Wine Country Here We Come!

divider500.gif (1221 bytes)

FACT Ridge Lytton Springs - Up Close
By Canadian Zinfan


Ridge Billboard

Clarence the gecko thought he had died and gone to heaven when he saw the billboard

One advantage to residing only minutes from Ridge's Lytton Springs property is that it's a great way to start ones daily wine tasting ritual. Who really needs their wheaties anyway?

The winery, former host to the unique Lytton Spring Winery label, is too far off the beaten track, and has little to lure the hoards of Napa-ites away from fighting the multitude of their peers day tripping through Highway 29's many wineries. Therefore the other folks we encountered here were serious consumers who, like us, found it worth the trip to taste at this Zin lovers Mecca.

The vineyards of Lytton are on a body of parched rolling hills just north of Healdsburg.

Ridge Lytton Springs Field of Dreams

They contain rows of twisted gnarly vines that bake in almost desert like conditions. The winery itself would not attract those that love the exorbitant and lavish mansions that can be found elsewhere. But once you see the line up of Mr. Ridge and close relatives inside the tasting room, you don't care about what it looks like. This was where Tony, the embodiment of Bacchus himself, fits into the picture. A most gracious host he was, working at his first position in the wine industry, he truly was a master of pour.

photo of tony


During our first tasting, it became obvious to Tony that we worshipped Mr. Ridge in all his glory. He said "I wish I had people like you here every day." Gang of Pour to the rescue! We quickly learned that Tony had an appetite and a sophisticated palate when it came to food. What a way for us to pay homage.

It was to be to his and our advantage to bring along anything left from the previous evenings' feast or that mornings' breakfast, for Tony's lunch.

Zinfan gets a massage

Zinfan gets a massage

Not to say of course he showed favouritism toward us but lets just say we sampled a few gems that most likely would have stayed uncorked. During the trip, Tony was not just an employee of the winery, instead he quickly became a friend.

What a pleasure it was to have him as a guest at one of our notorious barbecues. We extended the invitation to a guest of his choice and being the nice guy he is, he arrived with his mum, who incidentally is both a superb masseuse(major bonus) and a charming woman.

Just in case his boss is surfing these pages, I would like to point out we purchased our share of wines from Tony too. There is a reasonably priced and fairly expansive library selection to choose from. The '87 Lytton Springs Winery Reserve Zin for $35.00 was a steal. The '85 Lytton Springs Winery Zin for a close-out price of $25.00 exhibited heaps of intense concentrated fruit and I believe has a few years of life ahead of it.

Zinfan also recounted his trip to Rafanelli

And here's what Bastardo had to say about his first pilgrimage to Ridge Lytton Springs

The Lytton Springs facility is rather unassuming, especially when compared to others in the area, such as Dry Creek Vineyards, Silver Oak, and the ultra-opulent Ferrari-Carano.

Ridge Steal Tanks

Ridge Lytton Springs' steel tanks

At first glance, it looks as though it could just as well be a furniture outlet or a sporting goods store. Upon entering the dimly lit tasting room, you pass between several stainless steel fermentation tanks on the right, and a couple of dozen oak barrels on the left.

Tony, to whom Zinfan dutifully delivered his daily lunch, greeted us. Also present was Ridge staffer Kathy Martinich. They were presented with our personalized Gang of Pour business cards that The Director had passed out as a joke. (Little did we realize how useful these would prove to be, as we continued to tour and taste.)

Business Card

Bastardo's Business Card

We then proceeded to sample a number of bottlings from both Ridge and the now-defunct Lytton Springs Winery. Without exception, all were excellent, but the one that stands out in this taster's memory was the 1993 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel. The big, rich, luscious blue-zinberry and cherry fruit is showing very well now, and, indeed, I'd end up buying three for "the cellar."

It must have been obvious to Kathy that the winery was like a hallowed shrine to us, because, as we were leaving (with several purchases in hand), she remarked, "We'll have to open a Chardonnay for you to try tomorrow." No objections were heard from our ranks.

Continue on to: Power Tasting - Day One


The Canadian

Zinpersons visited


total of 91 wineries

during their three

and a half week


in California.



HOME Gang of Pour Home Page PAGE

Gang of Pour Unleashed Directory

Prologue - Blast me off to Sonoma

Redwood Tree House & Ridge Lytton Springs

Rafanelli Commentary

Power Tasting - Day One

The Music

Ridge ATP Party

Opus One - Day Two

Beringer - Day Two

Valley of the Moon - Day Three


Jason Brandt Lewis - Day Four

Newton Vineyards - Day Five

Bodega Bay - Day Six

Morning Reflections - Day Seven

More Wineries - Day Seven

SFJoe and Tasting Notes - Day Seven

Dinner Party and Tasting Notes - Day Seven

Departure and Epilogue - Day Eight