It was a wonderful, not too balmy, summer afternoon, when I finally made it back to Ridge Vineyards. I first visited Ridge while attending the ZAP Simply Summer Celebration in 2014. The event was held in their beautiful vineyard so I never got a chance to visit their tasting room nor taste any of their other wines. I knew I had to come back soon but like so many of us,
busy schedules got the best of me and before you know it, two years had passed. Not to mention, the Lytton Springs vineyard is on the far northern end of the greater Sonoma area which is quite a drive from where I live. If only the highway went in a straight line it would be a snap.
Ridge Vineyards is located just north of the town of Healdsburg at the northern end of Sonoma County. It’s not a complicated drive. It’s a single exit off the main highway but don’t confuse that for a road side winery. After exiting the highway, in just minutes, you are transported to rolling hills, countryside, “exhale now” sort of fantastic. I love how wine adventures can do that so effortlessly.
The parking lot is small which is always a good sign for me. It means they plan to pay attention to people and eVehicles rather than crowds. AS you approach the large wooden, corner doors welcoming you into the tasting room, I promise you won’t go in. It’s not a trick, you’ll just turn your head. Just as you approach the doors, the view to the south is a bit eye catching. The blue sky
finding the rolling hills somewhere way out there, row after row mesmerizes the eye all just above the Zin vines right in front your feet. Before you realize it, your group will no longer be near the door, everyone will be steps away from the grapes and someone will say, “So pretty…” Make sure you reply, “He said you’d say that.”
As you enter the large double doors, the winery is spacious and will easily accommodate a large party. Plenty of tasting room counter to flex those swirling elbows so don’t be shy. On the East end of the tasting room, you have to peek into their barrel room. The single pane glass door is easy to find and it almost dares you to put your hands on the glass and peer into the
dark, cavernous space like a young child peeping into a closed Mr. Magorium’s.
Rows of barrels that seem to travel to infinity, stacked to the ceiling like a 6th graders perspective drawing. Both aesthetically pleasing and stacked closely for earthquake safety, the barrels are plain yet beautiful as if by art or engineer or zen master.
You can expect a full and traditional flight to be poured at Ridge. Despite my Zin references, they have a variety of grapes on property. Not to mention, this isn’t their only property. They have another vineyard in the Santa Cruz mountains but if you look for it on a map, it overlooks the “Silicone Valley.” They pour wines from both properties which gives their menu nice depth and variety which is always a plus.
If you chose the basic flight, you may notice that just as your glass gets wet and you begin hearing about the wine, you may notice your pourer staring over your shoulder. Well, remember, that view from the parking lot. From the tasting room counter, it is artistically framed by huge French doors offering a palatial view from floor to ceiling. It is a bit distracting and apparently even so for people that have been working there for years. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
If you choose the premium tasting, you may choose to be seated on their large slab patio right on the edge of the vineyard so you can drink in the view for what seems like an eternity. Definitely an E ticket ride and a great place to loose more time than you planned. Whats better than a well “wasted” afternoon enjoying some great juice and a stunning view?
When I return to Ridge, I will definitely bring a few things along that I forgot this summer. Next time, I won’t forget the cooler because I need to bring a few bottles home. That 100% Merlot for starters. I also won’t forget to bring along the focaccia, sopressata, Mt. Tam and marcona almonds? Finally, don’t forget to bring a few friends. I heard it said that friends are the best therapy. What a wonderful place to have therapy, juice and charcuterie? Be warned, this is a patio that will make you late for your afternoon appointments.
Cheers my friends!
650 Lytton Springs Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
How to get there:
Take 101 North from San Francisco about 70 miles. Just passed Healdsburg, exit Lytton Springs Road, left under the freeway. The winery is a mile or two down on your left.