Ridge Vineyards’ 50th Anniversary Harvest Celebration

We attended the Ridge Vineyards 50th Anniversary Harvest Celebration last weekend.  I’m literally smiling as I type this because the lyrics to Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” (with a nod to the Isley Bros for “Footstep In The Dark” track) are running through my head as I reflect on the magnificence of the day.  I’m not trippin’ on the gangsta rap lyrics in the song  because behind the lyrics is a message – It’s the simple pleasures in life that bring us the most pleasure.  Yeah…it was one of those days for me..

First of, it turned out to be a surprisingly beautiful day.  When we left the house, it was overcast and the jackets were packed, but as we drove South, the clouds gave way to the sun, and by the time we arrived at the top of Monte Bello Ridge, it was pure gorgeousness.  The kind of day that inspires a smile, even now, as I think  of it now…It’s the simple things…

Gorgeous Day on Monte Bello Ridge with panoramic view of the entire Bay Area
Gorgeous Day on Monte Bello Ridge with panoramic views of the entire Bay Area

While the gorgeous weather was an unexpected, great wine, food, and hospitality are always expected when you go to a Ridge event (ain’t no party like a Ridge party!) Despite my considerably high expectations, Ridge continues to over-deliver.  For example, I can’t say I’ve had a better “starter” wine to wet the whistle and prepare my taste buds for the resplendent Ridge reds than than this one…

  • 2010 Ridge Chardonnay Estate – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Light straw yellow color with tropical fruit, butterscotch, and vanilla aromas. n the palate it’s smooth with nice amplitude, and acidity accompanied by apple, pineapple, butterscotch, and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. (90 pts.)
There were some cool signs posted around the barn so there was a rustic museum-y thing going on…
Ridge Landmark signs
One of several Ridge signs denoting significant historical moments in Ridge’s history

I did my tasting thing before indulging in any wood-fired pizza prepared by  Pizza Politana (um…my wife and her friend got busy…yeah..it was basically see ya later…sucka!).

Here’s my tasting notes…

  • 2010 Ridge Zinfandel Ponzo Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (Suggested Pizza pairing; Housemade Pork Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, Mozzarella, Fresh Tomato Sauce)Medium garnet color with bright raspberry, cherry, mineral, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with black cherry, raspberry, mineral and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 96% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah. (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Ridge Zinfandel Pagani Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
    Dark garnet color with aromatic kirsch, brown sugar, and slight smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fruity – yet balanced with black cherry, raspberry, and spice flavors. Long finish. 82% Zinfandel, 16% Alicanted Bouschet, 2% Petite Sirah (91 pts.)  My wine of the day!  It was an other worldly pairing with the suggested Smithfield Ham, Fromage Blanc, Arugula & Nectarine pizza!
  • 2009 Ridge Monte Bello – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (Suggested Pizza Pairing; Fennel Salami, Mushroom, Smoked Mozzarella & Parmesan)
    Garnet color with earthy, dark fruit aromas that reveal themselves over time. I vividly recall now – 24 hours later how I stuck my in the empty glass this wine was in, and it offered lifted roast coffee aromas I didn’t pick up on when I first sniffed this wine…On the palate, it’s full-bodied, with cherry, cassis earthy, and mineral flavors Long finish. This one is Lebron James at age 17 – you just know it will evolve to greatness, but it’s not there yet. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% petit verdot (93 pts.)

Ridge always has a sumthin’ sumthin’ wine-wise that’s not on the menu when go to one of their events…but before I get to that..the pizza (actually it was so damn good let’s go with  capital “P”)…the Pizza….viola! Le menu!

Pizza Politana

I would have loved to taken a pretty picture of a full pie, they disappears so damn fast that was impossible!

My favorite – Smithfield Ham, Fromage Blanc, Arugula & Nectarine pizza!

After tasting in the barn it was back down in the tasting room where these three beauties awaited…

  • 2010 Ridge Lytton Springs – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
    Carmine color with fresh dark fruit, kirsch, brown sugar, and herbal aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, fresh, round and with a nervy acidity, and black cherry and spice flavors. Long finish. Approachable now but will get better with time. 67% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, 7% Carignane, 3% Mataro. (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Ridge Zinfandel Lytton Estate – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
    Garnet color with slightly earthy dark fruit, and leather aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied with black cherry, raspberry, and plum flavors. Long finish. 71% Zinfandel, 29% Petite Sirah (92 pts.)
  • 2003 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Estate – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Brickish red-brown color with cassis, earth, leather and dark fruit aromas. On the palate, it medium-full bodied and exceedingly smooth with blueberry, cassis. Long finish. This one was the “Most Interesting Man In The World” wine of the day- smooth, sophisticated, and debonair.  Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc (91 pts.)
After we had our fill of wine and pizza, we decided – Enough sampling already and threw down for a bottle…
found a few chairs under a shady olive tree, and savored the day while listening to the dulcet sounds of “Real Time” – a fantastic Jazz band that laid down a funk-laced instrumental version of the Stylistic’s classic “People Make The World Go Round” that was one if the best I’ve ever heard!
Real Time puttin’ it down!
It’s truly the simple things –  like sitting under a shady tree surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see, on a absolutely beautiful sunny day, sated with PIzza perfectly paired with great wine, and with a great glass of wine in hand chillin’ to some great Jazz….Yeah…It was a good day!