Otsuka People Talk

October 2014

Paul Draper
Winemaker, Ridge Vineyards, CEO
Part 2

The business was built on the original owners' belief and mine, that by pursuing the highest quality you could be successful, that you didn't have to compromise.

Comments from The James Beard Award for winemaking 2007 recipient, from the James Beard Foundation

Market Expansion and a Growing Reputation

Monte Bello wines lined up at the retrospective tasting commemorating the 50th
anniversary of the founding of Ridge Vineyards in 2012

When Paul Draper joined the company, Ridge Vineyards was producing about 40,000 bottles of wine a year. Now, more than 40 years later, Ridge Vineyards produces about 20 times that amount. Even so, Ridge is still considered a small- to medium-size winery. From the standpoint of maintaining quality, there are more minuses than pluses to becoming too big, and Ridge is therefore not planning on getting any bigger than it is now.

On the other hand, the number of countries to which Ridge Vineyards exports wine continues to grow. Ridge exports wine to around 50 countries, and exports account for approximately 20% of production. This is an unusually high proportion for a top-class California winery. Paul Draper believes that in order to cultivate an international reputation, Ridge wines have to be marketed around the world, and this belief has driven Ridge to actively pursue opportunities abroad since the 1970s. These efforts are bearing fruit.

Monte Bello Winery in California

The countries to which Ridge Vineyards exports the most wine are England, Canada, and Japan, each of which accounts for a roughly equal proportion of sales. Ridge also exports wine to the European wine-producing countries of France, Germany, Spain, Austria, and Greece, and has regular distributors in the Benelux and northern European countries, including Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

Outside of Europe, Ridge Vineyards has been rapidly expanding in Asia, and now exports wine to countries and regions such as: Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Of course, Ridge also sells to other large countries around the world, including Russia, India, Australia, and Brazil.