The 50th Anniversary Monte Bello and the Next 50 Years


With the 2012 vintage of Monte Bello, Ridge celebrates fifty years of fine winemaking.

When, in 1969, I was offered the opportunity to become Ridge winemaker, the partners opened their ‘62 and ‘64 Monte Bellos for me to taste. One of the partners, Dave Bennion, had made a half-barrel of wine from 1959 Monte Bello grapes. Before that, none of them had ever made wine. They let natural yeasts ferment the grapes, did not fine or filter, and made only minimal additions of SO2. In those years, when all wines were inexpensive, I had tasted the great Bordeaux vintages from ’45 to ’49, outstanding late 1930s California cabernets from Inglenook, and from La Cuesta in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Ridge ‘62 and ‘64 were in a class with the best Bordeaux, and as complex as those 1930s cabernets. I realized that, by great good fortune, the Ridge founders had happened upon an outstanding vineyard—one whose cool climate and limestone soils were shown to best advantage by their minimalist winemaking. I knew that if I joined them I would have the chance to make some exceptional wines. Time has not proved me wrong. Monte Bello is among the finest and longest-lived of California wines.

Having assembled and trained a team devoted to the philosophy of single-vineyard winemaking and minimal intervention, we look forward to another fifty years of learning from our vineyards and striving each year for higher quality. This talented, long-tenured group includes David Gates, Vice-President, Vineyard Operations, who began managing the vineyards in 1989; Eric Baugher, Vice-President of Winemaking, Monte Bello, who joined us in 1994; and John Olney, Vice-President of Winemaking, Lytton Springs, who came to Ridge in 1996. I have mentored them informally over the years, but they have brought us their own ideas, insight, and intelligence. They will carry Ridge—and all that it represents—well into the future.

—Paul Draper, Head Winemaker and CEO


To Purchase the 2012 Monte Bello, Click Here >

To View 50 Years of Monte Bello Labels, Click Here >

To Watch Winemaker Eric Baugher Taste and Talk About the 2012, Click Here >


Categories: Monte Bello

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1 reply

  1. When I first began tasting California cabernets (Napa Cabs only) in the mid to late 1960s, the most expensive cabernet on the market was BVPR at the princely sum of $7.00 a bottle. Then, people of modest means could buy a few bottles and learn what great wines were being produced (especially in Rutherford). In the 1970s, especially after the 1976 Paris tasting, cabernets costing up to $20 started appearing on the market, but still one could find excellent examples for under $10. Sadly, those halcyon days are gone, and if one is a wine lover, he or she will have to have very deep pockets indeed to obtain superb examples of the wine maker’s art (as far a Cabernet Sauvignon is concerned). And for old geezers like me, the 20+ year time line to wait for such wines to age to their potential is an impractical situation. Tis the way of things, I guess. Best wishes for the next 50 years, Ridge Vineyards… and many thanks for fond memories of picnics at the Monte Bello road tasting rooms (with young, delicious examples of Geyserville Zin).

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