Ritchie Creek Vineyard
4024 Spring Mountain Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574
t: (707) 963-4661
f. (707) 963-4936
by Peter Minor
Ritchie Creek Vineyard is located at the top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley appellation’s premium Cabernet Sauvignon growing district. We produce just 800 cases of handcrafted estate wines from our small mountain vineyard, which was planted in 1967.
At 2,000 feet above sea level, our vineyard’s thin rocky soil and cool northern exposure bear low yields of two to three tons of fruit per acre, as compared to vineyards in the Napa Valley floor, which produce four to six tons per acre. Our low yielding vines produce deeply concentrated wines with intense varietal character, which have proven their great aging potential.
We purchased the 40 acre property in 1966 at a time when the Napa Valley had fewer than 30 wineries. We cleared the land and planted the original four acre Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vineyard in 1967.
Most of our Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted during this time, using St. George rootstock budded to a shy bearing pre-certification clone of Cabernet Sauvignon and a small amount of Merlot for blending.
My wife, Maggie and I established Ritchie Creek winery in 1974. We built a small winery out of the hillside and named it after the creek, which starts on the property and flows to the Napa Valley floor.
Being both vineyard manager and winemaker gives me the freedom to practice the art of winemaking without compromise and ensure that each vintage consistently expresses the unique character of the vineyard site.
In 1980, we planted three acres of Chardonnay and, in 1981, one acre of Viognier. We were one of the first wineries in the United States to produce Viognier, and though it produced several great vintages, over time it proved to be a difficult varietal to grow on the site. It was replaced in the 90s with an Austrian red varietal called Blaufrankisch.
The Vineyards Today
Today, Ritchie Creek encompasses eight acres of vineyard. Production will be very low for the next couple of years as we replant vines that were planted on non-resistant rootstock.