Berkmann Wine Cellars has added California producer Ridge Vineyards to its agency portfolio. Berkmann will take over the UK distribution from Fields, Morris & Verdin (FMV) on January 1, 2021.

Founded by four scientists from the Stanford Research Institute, Ridge’s first wine was made in 1962, at the dawn of the modern era in California winemaking. This debut Cabernet Sauvignon from the Monte Bello vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains was followed in 1964 by Ridge’s first Zinfandel. These two varieties, grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Sonoma County, remain the cornerstone of the winery’s range.

Winemaker Paul Draper joined in 1969, and during his 47-year tenure established Ridge as one of the world’s most revered wine producers, according to Berkmann. He has a “meticulous focus” on low-intervention winemaking, single-vineyard expression, and the conservation of ancient vines.

Alex Hunt MW, purchasing director at Berkmann, said: “With the fine wines of California being a key focus for Berkmann, my colleagues and I could not be more honoured and delighted to embark on this partnership with Ridge Vineyards – a producer that for many of us has underpinned our belief in California wine quality since the very start of our careers.

“Resolute in the face of changing fashions, paradoxically progressive in its traditionalism, both icon and iconoclast, and always a staunch supporter of export markets, it is no accident that Ridge has become one of the few truly timeless classics in wine. We applaud the work done by FMV over the last 24 years and cannot wait to bring these magnificent wines to a wider audience in the UK.”

David Amadia, president of Ridge Vineyards, said: “Berkmann, a family-owned and operated importer, with a focus on high quality, balanced, terroir-driven wines is a seamless fit for Ridge. We are impressed by the team’s excellence at Berkmann, all of whom embody knowledge, passion, and integrity.

“In Berkmann, we have found a true partner dedicated to collaboration and execution. The UK is the largest of our 40 international markets, and we are confident Berkmann will work to improve the quality and depth of our distribution and reputation. Eleven years after our founding, in 1973, we made our first international shipment, the 1971 Monte Bello, to the UK. Today, the UK remains our first and most critical international market.”

Ridge is the second US winery to announce a move to Berkmann Wine Cellars this month. Domaine Drouhin Oregon joins Berkmann from December, following Champagne Jacquesson and Argentina’s Pulenta Estate in their switch to the family-owned distributor.