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John Olney, Ridge Lytton Springs

Ridge Lytton Springs ~ April 27, 2010

Ridge VP and Winemaker, John Olney

During our first visit to California wine country back in 1997, our very first stop was (quite appropriately, given our love for all things Ridge) the Ridge Lytton Springs facility, which was then still housed in the old Lytton Springs Winery building.  In 1999, a new eco-friendly facility was built, and Kim and I had yet to visit the place, although we read Allan Bree’s report about it in his impressive “Homage Lytton Springs” some years back.  So, upon our recent return to Sonapanoma for the first time in eight years, we thought it quite fitting that our first site visit should be at the “new” Lytton Springs winery, and, as previously reported, arrangements were made to do so with the help of our friend Christina Donley.

Ridge Production Assistant, Muiris Griffin

Our tour host was none other than Ridge Vice President and Winemaker John Olney, along with Muiris Griffin, LS’ new Production Assistant.  John was most gracious and quite thorough in describing the salient points of the winery’s construction and operation, as our first video demonstrates.  The building is modern and appealing to the eye, without being in any way ostentatious, as the viewer can see.

In our second video, Olney talks at length about Ridge’s philosophy of using American oak barrels, as opposed to French, and how that has evolved over the years.

Click to enlarge

After our walkabout, we adjourned to the Tasting Room for, what else, some tasting!  We made our way through a number of selections, including the 2008 Santa Cruz Mountain Estate Chardonnay, 2006 Monte Bello Chardonnay, 2007 Lytton Springs and 2006 Monte Bello Proprietary Red, and not surprisingly, all were elegant and lovely.  Two that we had yet to taste are noted here, and again, they give great pleasure now and will continue to do so for several years down the road.

2008 Ridge Sonoma Geyserville, 72% Zinfandel, 20% Carignane, 6% Petite Sirah, 2% Mataro, $35.00: Showing clean dark color and beautifully balanced, offering rich raspberry and black raspberry flavors and aromas, underscored with a nice earthiness, and of course, that classic “Draper perfume.”  I love how the earthiness and the richness of fruit play off of each other here. find this wine

2008 Ridge Russian River Valley Zinfandel Ponzo, 98% Zinfandel, 2% Petite Sirah, $28.00: Like everything we taste on this occasion, this is rich, refined and elegant, and exudes a lovely perfume.  John Olney describes it best, remarking that the “exotic fruit” is “the closest thing to Pinot Noir we’re ever going to make.”  Just lovely. find this wine

We also had a little vinegar and olive oil tasting.  Ridge buys the olive oil sold in the Tasting Rooms, but produces its own vinegar, which is very good!  Kim, the Gang’s resident Vinegar Queen, inquired as to whether or not we could visit the Ridge vinegar barn, located on Monte Bello Ridge, but unfortunately, it’s situated on the property of one of the workers there and is not open to the public.  Our third video shows some of the conversation that took place in that regard, and while we may never know whether or not Paul Draper actually “scolded” John for encouraging her to inquire about vinegar making, we can report that Mr. Draper was quite forthcoming and not at all adverse to talking about it.

George Heritier standing amidst the old vines at Ridge Lytton Springs - Click to enlarge

If we lived in the neighborhood, I daresay, we’d be stopping in to Lytton Springs at least once a week.  The setting and the people are just so friendly and unpretentious, and of course, the wines are brilliant.  Many, many thanks to John Olney, Muiris Griffin, Christina Donley and all the fine folks at Ridge who made both of our visits so memorable and exciting.

Reporting from Day-twah,

geo t.

Related posts:

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  2. 6 Late Model Wines from Ridge Vineyards
  3. TN: 1978 Lytton Springs Zinfandel Valley Vista Vineyard (black label)
  4. Ridge Vineyards Wine Dinner at Encore by J. D. Wesley ~ Toledo
  5. Ridge Notes from the Tasting Note Closet

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