AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello
Wine region: Santa Cruz Mountains
Standout points: California’s top Cabernets, including the legendary Monte Bello
Winemaker: Paul Draper
Wine style: Ultra-premium single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel
Situated just 15km from the Pacific at around 700m altitude in the northern reaches of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monte Bello Estate is a wine enthusiast destination par excellence. One of two Ridge estates (the other being Lytton Springs in Sonoma), it gives such enthusiasts an unparalleled opportunity to sample some of California’s most coveted single-vineyard wines. From the Ridge Monte Bello through to the Geyserville Zinfandel, these are some of the modern-day icons that put California on the world wine map.
Birth of a legend
The history of Ridge Vineyards began in 1885, when Italian emigré Osea Perrone purchased 72ha (180 acres) of vineyard land on the Monte Bello Ridge. The first Monte Bello wine was bottled in 1892, but it was not until the late 1950s, when Stanford Research Institute engineers and hobbyist winemakers Dave Bennion, Hew Crane, Charlie Rosen, and Howard Ziedler came on the scene that Ridge began to develop the reputation it carries today. In 1969, Paul Draper joined the partnership and under his practical, low-intervention philosophy, refined over more than 43 vintages, the international standing of Ridge has been confirmed.
The view from the Ridge
With its stunning views overlooking the entire Silicon Valley, a visit to the estate offers the opportunity to walk through historic vineyards that have produced some of the best Californian Cabernet, as well as taking in the Ridge Old Winery barn, VIP room, courtyard terrace and brand-new knoll deck overlooking the vines. Ridge’s Estate Tour and Tasting is available seven days a week by reservation (NB: small groups visiting Monte Bello on a weekend do not require a reservation), with three unique tasting flights available: ‘Single-Vineyard’ ($10), ‘Estate Single-Vineyard’ ($15), and ‘Estate Single-Vineyard w/ Monte Bello’ ($25, including a tasting of the flagship Monte Bello).