Thursday, October 29, 2009

Black Ridge Vineyards in Santa Cruz Mountains


Black Ridge Vineyards was founded by Jim and Cheryl Landes and Fred Faltersack who purchased the Black Ridge property in 1999 and were determined to product the best wine possible from their beautiful estate vineyards in the hills above the Lexington Reservoir near Los Gatos. While the property was used as a vineyard in the early 1900’s, Prohibition forced previous owners to replant the property in prune trees and later it was a Christmas tree farm. The vineyard’s location gives it protection from the coastal winds and lingering fog and the elevation provided a full day of sun.

On the 20+ acres of vineyard the yare growing Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Their grapes are not only used for the Black Ridge wines but also for other local winemakers including Fleming-Jenkins and more. Vineyard manager Ruben Balderas nurtures the grapes to deliver winemaker Bill Brosseau with the quality fruit he needs to produce wines that not only reflect the location, but deliver the high-quality, approachable wines desired by wine lovers.

Current releases include several red wines including a Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a Bordeaux blend.

The 2007 Pinot Noir has a beautiful red color and on the nose you detect the cherry and blueberry you expect from a fine Pinot with lingering vanilla and pepper aromas. You might also detect a hint of mint and crème brulee. As you taste this wine you will immediate fine an abundance of cherry, cola and cranberry flavors. This is a wine that is just what you need for a Thanksgiving dinner with rich flavors but not overbearing, matching well with turkey, cranberry and yams.

The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is a very approachable Cab delivering the dark fruits you expect from a fine Cabernet with soft tannins. This style goes will with a variety of foods, drinking well now and over the next few years.

Black Ridge 2006 Merlot was a particular joy. On the nose the fruit flavors of currant, dark cherry, blueberry and blackberry were intense with hints of vanilla and smoky bacon. The same fruity flavors come through on the palate along with notes of minty white chocolate.

The famous San Andreas Fault runs through one of the upper vineyards on the estate, inspiring the name of the Black Ridge Bordeaux blend, the 2006 San Andreas Red. This blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot is bursting with aromas of raspberry, cherry, pepper and spice. It has good acidity and rich tannins that indicate that, while drinkable now, will continue to deliver for many years to come.

Their new tasting room first opened earlier this year and is currently available for tasting the third weekend of every month form 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is a wonderful place to visit; sampling wines in their tasting room decorated with treasures from the owners worldwide visits. Out on the patio you can sip your wine while admiring the Santa Cruz Mountains and the nearby Lexington Reservoir.

For more info: Black Ridge Vineyards

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