Otsuka People Talk

July 2014

Paul Draper
Winemaker, Ridge Vineyards, CEO
Part 1

Wine is one of the things that connects people to something real. And in this world of glass, concrete, air-conditioning, it connects you to the Earth.

Comments from Winemakers'Winemaker Award 2013 recipient, from the Institute of Masters of Wine

The History of Ridge Vineyards

Ridge Vineyards is a leading prestigious California winery that Otsuka Pharmaceutical acquired in 1986. Ridge Vineyards is famous not only in the United States but also in Europe as a consistent producer of award-winning, world-class wines.

Ridge Vineyards' approach to wine production emphasized traditional methods and uses processes that are as natural as possible in both grape cultivation and wine fermentation.

Mr. Paul Draper, the CEO of Ridge Vineyards and an unparalleled winemaker who has been with Ridge for more than 40 years, continues to craft superior wines with exceptional balance and longevity.

Since its founding, Ridge has remained steadfast in its commitment to bringing forth the individual character and distinctiveness of each individual vineyard; most of Ridge's estate wines are made from grapes grown at single sites, and are named after these individual vineyards.

A bottle of Monte Bello 1971, the top-place finisher at the Judgment of Paris

Ridge Vineyards uses Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals, as well as Zinfandels, which are representative American varietals, and Chardonnay, considered the queen of whites. Ridge has two locations, one in the Santa Cruz Mountains close to California's Silicon Valley, and the other north of San Francisco in Sonoma County, home of the Zinfandel varietals.

Why Ridge?

One of the reasons Mr. Draper joined Ridge was because all the techniques that he had learned were techniques that had been used in California in the 19th century, and were basically identical to the techniques that were being used in Bordeaux.

He said the Californians had learned many techniques from the Europeans and that he had the opportunity to taste both these traditional Californian wines from the late 30s as well as some of the great European wines.

Mr. Draper had not seen any California wines as good as those earlier 1930s wines from California until he tasted the '62 and the '64 made by the partners. He explained that Ridge had made it in the simplest, most traditional way with no filtration, no processing, no additives and minimal SO2 added.

Why wine?

The Monte Bello Vineyard. Located at an altitude of 400 to 800 meters, the climate at Monte Bello is extremely cool. When the mist shrouding the base clears, one can look out over the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, and Silicon Valley.

He learned about wine and the wine culture while reading European novels such as Hemingway, the American author, and all of them had talked about wine as being a part of everyday life. He said loved the idea of the community with family and friends and the fact that wine takes a straight simple meal and makes it into a ritual. That idea really intrigued him and was what made him desire to be involved in winemaking.

Won Winemakers' Winemaker Award 2013

After more than four decades in winemaking, Paul Draper was awarded the honor: the "Winemakers' Winemaker Award 2013," from the Institute of Masters of Wine. This award is given each year to one person from the profession who is the most respected by the Institute of Masters of Wine, a group that includes no more than around 300 persons worldwide, and particularly by the members of the judging panel, all of whom are professional winemakers. It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the members of the committee, who are intimately familiar with the hands-on details of winemaking throughout the world.