Ravenswood Winery




Sonoma Mountain

In college, Lorna went out with a lamé-wearing singer who called himself Prince La La. Eventually he dropped out of school to perform with the Sex Change Band, leaving Lorna in some confusion. Luckily, La La’s roommate Cris was a talented therapist. Not long after he and Lorna graduated, they got married, moved to San Francisco and had a couple of kids. 

In the Haight-Ashbury, where they first lived, it was the Summer of Love. But all Cris and Lorna knew was that they hated the fog that blew in from the Pacific Ocean every day. Exploring north of the Golden Gate for a sunnier spot, they found a place on the north side of Sonoma Mountain and began spending weekends there in a trailer, building a cabin and collecting blackberries. Before long, their two toddlers started calling it “the pick berry place.” 

Since Cris was a home winemaker, pretty soon they started thinking about planting grapes. People suggested French Colombard or Sauvignon Blanc for high yields, but Cris and Lorna suspected that, on a north-facing mountainside, high yields were as likely as a long-term relationship with a lamé-wearing singer named La La. Instead they planted Chardonnay and, because Cris had a weakness for Bordeaux, he planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. When the vines started producing, Cris and Lorna called a local vintner who wanted to make a “Meritage” wine (a California "Bordeaux") from a single vineyard of Bordeaux-style grapes. 

Joel Peterson already knew that good Cabernet came from the north side of Sonoma Mountain, and also saw that Cris had a trellising system that spread out the crop and kept clusters small. The grapes, grown in shallow rugged soil, had enormous intensity, complexity and concentration. 

Ravenswood’s first “Pickberry” wine was called “one of the most important wines of the vintage” by Wilfred Wong and received a 90+ rating from Robert M. Parker, Jr. From the first, it has been Ravenswood’s most prestigious bottling, which says something.

Location: Sonoma Mountain
Year(s) Planted: First blocks planted in 1982
Acreage: About 30 Acres
Soil Type: Gravelly loam
Climate: Cool Sonoma Mountain weather
Elevation: About 700 Feet
Exposure: Northeastern