By Melissa Unsell
An enduring, rustic 15 mile climb up the Santa Cruz mountains has me eager and full of joy. We make our ascent with our first destination being Ridge Vineyards.
The destination just may take your breath away. Upon arriving, I almost stumble clumsily because I’m too busy looking down at Silicon Valley below (see images in slideshow above). It doesn’t take me long to notice the “beware of rattlesnakes” sign either. Yup, this is upscale rustic at its finest. I’m happily realizing that I’m thankful for visiting this place during the week (reservations only) rather than a normal weekend tasting where tours and intimate tastings are non-existent. Although the place is astonishing, they don’t offer weddings or evening events because getting back down the mountain after a few glasses of wine, plus the added obstacle of darkness (complete darkness – no street lights on this mountain) makes the trek down nearly impossible to the Santa Cruz novice.
We venture off to begin the tour. We start in the original barn where the winemakers made the first batches of Ridge. You can see photos here of the labor and love.
We then make our way to the tasting room where we are greeted with a leather bound tasting menu, crystal stemware, and a lovely cheese platter.
We started with the 2010 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) (Santa Cruz Mountains) (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc). The grapes were hand harvested and fermented on the native yeasts. For this vintage there was an unusually cool summer, causing slowed growth. The crop was thinned substainally in an effort to insure full ripeness. This wine provides a palate explosion of great tannic structure with hints of tobacco, cassis, and black fruit. It can be enjoyed now, and will develop fully over the next decade.