Our ten-question series with Paul Draper continues today with question #2!
2- You are a big enthusiast of Santa Cruz Mountains terroir. How is it different from Napa Valley?
There are two major differences between our vineyards on Monte Bello ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the best vineyards in Napa Valley. First, most of the vines on Monte Bello have their roots in limestone subsoils. There is no limestone in Napa Valley. My French winemaker friends think this is important because limestone soils are prized in France for the minerality they contribute to the wines. Second, and more important in my view, is that the elevation of our vineyards ranges from 1,600 to 2,600 feet and their proximity within sight of the Pacific Ocean 15 miles to the west gives us a considerably cooler climate than Napa Valley. We are even cooler at night than Bordeaux but slightly warmer during the day. We are above the summer fogs so we can fully ripen the grapes, but the cooler temperatures give us brighter, fresher fruit and firmer acidity. Over the last fifty years our alcohol levels have averaged between 12.9% and 13.1%. Those of the top wines of Napa Valley have averaged over 15% for the last fifteen years.
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(“10 Questions for Paul Draper” questions composed by Rodrigo Mainardi of Mistral, Brazlian Distributor for Ridge Vineyards)