Pride Mountain Vineyards
by the Pride Family
Pride Mountain Vineyards resides at the western frontier of the Spring Mountain District straddling the crest of the Mayacamas Mountains some 2000 feet above the town of St. Helena. Grapes were initially planted on the property in 1878 and the ruins of the old winery building that dates from 1890 are still present. Up until prohibition, the grass under the walnut trees in front of the old winery served as a Sunday gathering point where the mountain community would play pinochle and picnic.
Of the original 340-acre ranch thriving at the turn of the century, only 170 acres remained when Jim and Carolyn Pride bought the property in 1989. At that time, the ranch was home to an old drafty ranch house, a barn that needed fixing up, and 45 acres of dry-farmed vines just barely hanging on. After getting drip irrigation going on the vines, one of Jim’s first tasks was to restore the park-like setting in front of the old winery ruins. He and Carolyn then set out to create a world-class winery.
Twenty years later, the property has expanded to 235 acres, 84 of which are in vines, caves have been dug that house over 2000 barrels of wine, and a winery and tasting room greet visitors from around the world. The property and business are still owned and managed by the Pride family with son Steve Pride now running the operation and daughter Suzanne Pride Bryan actively involved as well. Carolyn gets by the winery each day to verify that all is going as it should.
Thirteen different wines are made each vintage from eight different grape varieties grown on the property: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Chardonnay and Viognier. Winemaker Sally Johnson joined the team in the spring of 2007 and has overseen significant improvements to several aspects of the winemaking program. Associate winemaker Romel Rivera, who started with Pride in 1997, works closely with Sally and Steve to give the wines the attention and love they deserve. Long-time viticultural consultant Paul Skinner has worked with the Pride family since 1990 to guide each of the 40 growing blocks toward its full potential.
The property resides above the fog line and has gentle vineyard exposures that largely face south. A wide range of soil types result in a wide range of wine texture and flavor. Generally, the red wines have a dark mountain expression that features tar, licorice, resiny underbrush and cedar in addition to intensely ripe dark berries and cherries.
Although the winemaking and viticulture practices are modern, the Pride family has sought to retain the historical charm of the property and to create an environment where their guests always feel welcome and appreciated.