Ridge Winery began in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1962. It made its first Zinfandel in 1964, and its first "Geyserville" (Sonoma County) bottling in 1966. It now has wineries in both the Santa Cruz Mountains and in Sonoma County.
Ridge, a bit of a Zin specialist, is one of the famous "Three Rs" of California Zinfandel (Ridge, Ravenswood, Rosenblum … all making Zinfandel a specialty). Ridge is also distinctive in making proprietary wines, rather than just varietal wines. Look at the Ridge 2008 Lytton Springs label: It isn't a varietal Zinfandel (that would require a minimum of 75% Zinfandel). Like other Ridge wines, this is a vineyard blend (all varietals grown together in the same vineyard) bottled under a proprietary name: "Lytton Springs."
This is 74 percent Zinfandel, 21 percent Petite Sirah, and 5 percent Carignane. It's 14.4 percent alcohol … modest, for California Zinfandel these days. The suggested retail price is $35.00.
The aromas have lots of dark cherry and raspberry and are quite extracted, with more pepperiness than many Zinfandels. The nose opens up with aeration, offering riper, rounder character. The flavors add some blackberry character to the fruit found in the aromas, along with a slight malic character and a very firm structure, leading into a modestly earthy finish with hints of vanilla and spice. This is a ripe, full, lush wine, with the alcohol held in check, fine structure, and an appealing finish.
Ridge has been making Lytton Springs since 1972, and purchased the vineyard in 1991. The Lytton Springs vineyard is on rolling benchland north of Healdsburg in Sonoma County (in the hills separating the Alexander Valley from the Dry Creek Valley). This head trained (no trellis wires) vineyard includes century vine Zinfandel, as well as Petite Sirah, Carignane, Grenache and Mataro (Mourvedre).
This, like all of Ridge's classic collection of Zinfandel vineyard blends, is definitely worth seeking out.
DAH is David Anthony Hance at ZinSite.com and SteampunkWines.com