Pride Mountain Vineyards

Pride Mountain Vineyards

About

People immediately understand why the winery estate was previously named "Summit Ranch." The twisting twenty-minute drive west from St. Helena, or east from Santa Rosa, rewards visitors with a stunning view of rugged Mount St. Helena to the northeast and verdant vineyards rising skyward in all directions. Pride Mountain Vineyards is a 235-acre estate with a wooden-beamed, modest-sized winery that blends smoothly into its mountainous surroundings and California heritage. The charming and unpretentious tasting room offers guests the opportunity to sample the latest vintages while chatting with the gracious and knowledgeable staff. County regulations require that visitors hold a prior appointment. Those joining the Pride Mountain crew for a morning tour can also enjoy the property's other unique features. Beside the winery, the crush pad is bisected by a brick inlay that defines the Napa/Sonoma County line. Walking into the caves, the temperature drops to the high 50s, humidity rises, and the visitor is greeted with the heady aromas of wine and oak. Over 23,000 square feet of subterranean storage winds naturally under the hillside, opening out onto a terrace overlooking the vineyards and the scenic northern Napa Valley. Back into the bright sun, then down a single lane road, the ruin of the original Summit Ranch winery, built in 1890, looms through the fir and oak trees. The four walls are now silent, but provide a peaceful spot for a post-tasting picnic. The Pride family has reason to be pleased with the combination of restoration and innovation, of form and function, and hopes each visitor leaves with a warmer and better understanding of winemaking

Location Description

Located in Saint Helena, California.

Features

  • Uses modern technology and artisanal sensibilities to produce the finest possible wines from estate grown fruit.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Average Bottle Price

$ 60

Winemaker

Winemaker Sally Johnson leads this tight knit team, working closely with long-time associate winemaker Romel Rivera and Steve Pride. Pure of focus, the team is in constant conversation - many times with the inclusion of viticulturist, Paul Skinner - sharing knowledge and new ideas, all with the goal of coaxing the finest wines possible out of Pride's mountaintop fruit.

History

With no telephone until the 1920’s, no electricity until the 1940’s, and no paved road into St. Helena until the 1950’s, the history of winemaking on top of Spring Mountain has been one of hard work and dedication.

Summit Ranch, as it has long been known to the locals, was deeded by the U.S. government to its first owners in 1872.Thirty-five title changes later, the property is now home to Pride Mountain Vineyards. Only deer, fox, coyotes, rattlesnakes, bears, and mountain lions have been continual residents.

Summit Ranch has a history rich in the texture of 19th Century winemaking. The first records of vineyard plantings date back to 1869. Although these records do not reveal which varietals were cultivated, a square sixty-four foot by sixty-four foot, three-story stone winery suggests plantings of considerable acreage. Built in 1890, the gravity-fed structure served the entire mountain. Sometime during prohibition (1920 to 1933), the old winery was destroyed by fire. Local lore has it that the fire was more than just a little suspicious. All that is left today are the original stone walls.

Further research turned up literature and photographs from the era depicting the ranch as the site of many neighborhood gatherings. Each Sunday, families would come to picnic, tell stories, and play cards in the large shaded area adjacent to the winery. Finding that this beautiful spot had become the ranch dump when they purchased the property, the Pride family restored "The Grove" and the park-like area is now often used for picnics, special winery functions and mountain gatherings.

Riding the crest of the Mayacamas Mountain Range at an elevation of 2,100 feet, the 235 acre property which is now home to Pride Mountain Vineyards is bisected by the Napa/Sonoma county line. While in 1890 one winery served the entire mountain community, in 1990 government regulations required that Pride Mountain Vineyards have two separate facilities, one in Napa County and one in Sonoma County, with the division down the center of the crush pad. Wines produced here now are designated Napa Valley, Sonoma County or with percentages of both, supporting the tag line, "One Ranch ~ Two Counties."

Even in the early years, the county line was seen as a way to increase county revenue. A little one room school house immediately adjacent to the ranch, known as the “Diamond Mountain School”, was built on skids so that it could be moved from one county to the other depending on which county had more tax paying families with children in school!

New plantings and redevelopment did not take place until the 1950s, and the property has been in continual grape production ever since that time. While the 1991 through 1996 Pride Mountain Vineyards wines were crafted at an offsite winery in the Napa Valley, estate production returned in 1997 when the Pride family constructed a modern winery on site.

The Team

Carolyn Pride
Founder

In 1989 Jim and Carolyn Pride had sold rice land in the Sacramento Valley and were looking for a place to retire. Jim’s business was located in Marin County, California and so, being long-time wine aficionados, they thought that a place in either Napa or Sonoma County would be ideal. Jim could continue running Pride Institute (his dental practice management company) and they could raise grapes which would be sold to others. Retirement looked very appealing!

After months of searching, the old Summit Ranch became available and seemed ideal as its location embraced BOTH Napa and Sonoma counties. The commute was very doable, and neither Carolyn nor Jim was daunted by the prospect of farming as both were from longtime farming families in the Sacramento Valley.

Events unfolded very rapidly after the first year on the property. The grapes the land produced were exceptional. “Why are we selling them to others?” Jim and Carolyn asked themselves. Running the ranch was proving not to be a job for commuters, so they decided to have Carolyn stay on the ranch and shepherd the development of this business that there was seemingly no holding back. Jim would work on Pride Institute business during the week, including traveling extensively to lecture on the business of dentistry. The weekends would find him happily reunited with Carolyn in the vineyard where he spent hard-working and hard-thinking weekends driving the tractor, planning and planting vineyards and visualizing a winery on site. The decade of the ‘90s was a whirlwind and truly a labor of love.

In wonderful family fashion the Prides’ daughter Suzanne and son Steve both joined the business in 2003, after Jim became ill. Suzanne’s husband Stuart Bryan was already on board, having managed national sales since the first vintage in 1991. Sadly, cancer claimed Jim in 2004. True to form, Carolyn persevered with her business responsibilities for the next several years, aided by her long-time staff and her children.

Steve Pride
CEO & Co-Owner

Steve has been responsible for guiding Pride Mountain Vineyards (PMV) since 2004. He involves himself in all aspects of the business from viticulture to winemaking, from management to marketing. Steve is proud of contributing to and promoting the general spirit that permeates Pride Mountain Vineyards, in which the entire staff places a priority on being concerned for the well-being and happiness of everybody they come in contact with: guests, long-term customers, new customers, vendors, other professional relations, colleagues and to the greater community in which they live. Steve likes to envision PMV, sitting high atop the Mayacamas Mountains, as a giant antenna sending out waves of good will. The ability to connect with people is made easier when the quality of wine is outstanding and Steve’s primary focus in his professional life is how to make the wines of Pride Mountain Vineyards as great as they can possibly be.

In the early 1990s, before the winery was in existence, Steve began his career as an academic scientist. After completing a BA at the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD at Texas A&M University, both in geophysics, and after two years as a post-doc at MIT, he married his French wife Laurence, and became a professor at the University of Paris and later at the University of Rennes in France. In 2000, he took a sabbatical at Stanford University as a visiting professor, which enabled him to spend time with his Dad who was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2001. In 2003, Steve and Laurence, and their boys Tommy and Sammy, moved from France to the Bay Area to get more involved with the winery. Steve also obtained a staff-scientist position at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab at that time along with an adjunct-professor position at UC Berkeley, and now splits his time between Berkeley and the winery.

"Being a scientist is actually good training for owning and managing a vineyard,” he says. “As a scientist, you are required to solve difficult problems, experiment and hypothesize, and think outside the box; all qualities that come in handy here at the winery. We are taking nothing for granted at Pride Mountain Vineyards, and are constantly exploring ways to push the wine-quality envelope to the maximum. The entire enterprise is a whole lot of fun."

Suzanne Pride Bryan
Co-Owner

Suzanne Pride Bryan remembers trips to the wine country as a child in the 1960s with her brother Steve and their parents, Jim and Carolyn Pride. "We would climb into the back of Dad's two-seat sports car and spend weekends driving from the Sacramento Valley to the Napa Valley. Fun for our wine-collecting parents perhaps, but not so much fun for a couple of little kids," she recalls.

Suzanne graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and worked in management in San Francisco's Financial District for 10 years before entering the other Pride family business, Pride Institute (the renowned dental practice management organization, sold to its employees in 2005 after Jim’s passing). "Dad always wanted me to work for the family firm, but insisted I work at another company first," she says. "It was so great to work with Dad; he was a phenomenal business person. To be able to help with Pride Institute while Mom and Dad started Pride Mountain Vineyards meant a lot to me. Those were years of hard work and many sacrifices, but doing it for our family made it worthwhile.” Suzanne joined her parents full-time at the winery in 2003.

Suzanne is married to Stuart Bryan, a 30-year veteran in wine sales. Stuart was instrumental in getting Pride Mountain wines distributed on a national basis from the very first vintage in 1991, and continues to serve as Director of National Sales today. Together, Suzanne and Stuart, who live in nearby Sonoma County, have two grown daughters both residing in Brooklyn, New York: Elizabeth who is an interior architect and Kathryn who is a photojournalist.

Since 2004, Suzanne and her brother Steve have co-owned Pride Mountain Vineyards once their mother, Carolyn Pride retired. "It’s fantastic to be second-generation owners and carry-forward our parents' vision. We are so blessed with the amazing fruit that grows on our mountain top and the talented team of people who make our winery and our wines so special," says Suzanne.

Jim Pride
Founder

Jim Pride would say, "Participate in quality." Jim was famous for leaving no stone unturned and no detail to chance.

Pride was a hands-on farmer. With a sharp eye for quality, Pride walked these verdant mountaintop vineyards, always testing and modifying farming practices for the better of the crop.

Jim passed away in August of 2004 after a long battle with cancer, yet his commitment to quality and his vision for Pride Mountain Vineyards is carried forward by Carolyn Pride and their two grown children Suzanne Pride Bryan and Steven Pride. They are joined by winemaker Sally Johnson, and the entire Pride Mountain Vineyards team, who are proud of their accomplishments and take great care to preserve Jim's legacy.

Agriculture is in the Pride family's blood. The Pride's purchase of historic Summit Ranch in 1989 and its subsequent development was the culmination of a lifetime of farming for Jim and Carolyn.

Native Californians born into farming families, the Prides have farmed rice, walnuts, almonds, sugar beets, tomatoes, Black Angus cattle, and now wine. Pride started out as a dentist, and later founded Pride Institute, the nation's premier dental practice management organization. Renowned as a public speaker and educator, Jim was never happier than when he was on his tractor, spending much of his working career with his hands in the dirt. Farming in the Sacramento Valley and living in the San Francisco Bay Area eventually lost its appeal, however. Wanting to live closer to the land, the Prides purchased this historic winery property with a few acres of vineyards, moving to the top of Spring Mountain in 1990.

"We traded dark, rich soil at $5,000 per acre in the Sacramento Valley for dusty, rocky soil at $25,000 per acre," Jim would joke. Buying the parcel on the "sleepy little mountain top" was supposed to usher in a quieter, pre-retirement lifestyle. But that quickly changed when the Prides realized that the fruit from their replanted vineyards, sold to local winemakers, was producing extraordinary wine.

While Jim evolved from grape grower to wine grower, Carolyn kept the operation humming during Jim's multitude of business trips for the Pride Institute. Carolyn has been the steady keel that has allowed Pride Mountain Vineyards to grow from a humble beginning of three employees working out of Carolyn and Jim's house, to the 45 employee, 20,000 case per year estate that Pride Mountain Vineyards is today.

Stuart Bryan
Director of National Sales

Stuart Bryan is the Director of National Sales for Pride Mountain Vineyards. Since the winery’s inception he has been responsible for national distribution and winery direct wholesale in California.

Stuart is married to Suzanne Pride Bryan. “When Jim and Carolyn purchased the property and decided to make their first vintage, I was delighted to have my distributor network in place to get the Pride Mountain wines out into the national market,” he says. Stuart first started in national sales as a sales manager for Chalone Vineyards and was the first national sales manager for Shafer Vineyards in the 1980s. He founded and managed a national wine sales company for over 17 years that was well established by the time the Pride Mountain wines were first produced in 1991. He also represented a number of wineries throughout California and Oregon along with his own wine production company which produced over 14,000 cases annually. In 2005 he sold his company to focus on exclusively on Pride Mountain Vineyards.

Stuart was born and raised in Manistee, Michigan and is a graduate of Kalamazoo College. He wrote his dissertation at USC’s Marine Biological Laboratory on Catalina Island in California before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1980s, beginning his wine sales career, meeting Suzanne and settling down to raise their family.

Stuart and Suzanne travel extensively representing Pride Mountain Vineyards across the U.S. They live in Sonoma County and have two grown daughters who now live and work in New York City.

Romel Rivera
Associate Winemaker

Born on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, Romel walked away from his degree in nautical studies from the Philippine Maritime Institute after learning he could only expect to earn $120.00 per month as an apprentice mate on his uncle’s cargo ship. Twenty-two years old and disillusioned, he came to California in 1980 and took his first job hoeing vineyards for his father, then the vineyard manager for Solari Vineyard Management in Calistoga. “Man, it was hard,” he says, “I had the most terrible blisters.” Six miserable months later, he was offered a job in the cellar at Hans Kornell Cellars and enjoyed the next eleven years working his way through every aspect of still wine and champagne production.

It was there at Kornell that Romel met Bob Foley, Pride's winemker at the time, in 1991. (Ruben Ayala, now Romel’s trusty sidekick here at Pride, was also there.) For seven years, Romel worked side by side with Bob on Pride’s wines, as well as assisting other winemakers with additional custom crush projects. In 1998, when Pride was ready to move into its own winery, Romel made the move up Spring Mountain, too. An amazingly hard working and conscientious man with a very refined palate, he has been our Associate Winemaker ever since.

Romel lives in Windsor with his wife, Maria. They have two sons, Richie and Nikki. In the few spare hours that he is not working either on Pride wines, or on his own wine, Corte Riva, he enjoys church activities and spending time in the kitchen, reproducing some of his favorite Filipino dishes.

Ruben Ayala
Cellar Operations

Lawrence Cortez
Cellar Operations

Philip Aquino
Cellar Operations

Practices & Techniques

Our aim is to make big red wines on the black-fruit side of the ripeness spectrum that nonetheless maintain balance, nuance, and complexity. We want our wines to be approachable in their youth, yet to age beneficially for ten to fifteen years. How best to achieve these goals is something we continue to experiment with in small lot trials.

There is sometimes an unfortunate division between wine enthusiasts seeking the elegant nuances of aged French wines, and those seeking the intense fruit concentration of younger California wines. Our attitude is that each wine growing region has its own unique expression that can be embraced and enjoyed for what it is. In California, we have the ability to achieve a level of ripeness that is simply not possible in France. How to make a wine that celebrates this unique gift of ripeness without sacrificing structure, complexity and balance, is an artistic challenge that continues to be our raison d’etre here at Pride Mountain Vineyards.

As distinct from many wineries, we vinify and age all vineyard lots separately. Many of our individual vineyard blocks are picked in stages throughout harvest in order for each lot to be at optimal ripeness. Our forty vineyard blocks thus translate into more than fifty lots of wine separately aging in the cave. This labor-intensive strategy allows us to blend only complementary lots, possibly sell off de-classified lots if deemed necessary, and make viticultural adjustments to specific vineyard blocks.

Our red wines always go into neutral oak barrels for the first months following alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. This allows the character of each lot to express itself without the influence of oak. The percentage of new French oak is then individually chosen for each lot based on flavor considerations, and is reconsidered at each racking. Our red wines benefit from multiple rackings each year. We do not believe in sterile filtration of our red wines as a means to preventing spoilage.

Blending begins two months prior to each bottling. We believe in some cross-varietal blending for most of our nine red wines which, given the number of lots in the cave, results in an enormous number of blend possibilities to consider. Since the blending of one red wine has implications for most of the others, blending involves a huge amount of time and concentration.

At each step of the winemaking process, from when to harvest, to how hard to press out each lot, to how the blends are put together, we let our senses be our guide. We rethink the strategy every vintage, shun recipes, and refrain from historical bias.This not only fills each wine with unique character, but fills our own lives with renewed vigor and enthusiasm each vintage.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Our eighty-three vineyard acres drape across the gentle rolling crest of the Mayacamas Mountains some 2000 feet above the floor of the Napa Valley. Being on the mountaintop provides many of the vines with desirable southern exposures, which is unique for a Spring Mountain property.The elevation also puts us above the morning fog that often blankets the Sonoma and Napa Valleys, with the result that the vines are bathed in sunshine from dawn to dusk.

During the growing season, the average temperature at Pride Mountain Vineyards is several degrees cooler than in the Napa Valley, which is beneficial to protecting the natural acidity of the grapes. The daily temperature fluctuations are also much smaller, with morning temperatures being considerably warmer and afternoon temperatures considerably cooler than in the Napa Valley. This results in gradual, steady ripening and long hang times.

Our mountaintop soils derive from volcanic sources and uplifted seabed sediments. The red-hued loams contain a large percentage of cobbles and gravel that provide exceptionally good drainage. As can be seen on our soils map, the vineyards are planted across six major soil formations. The dominant soil type is the Goulding Cobbly Loam Association, which can be found at the highest elevations of both the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains.

Even within the Goulding, there are large variations in clay content and soil depth that require us to make careful varietal and rootstock selections for each vineyard block. At our highest elevations, the leaner faster-draining soils are well adapted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. At lower elevations, the soils are thicker and have a greater amount of clay and are well adapted to Merlot. The small hill in front of the winery is an unusual example of the Spreckels Formation, which has a large percentage of white quartz gravel that can be seen on the surface and that provides great drainage. We have planted Syrah here in order to keep its characteristic vigor in check.

In order for the grapes to achieve a healthful ripeness, it is essential that proper balance be achieved each growing season between the amount of fruit on the vines and the canopy vigor. Factors strongly influencing this fruit-to-canopy balance include the choice of rootstock for each patch of soil, the choice of cover crop, the winter pruning strategies, and the watering strategies. We review and possibly modify our strategies for each of our forty vineyard blocks each and every vintage.

With the growing and ripening season often stretching from April to November, the vine canopy must remain healthy for a lengthy six months, which means disease must be carefully controlled. To control pest insects, we promote the presence of natural predator insects by choosing mildew suppressants in May and June that do not kill off the natural predators, and by maintaining a healthy cover crop. Although not 'organic', our viticultural practices are 'sustainable'. Our year-round vineyard crew of fifteen skilled and well-compensated workers allows us to truly manage our vineyards “vine by vine”.

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Hours

By appointment.

Address

4026 Spring Mountain Rd
St Helena, California 94574
United States

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