Featured Winery: Ridge Monte Bello

The Ridge Monte Bello Winery located in the hills above Santa Cruz...

   Ridge remains a perennial favorite of red wine lovers everywhere.  As one of the premier producers of California wine, it makes for a compelling visit for any wine trekker venturing into the environs south of San Francisco.

   Sitting high atop a ridge in the coastal range of the Santa Cruz mountains, this land has produced wines for generations.  Osea Perrone, an American of Italian descent, first planted vineyards on what is now the site of this eminent winery in 1885.  The modern Ridge winery first took over the vineyards in 1960, and their first vintage of wine came in 1962.  In 1964 they first planted Zinfandel. Ridge’s Zins eventually evolved into becoming some of the most prized examples of that varietal.  Most of those stellar Zinfandels emanate from grapes produced in Sonoma County.  Ridge showcases these wines from its Lytton Springs winery in the Dry Creek Valley north of Healdsburg, California.

Wine tasting in Ridge’s lovely tasting room, courtesy of our excellent host, Lauren...

The Monte Bello Vineyard...

   Winemaking at Ridge emphasizes a “minimalist” style, relying on 19th style but incorporating it with the best but least intrusive modern equipment to facilitate the production of a modern wine with old world nuances.  The Cabernet Sauvignon vines that produce fruit that eventually makes the Monte Bello Cab were originally planted in the 1940s.  All grapes are harvested by hand, and no pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers are utilized in caring for the vineyard.  After harvesting, a careful selection process, again by hand, assures that only the best fruit finds its way into the wine. Only native yeasts are used in the fermenting process. 

    Recently voted the finest winery in America by the online publication Daily Meal, Ridge requires an appointment except on weekends, when it has visiting hours from 11 am until 5 pm.  Tastings range from $5.00 to $20.00, with the latter including a taste of the exclusive Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon.  For an estate tasting, which includes a full tour of the premises and a generous tasting of premium wines, the cost is $25.00.  These take place only with an advanced reservation, at either 11:00 a.m. or at 2:00 p.m.  I would highly recommend the estate tasting.

   Ridge Monte Bello lies tucked away in the Santa Cruz mountains at 17100 Monte Bello Road, Cupertino, California, 95014.  Allow yourself plenty of time to get there.  It’s a long and winding road, but the wine, tour and views make the journey well worth the effort.  Besides the excellent wine, the winery offers panoramic scenery from its airy venue.  Our knowledgeable guide, Lauren, proved an excellent and friendly host.  For the estate tour or weekday visits call for an appointment at 408-867-3233. 

  Despite their longstanding success with Zinfandel, Ridge is best known for producing one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons in the new world; the iconic Monte Bello.  This wine regularly garners some of the highest scores for Cabernet Sauvignon from wine critics.  The grapes for this fantastic wine come from the Monte Bello vineyard on Ridge’s venue here above Santa Cruz.