Ridge Vineyards Makes a Mistake…and A Great Point

Ridge Ridge Vineyards made a mistake…and a good point.

Yesterday, at my front door, I signed for a package of Ridge Vineyards' newest vintages, including their Estate Chardonnay. I happen to be very fond of the Chardonnay that is produced from the Monte Bello Vineyard high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. However, I didn't order this Chardonnay. It was sent to me as press samples.

I'm not going to review these wines. But they'll get drunk. I can promise that. Still, it was probably a mistake for Ridge to send me these wines because wines are never reviewed here. Or was it a mistake?

Inside the package, along with really amazingly detailed sheets on how the wines were made and the the specifics (the VERY specifics) of the vineyards, was an article by Ridge winemaker and CEO Paul Draper on  the winery's "Pre-Industrial" winemaking techniques.

Draper sets out by noting he's not really sure what the current and trendy notion of "Natural Wines" means. Ok…I'm with him on that.

Then Draper goes on to note all the various ways in which wine is made or transformed into that soft, velvety, undistinguished liquid that that the proponents of "natural wine" disdain. It's a pretty long list of technological marvels and tricky baits and switches.

But what Draper then points out, in defense of his homeland, is that while California wines seem to have born the brunt of the accusitory brush of Manipulated Wines, it is a fact that the Europeans too have indulged significantly in the creation of this simple style of wines, and through a variety of methods.

Draper is of course correct about this, and the long held thought by some that Californian winemakers are primarily guilty of creating manipulated wine for the masses is nonsense. Yet, Draper's defense of Californina, such as it is, is a fairly rare thing. While Californian winemakers and California wine tend to come in for an inordinate amount of criticism and brushing off, particularly by overseas dwellers, it is very rare to see a Californian stand up and make a defense by pointing the finger back at them.

My view is that a little bit of chauvinism is a good thing. And maybe a little bit more is called for at times.

While not reviewed, the Ridge wine will be drunk and when it is a special toast will be made to Paul Draper.

4 Responses

  1. Thomas Pellechia - April 21, 2011

    As a once wine salesman, I never cottoned to the concept of selling the brands I represented by way of defense against or denigration of another brands.
    In my view, your story should be your story, and it should be the best positive story that you can tell, the operative on “positive.”

  2. Fredric Koeppel - April 21, 2011

    Everyone knows that you don’t review wine, Tom, though it was certainly not a mistake for Paul Draper and Ridge to make a point in that way. I on the other hand review wine on my blog constantly, and Ridge does not and never has, not in nearly 27 years of writing about wine, sent me samples. So I’ll be happy to relieve you of that “mistake.” I’ll send you the address…

  3. Holly Peters - April 22, 2011

    If we made a mistake and sent you one of our wine racks would you also “not” review it to the same extent? 🙂

  4. Mark - April 22, 2011

    I agree there Tom…..I don’t think California wineries do enough sales on their own behalf. Frankly speaking, the French do a much better job at attacking other producers than we do. I kid slightly, but can you see the ads against Bordeaux…..”When is the last time you spent $200+ on something and had to wait a decade before you could use it?”
    Maybe the laid back Southern California attitude pervades up north more than we initially thought!

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