Pride Mountain Vineyards home
September 23, 2011
20 Wine Experts Taste 20 Years of Pride
Age Worthy? Big Reds Put to the Test
Pride Mountain Vineyards Looks Back at 20 Years

St. Helena, California – September 23, 2011 Do big California reds hold up over time? Tasters got a chance to evaluate this first hand when Pride Mountain Vineyards opened 25 red wines on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, at a retrospective tasting to commemorate 20 vintages.

Steve Pride invited 20 guests from the wine industry, including sommeliers, wine critics, wine writers, winemakers and other wine industry insiders to taste the secrets concealed beneath the corks of some of the first bottles ever produced at the winery.

“It’s a rare thing, even for top wine pros such as our 20 guests, to be able to compare side-by-side wines from so many vintages,” said Pride, co-owner of Pride Mountain Vineyards. ”The goal of the tasting was not only to see how our big, ripe mountain wines age over a 20-year time period, but to see how the subtle changes we have made over the last four years under winemaker Sally Johnson compare to earlier wines.”

Wine writer Jeff Cox commented, "There's a remarkable consistency in the Pride Cabernet Sauvignons, even after Sally took over in 2007, although she brings a touch of refinement and a little less reliance on sheer muscle. The older wines' youthfulness is astounding. . . It's almost as if the higher up Spring Mountain you go, the more the wines pull themselves up straighter and taller and make a robust statement of their character. . . The Pride wines are a wonderful achievement in winemaking, and they speak to the authenticity of the Napa Valley as one of the world's greatest wine growing regions."

The critiqued wines included a 1991 Merlot, a complete vertical (1994 – 2009) of Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a 1993 Reserve Claret, a 2001 Sangiovese, a 2002 Cabernet Franc and a range of current release wines among others. For two and a half hours flights were poured, evaluated with copious tasting notes in the hush of the caves, and ultimately discussed with candor by the crowd. Pride, who is a scientist by profession in addition to serving as CEO at the family’s winery, pushed the tasters for direct feedback. Following the final flight of wines, Chris Howell, longtime winemaker at neighboring Cain Vineyard and Winery addressed the group, “This entire series of wines is shockingly consistent, demonstrating the primacy of site. The terroir rules.”

Said Connoisseurs’ Guide publisher Charlie Olken in his blog entry following the tasting, “If this tasting is to be believed, and we think it should be, then many of the ripeCalifornia Cabs of the 1990s are going to live longer than many of the people who own them. They were delicious in their youth, and they are delicious as they grow into middle age, and they will be delicious when they are grandparents to a new set of young Cabernets years from now.”

Over the course of these 20 years, Pride Mountain Vineyards has received numerous accolades, including being named one of the world’s greatest wine estates by wine critic Robert Parker, Jr.; having its Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons appear on the Wine Spectator’s annual Top One Hundred Wines of the World list six times in the last ten years; as well as being served at the White House 25 times over the last four administrations. The winery makes 13 different wines out of eight varietals at the historic site where the first grapes were planted in 1869 and the ruins of the old Summit Winery from 1890 still stand.

The property is unusual not only because of its high 2100 foot elevation with contiguous vineyards draped across the very crest of the Mayacamas mountains, but because that crest is also the Napa/Sonoma county line which requires Pride Mountain Vineyards to produce its Napa and Sonoma grapes separately as two bonded wineries. The county line runs down the center of the crush pad and disappears into the winery’s caves. Originally purchased in 1989 by founders Jim and Carolyn Pride, the property has been owned for the last seven years by second-generation siblings Steve Pride and Suzanne Pride Bryan.

Wendy Brooks
[email protected]
4026 Spring Mountain Rd
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-6064 ext. 103