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Paul Draper to retire

Ridge Vineyards’ winemaker and chief executive, Paul Draper, is set to retire from the Santa Cruz Mountain estate it has been announced.

Draper will step down on 1 July to be succeeded by Mark Vernon, a Ridge veteran of 17 years, as CEO.

The 80-year-old Draper took charge of winemaking at Ridge back in 1969 though while he is only just officially retiring, many of his duties have in fact been fulfilled over by a team of executives including Vernon for some time now.

Draper will remain as chairman of the board to oversee the transition. As well as Vernon, Eric Baugher, winemaker at Monte Bello since 2001, will become chief operating officer of that winery and John Olney, winemaker at Lytton Springs since 2001, will also become COO there.

Draper said: “Mark has contributed tremendously to the smooth operation and success of Ridge as a business and deeply understands and supports our approach of making single vineyard, traditionally made fine wine.

“I have full confidence in Mark’s ability to keep Ridge moving forward with the core values that have brought us so much success in our first 50 years.

“Ridge has worked hard to successfully attract and develop a strong group of talented individuals that are passionate about fine wine and the philosophy of Ridge. I am confident the time is right to step back from day to day management of the company knowing that Ridge is in such good hands,” Draper concluded.

“Though I have done all major tasting with Eric Baugher, John Olney and David Gates, the wines of the last ten years are theirs, not mine, so you already know the quality and style of the vintages to come.

“I feel I am passing on our vineyards and estate to members of my own family. I have had a great life pursuing my craft, my calling, for fifty years—three in Chile and forty-seven at Ridge. Although I am retiring, I will continue in my role as Chairman of the Board. In this capacity I can fully support this long planned transition.”

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