Pine Ridge Vineyards
As we stated in our last blog we are devoting an entire blog to Pine Ridge Vineyards. Our trip to Napa Valley was filled with amazing winery visits, but Pine Ridge was my favorite. When planning our trip Mark asked if we had any particular wineries we wanted to visit and I immediately said Pine Ridge. Maryann introduced me to their Chenin Blanc + Viognier blend about a year ago. Now anytime I find another similar blend, I measure it against Pine Ridge. Little did I know Pine Ridge is more well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pine Ridge Vineyards owner, Gary Andrus, founded his vineyard in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. Pine Ridge is known for producing award winning Cabernet Sauvignon that is commanding and refined. He now owns premier estate vineyards in 5 of Napa Valley’s federally recognized wine growing regions; Stags Leap District, Howell Mountain, Oakville, Rutherford and Carneros. The Pine Ridge team is committed to using sustainable practice to be good stewards of the land.
Founded in 1978 Pine Ridge Vineyards comprises 160 acres of estate vineyards. Almost one-third of which are located in the Stags Leap District. The director of viticulture is tasked with understanding the particular soil characteristics of each vineyard. The Pine Ridge winemakers painstakingly work to craft wines that reflect the terroir of each vineyard and incorporate each vintage’s demands. Their winemaking process is a complex collaboration between the viticulture director and the wine makers. Extensive barrel tasting and blending are used to produce wine that reflects the distinctive terroir. The team must be flexible in what needs to be done to produce the award winning wine. There is no one recipe that works for every vintage.
Pine Ridge has one of the most unique wineries I visited. It literally is built into the ground. When entering the winery we were greeted by Enrique and a glass of their Chenin + Viognier sparking. It was delightful. We started our tour in the lobby where Enrique explained the history of the vineyard. We moved down into a tunnel that lead into the winery. He explained to us why they use cement tanks in addition to stainless steel. It was the first time I have seen a cement tank. At this time of year there is a lot of cleaning and maintenance happening in preparation for future bottling. He led us into the caves where the magic happens. The underground caves are lined with barrels of wine. Some empty barrels were in various stages of cleaning. Along the way we tasted straight from the barrels. It was fun to taste wines that were close to being bottled and wines that needed more time in the oak barrels. PIne Ridge uses both American and French. We discussed the differences in their barrels, both size and material.
After our tour of the facility we completed our tasting in an intimate seating area 40 feet underground. It was a great event space that is used for celebrations and corporate events. There was a magnificent glass sculpture designed by Dale Chihuly. He also designed the Bellagio Hotel lobby ceiling in Las Vegas. Our tasting started with the Sparkling Chenin Blanc + Viognier at the beginning of our tour. Not a big sparkling fan, but I do love this blend. Next was one of my favorite wines, the Chenin Blanc + Viognier blend. It starts with pear on the nose and a crisp finish that doesn’t linger. The next wine we tasted was one of 3 Cabernet Sauvignon blends. First the 2020 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, it included 2% Malbec. It had a light pepper on the palate. It was aged for 26 months in American Oak. Next was the 2019 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon with 3% Merlot. It had blackfruit on the nose. This wine is perfect to sip alone and also to pair with food. The final blend,a 2016 Fortis, included 7% Malbec and 4% Merlot. It had been aerating 90 minutes to release its aroma. The resulting tannins were soft and smooth. This is their flagship wine and only available to wine club members. We also got a special tasting of their 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine spent 18 months in toasted French Oak. The grapes came from older vines and had blackberry and chocolate on the nose. Although the Chenin Blanc + Viognier is my favorite and the only Pine Ridge wine I have tried until today, they are most known for their Cabernet Sauvignon.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and we weren’t able to walk around the Stags Leap property.