Ridge’s East Bench vineyard, named for it’s location on the benchland that runs the far Eastern edge of Dry Creek Valley north of Healdsburg, is an ideal place to grow Zinfandel. Although the site is fairly new to the winemakers at Ridge, this vineyard has a long viticultural history. The original vines were abandoned in the early 1900’s, and over the last 30 years, more and more of these vineyard blocks have been replanted. The East Bench Zinfandel, a single-varietal single-vineyard wine, was first produced in 2006. The 2017 East Bench is produced from vines planted in 2000 and 2001.
East Bench was re-planted with specially-selected vine cuttings. These cuttings, from four pre-Prohibition era vineyards, were chosen for their quality and pedigree. Like the Zinfandel vines in the Geyserville and Lytton Springs vineyards, the vines at East Bench are head trained (no trellis) and spur-pruned. More than 40 years of experience has taught that growing Zinfandel this way creates consistently high-quality wines with unparalleled complexity and depth of flavour.
The soil in this benchland vineyard was formed approximately 80 million years ago. A blend of clay loam with ancient river rock, it is iron-rich and reddish in colour. Deep and well-weathered, it is ideal for growing wine grapes, especially Zinfandel. The soils are identical across the bench, as are the climatic conditions, giving the vines the chance to demonstrate their distinctive character as they mature fully.
To convey the uniqueness of the site itself, each parcel ferments separately using only native yeasts. After the wines undergo a natural malolactic fermentation, only the most intense, distinctive lots are included in the finished wine. By taking a hands-off approach to winemaking, the vineyard expresses its true character in the glass.
A true Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, East Bench shows the characteristic cherry fruit and dusty spice that are the hallmarks of the appellation. Deep ruby in colour with mixed red fruit on the nose, the palate is beautifully layered with subtle vanilla and oak spice, black cherry, and raspberry. Fine-grained tannins and bright tart-cherry acidity play long through the finish. You’ll be in good company when you pour East Bench Zinfandel: the 2014 was served at President Obama’s final Presidential dinner on October 18, 2016.
“The 2017 Zinfandel East Bench comes from the Dry Creek Valley and has a classic bouquet of spice blue fruits, sweet kirsch, cedar, and tobacco leaf. It’s a juicy, forward, delicious effort that has notable purity, as well as balance. Drink it anytime over the coming 15 years or more.”
91 points, JebDunnuck.com, June 2019
“This 20 acre parcel was planted to Zinfandel in 1999. The 2017 production was 5,300 cases. Winemaker John Olney had this to say about the wine: “In 2017 the vines set a short crop with smaller clusters than usual, resulting in one of the most concentrated wines we have made from East Bench.” And, I would add that I think that this is the best East Bench Zinfandel that I can remember tasting. It is dark in colour with a deep berry perfume showing a briary tinge with very faint hints of chocolate and spice. On the palate the wine is brimming with fruit showing richness, depth, and balance. Make no mistake this is a great red wine and a great Zinfandel that can be enjoyed now or for many years into the future. With summer just around the corner, this is just the ticket for a red wine to enjoy with your summer barbecue. And, it is a great value”
Outstanding plus, Underground Wine Newsletter, May 2019