A week with Ridge Vineyards
We were delighted to welcome the team from Ridge Vineyards to the UK this October. Senior Vice President of Global Sales, Michael Torino and International Sales Manager, Katie Blakely joined us for a jam-packed week of events and trade visits up and down the country. They began their week touring London’s vibrant on trade, after which they headed north to Manchester and Edinburgh before ending the week back down south, in Henley-on-Thames. We caught up with Katie about how it felt to be back in the heart of the UK restaurant scene and get her thoughts on the 2021 harvest from Ridge Vineyards.
“How does it feel to be back in the UK restaurant trade after such a hiatus?”
Absolutely incredible! The restaurant scene in the UK is so dynamic. I’m blown away on every visit. Whether in London, arguably one of the most competitive markets in the industry, or up north in Manchester where you are seeing rapid growth and inspiring creativity- it’s all very exciting and one of my favourite places to be.
“How would you compare the current UK hospitality scene to that back home in the US?”
They are very similar. On the positive side—it is rebounding much faster than I think anyone had anticipated even 6-7 months ago. A lot of restaurants are seeing numbers above and beyond those posted in 2019. People want to get out and go out. They have been cooped up for 18 months, and they want the professional dining experience back. Even better, they are buying up on bottles of wine. Bottles that used to be in the ‘special occasion’ or ‘holiday’ bracket are now being purchased at more regular intervals.
Unfortunately, low staffing has become a major concern and ultimately, the last piece holding our industry back from a full recovery. Many restaurants cannot afford to open for lunch or have opted to remain closed entirely Mon-Wed.
How was the 2021 harvest for Ridge Vineyards?
This question really needs to be answered in two parts:
Sonoma—2021 was a much better vintage for Zinfandel than 2020. Lytton Springs, Geyserville, and Pagani Ranch came through with above average yields, which is very encouraging. Unfortunately, California is in the midst of another historic drought which continues to be a cause of great concern. Some of our smaller ranches did not fair very well this year due to lack of rain.
Monte Bello—2021 harvest was wild at our flagship estate. Historically, harvest begins in the Santa Cruz Mountains around Sept 18, and then continues at a pretty even, methodical pace for 6-8 weeks. We begin at our lowest ranch, Jimsomare and work our way to the top ranch- Perrone. This year, we completed the ENTIRE harvest of the mountain by Sept 18 and had to harvest from top to bottom. Everything flipped on its head. One of the main drivers of this was the lack of temperature swing (diurnal swing) above the inversion layer. Typically as we get into summer, we will see a 30-40 degree swing between day and night. That did not happen this year. In fact, there were two months leading up to verasion that the temperature did not dip below 80 degrees.
“And finally a note on the current release, any standouts from the 2019s which landed in the UK earlier this month?”
2019 Geyserville and 2018 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon! These two wines are so gastronomic and undeniably delicious.
Please speak to your sales representative for more information about what wines are available from Ridge Vineyards’ current release.