Home California Visiting with Paul Draper at Ridge Monte Bello Vineyards

Visiting with Paul Draper at Ridge Monte Bello Vineyards


We’re Moving!

I am in the middle of packing up our house in Flagstaff, Arizona, to then drive our things to Sonoma County, California, where we will root down and make our good life. The slow down in posts is largely due to my making the adjustment to living in, and planning for living in a new place. I still have a lot of posts from my time in Oregon to update.

Meeting with Paul Draper

Last week I was lucky enough to spend several hours with Paul Draper, of Ridge Vineyards, tasting from barrel (Paul Draper himself pulled me barrel samples–have I mentioned that? I was standing there in the historic cellar caves in awe (getting choked up, and trying to hide it) as this year’s Monte Bello and Geyserville assemblage were handed to me by Mister Draper himself), tasting through part of their current portfolio, and most importantly listening.

Mister Draper was kind enough to talk through with me his views of how to recognize balance in wine and what it means for long term aging, the importance of terroir and how it does (and doesn’t) show itself in wine–plus how it takes patience for us to recognize it, and the long term vision of Ridge. We also, finally, fell into a reflection of how philosophy got him, and Ridge Wine to where he is today. As some of you know, I recently left a career in philosophy, teaching at a university. As I listened to Mister Draper explain that subject to me, I was again and again impressed, and grateful, for how thoroughly integrated into his way of life, and way of business philosophy really is for him. Mister Draper’s vision of wine, and sustaining the Ridge project for generations, arises from his investment in long term moral commitment, with the subtlety of aesthetic judgment, and more importantly his ability to enact those ideas.

I have been reflecting and thinking through our conversation, and can’t wait to write it up, but I am also taking time to reflect. His insights require due diligence on my part. In the meantime, here are pictures from the visit. I’m deeply humbled, and so grateful.

Thank you so much to Paul Draper for taking the time to meeting with me.

Thank you to Amy, Sue, and Sam.

Thank you to Michelle McCue, Dan Fredman, and Kyrsa Dixon.

Happy too to meet Mister Draper’s fantastic dog.

Write up coming soon!


on top of Monte Bello Ridge–2500 feet in elevation

Original vines at Monte Bello are head trained Cabernet–very unusual today

Bordeaux varieties planted on Monte Bello Ridge–Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc.

The Monte Bello site is all fractured limestone, with green rock on top (it turns red when exposed to oxygen). The site is considered an exotic terrain, in that it is unlike any of the areas surrounding it. Monte Bello Ridge is one of the few places in California (perhaps the only one?) that grows Cabernet vines in limestone. (look how wonderfully huge that trunk is)

pulling the second assemblage of Monte Bello 2011–this is likely the final blend, but there will be one more final consideration before bottling later in the Fall

Chardonnay had come in that morning from Monte Bello Estate–Ridge Chardonnay is done entirely whole cluster (and it’s wonderful)

Pulling the current assemblage of Geyserville 2011

Proudly telling me about the history of the Monte Bello caves, dug out of limestone in the 1880s (I love this picture)

Mister Draper’s very friendly (and cute) dog.

What I consistently find in Ridge wines, whether they are just released, from barrel, or older vintages, is an incredible integration of multiple elements–the flavors, and structure consistently work together, even when young and wanting greater age for softening of tannins, or opening up of flavors. I mention this to Mister Draper and then we begin an hour long conversation on balance…

Thank you again to Paul Draper. I am deeply grateful.

Thank you again too to Michelle McCue and Dan Fredman for helping me make the connection.

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