WE LIVE in a youth-obsessed culture. If it’s not young, fresh and beautiful, we don’t want it. But there’s an exception to this rule: wine.
When it comes to wine, age is a virtue. Old vines and old wines are revered. So, too, are old winemakers. Winemaking isn’t immune to fads and new technology, but the ancient practice of turning grape juice into wine is wonderfully old world and low-tech. But just like the rest of the world, winemaking undergoes generational shifts. In spite of its culture of age and wisdom, it needs new blood.
In Metro‘s first wine issue, we celebrate not only Silicon Valley’s wine country—a rambling appellation that runs from Woodside to Watsonville and from Santa Cruz to Saratoga—but a new class of young winemakers who are writing the next chapter of a local winemaking story that began 130 years ago.
Saratoga’s Martin Ray, a protege of Paul Masson, proved the power and grace of Santa Cruz Mountains wines nearly 70 years ago with his pinot noir and chardonnay grown in vineyards high above what would become Silicon Valley. Mount Eden Vineyards winemaker Jeffrey Patterson carries on Ray’s tradition on the same mountaintop site where Ray once lived and made wine. Just to the north, Cupertino’s Ridge Vineyards showed the world that California wines were every bit as good as those of France in the now infamous Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976.
Do any of the five winemakers, all of them in their mid-30s or younger, have what it takes to make a wine for the ages and prove once again that California’s best wines don’t all come from Napa and Sonoma? Time will tell.