from perhaps one of the most consistent producers in the Golden State. Deep in color, with a nose packed with licorice, coffee, cassis, earth, smoke and spice, it's powerful, full bodied, tannic, concentrated and harmonious. Ridge Monte Bello is a contender for the California Cabernet Sauvignon that demands the most aging before it matures. I'd leave it for at least another 10-15 years if you want to enjoy its display of secondary aromas and textures that accompany old Monte Bello.

7,944 Views   Tasted
2002Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)93

From a blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot, the wine remains deeply colored. With a nose of truffle, cassis, tobacco, blackberry, dark cherry, earth and smoke, this concentrated, dense, full bodied, tannic wine needs time in the cellar to come around fully. Ridge Monte Bello is one of the best California Cabernet Sauvignon wines for aging, give it 5-10 more years.

4,218 Views   Tasted
2001Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)96

The first bottle from the case is always fun to taste, as you do not know what to expect. I was not let down. From a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot, the wine pops with cassis, blackberry, earth, spice, tobacco and forest floor notes. Big, rich, concentrated and packed with layers of ripe, juicy, dark berries, soft tannins and freshness, everything is in place for a long life. This is still young. For a wine that's over a decade old, the color still looks like a young wine! You can either enjoy in its earth, or lay it down for another decade or more. When mature, this will probably deserve another Pt or two! It's really great example of California Caberent Sauvignon.

6,705 Views   Tasted
2000Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)91

Tobacco, earth, cigar box, cassis and fennel aromatics opened to a medum/full bodied wine of freshness, soft textures, cassis and blackberries. This is not a wine of depth and power. It's about freshness meshed with elegance. There is no need to hold this wine as it's probably in prime time drinking mode today.

7,552 Views   Tasted
1997Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)92

Medium/full bodied, with a fresh, vibrant, crisp, clean personality, the serves up a beautiful display of fresh, ripe, cherries and plums with the right amount of lift to keep things going. But it lacks the weight and depth of the better vintages for this often stunning wine.

5,524 Views   Tasted

This must be the earliest drinking vintage of Ridge Monte Bello I have ever tasted. This forward Cabernet Sauvignon offers earth, cassis, blackberry, tobacco and forest floor aromas. Medium/full bodied and soft in texture, for Ridge, this is not a vintage that requires additional cellaring. It's already drinking perfecly today.

7,850 Views   Tasted 93
1996Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)95

Tobacco, peppery herbs and blackberries on the nose move to a fresh, crisp, juicy, refreshing mouthful full of ripe, juicy, sweet fruits. This is quite stylish.

3,097 Views   Tasted

If anyone wanted to state Ridge Montebello is the best example of a classic style of California Cabernet Sauvignon, I'm going to agree with them. This stunning wine is just what the doctor ordered, with its concentrated layers of fresh dark berries, earth, spice and tobacco scented personality. Mouth filling, multi-layered, long rich, the wine builds in the mouth and captures your attention with each additional sniff, swirl and sip. Still young, this should age for decades.

4,978 Views   Tasted 97
1995Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)92

Is this the longest lived California Cabernet Sauvignon produced today? Perhaps, as this is still so young, fresh and vibrant, in color, aromatics and flavors, I was thinking this was 10 years younger than its true age. Medium/full bodied, with a real freshness to the red fruits, with liberal doses of smoke, tobacco and forest floor sensations. As a guess, 5 more years should add more softness, but this will always be on the classic, bright side of the style range. The wine was produced from blending 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. It is interesting note that starting with the 1995 vintage, the blending was conducted later, during the aging process.

3,695 Views   Tasted
1994Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)93

I’m always going to be a sucker for this style of wine. Freshness, power, ripe fruit and the structure to age, what’s not to like? The wine lacks the same level of concentration found in the best vintages, but the style remains the same. Age this, or pop a bottle now, either way it’s a treat.

2,984 Views   Tasted

If I needed to pick a wine that exemplifies the classic style of California Cabs, I’d pick Montebello. Combining red & black fruits with spices, herbs and licorice notes, blind, I might have guessed St Julien.

2,373 Views   Tasted 94
1994Ridge Geyserville  (Sonoma County)89

Slightly past its prime, but this charmer offered a lot of earth, spice and tobacco character. I remember this from years ago. The fruit is not what it used to be. But most of us are not what we used to be either. Drink up.

4,136 Views   Tasted
1992Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)90

Tobacco, cassis, earth and spicy dark berry scents led to a medium/full bodied, tannic wine. It was surprising to find this much tannin in a 20 year old Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine felt dry in the mouth and could be seen as an austere style of Ridge. It shows like it needs more time. but at 20 years of age, it is what it is. Some tasters are clearly going to enjoy this wine more than I did. I sensed the quality, but this blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc did not offer nearly as much pleasure as the 1991.

4,779 Views   Tasted
1991Ridge Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)92

At close to 20 years of age is still young. This powerful, concentrated, dense wine is filled with rich, ripe black fruit, anise and cassis aromatics. While the wine offers ample concentration, there was a lack of complexity.

5,593 Views   Tasted

This powerful, concentrated, dense wine is filled with rich, ripe black fruit, anise and cassis aromatics. While the wine offers ample concentration, there was a lack of complexity.

5,513 Views   Tasted 93
1985Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)93

Drinking perfectly today, with a nose dominated by earth, dark red and black fruits, wood and tobacco, the wine was round, clean, fresh and pure, finishing with ripe red and black fruits. It's not the 1991, but it's a very nice example of a mature, traditional, California, Caberent Sauvignon.

3,644 Views   Tasted
1974Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)95

The color was dark. On the nose scents of cedar, flowers, mocha, chocolate and herbs filled the glass. Full bodied with a slightly tannic finish. The mouth rejoices in a bath of red & black fruit. The finish was long.

3,196 Views   Tasted
1974Ridge Lytton Springs  (Dry Creek Valley)93

Unbelievably good wine. Served blind, it was a dead ringer for a very good, fully mature, Chateauneuf du Pape. The fruit here was still going strong. Kirsch, kirsch and more kirsch, with pepper and herbs, soft, elegant textures and freshness remained. This was purchased on release and perfectly store all these years, so your YMMV.

1,225 Views   Tasted
1971Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard  (Napa Valley)97

There are some wines that due to their extreme rarity and so elusive, I never think I am going to taste it. 1971 Ridge Eisele was one of those wines. I will probably never see another bottle. But the experience is not one I will forget. Spice box, coconut, earth, black cherry liqueur, tobacco, cedar and fennel notes were enough to keep my interest. On the palate, the wine is soft, clean, fresh and packed with blackberry and cherry notes. This was still going strong at over 40 years of age.

4,233 Views   Tasted
1969Ridge Riesling  (Santa Cruz Mountains)55

Sporting an orange hue, this wine proves what happens when you blend vasoline with gasoline and wine. Vile is how I would describe it. But, I admit, others enjoyed the wine more than I. The wine, a rare bottle was late picked and the label read 13.5 alcohol. The 5 points were added for being wet.

1,951 Views   Tasted
1968Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello  (Santa Cruz Mountains)96

WOW! The blast of tobacco, cedar wood, smoke, herbs and cassis could have come from Pauillac, and a serious Classified Growth at that. Full-bodied, a little rustic, but long and dense, the wine is rough and ready, leaving you with a lengthy flash of red fruits and herbs.

1,452 Views   Tasted