Paul Draper, the chief winemaker for Ridge Vineyards in California since 1969, was awarded the Institute of Masters of Wine's prestigious Winemakers’ Winemaker Award at a ceremony held at ProWein in Düsseldorf on Monday evening.
‘I’m blown away’: Draper
This is only the third year that the award, which recognises outstanding achievements in the field of winemaking, has being granted.
Paul Draper is being honoured as ‘a pioneer in the popularising of single-estate winemaking in California,’ and for ‘growing recognition of Zinfandel as an important regional grape variety.’
‘I’m blown away,’ Draper told Decanter.com. ‘Because it is one of the most difficult groups to become a part of, for what it requires in terms of knowledge of wine in general…and because of the respect I have for the judges, who are other Masters of Wine winemakers. I’m really honoured.’
He added, ‘I’m always surprised and pleased when people in the industry mention the things we do… that they have had some effect. I’m happy to see more people taking the approach we do.’
This approach, Draper said, places the vineyard ahead of the winemaker: ‘If you are fortunate enough to have a good vineyard that produces good distinctive fruit consistently, that to me, is the most interesting thing in fine winemaking. Rather then the winemaker making the wine he wants to make or thinks the critics will like.’
Of his possible influence, Draper said, ‘There is no doubt that there are many more wines [in California] expressing their site compared to 10 years ago.
Draper’s 1971 Ridge Monte Bello received international renown at the Judgement of Paris tasting in 1976.
The two previous winners of the award, inaugurated in 2011, are Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus and Peter Gago of Penfolds.
Paul Draper was Decanter Man of the Year 2000.
Written by Courtney Humiston in Sonoma