Random Ridge

2005 Cabernets - Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc Blend

Red Blend •Random Ridge Vineyard

California: Napa Valley: Mt. Veeder

Offer Expired:Aug 05, 2011 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


Random Ridge has quickly become one of our operatives’ favorite boutique wineries and today’s selection shows the unique character of their esteemed Mount Veeder vineyard.


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Mission Codename: 50-50

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Investigate rumors of a fantastic Mt. Veeder Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Random Ridge

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Random Ridge

Wine Subject: 2005 Mount Veeder Cabernets – Cab Sauv / Cab Franc Blend

Winemaker: Bill Hawley


Mt. Veeder, located on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas range has a climate that is cooler than the valley floor below. This climate and the more difficult (less fertile) volcanic mountain soil influence the flavors of the wines from this region. Best known for Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Veeder vineyards produce grapes of exceptional character and intensity.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Beautifully dark and dense garnet purple with a deep nearly black but clear core. Along the edges, the color lightens just slightly to show its garnet hues and when swirled, widely spaced clusters of thick color stained legs ring the glass. There is some sediment in this unfiltered wine that may show up in the glass.

Smell – Bold in intensity, this redolent wine leads off with ripe notes of tangy dark blackberry, rich black cherry and spiced plum that blends with toasted vanilla oak and earthy undertones. Exotic spice box, a touch of wild fennel and soft green herbs and bell pepper.

Feel – A classic mountain fruit palate with expansive finely grained firm tannins, vibrant acidity and etched minerality that lingers long into the finish.

Taste – Layers of tangy and rich dark fruit including the blackberry, black cherry and plum from the nose generously expands over the palate while the earthy and mineral undertones and other complex flavors of spice, soft herbal notes and toasted oak emerge.

Finish – Extremely long with the tangy and ripe fruit lasting several minutes and when it does fade hints of toasted oak, spice and this wine’s textured tannins, acidity and minerality dries the palate and invites another sip.

Overall – The 2005 Random Ridge Mount Veeder Cabernets is a delicious blend of two of the best grapes grown at their Mount Veeder vineyard. Classic bold and rich aromas on the nose and a generous and expansive palate all held together by a superb structure. A great wine to enjoy with grilled meat or prime rib or with friends sitting around the fire pit on a warm summer night. Enjoy now, after decanting, or cellar for the next seven to ten years.

Mission Report:


WINE EDUCATION: Bill graduated with honors with a degree in poetry from Sonoma State College in 1974. His senior project focused on the influence of Zen Buddhism on the poetry of the San Francisco renaissance and the Beats.

He met Phil Coturri studying poetry at college and was inspired by him and his brother Tony in the cult of winemaking and grapegrowing. He has taken courses in winemaking and viticulture at UC Davis extension, Napa College, and Santa Rosa Junior College. He has traveled to many wine regions to study winemaking and surfing, including France (Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Languedoc, Champagne), Spain (Rioja), Portugal, Madeira, Chile, Baja Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia (Margaret River).

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Bill lived and worked at BR Cohn Vineyards in 1975, spending a full season on the Cohn ranch in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. He worked at Kenwood Winery in 1977 and In 1978 helped build a winery in Sonoma for Walter Benson that later became Haywood and is now Ravenswood. He then worked as vineyard manager for Chalone at Carmenet Vineyards from 1982-1988, and at the same time planted the first vines at Random Ridge.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Wine is made in the vineyard

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Grow good grapes and get out of the way.”



AGENT RED: Greetings, Bill. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Cabernet today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

BILL HAWLEY: It’s always great to be on another mission with you, Agent Red!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

BILL: In grapegrowing, Joe Miami, the longtime manager at Louis Martini’s Monte Rosso. In winemaking, I was very intrigued by Martin Ray at Mt. Eden and Andre Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu. Later, Dick Graff from Chalone opened my eyes wide to the pleasure of food and wine combinations.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

BILL: I make wines that suit my palate. I am not making wines for review, I am making wine for myself, my family, and my friends and that I hope reach out to kindred souls who appreciate a rich man’s wine at a poor man’s price.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Mr. Veeder appellation so special?

BILL: It’s the elevation, inclination, climate, rocks, and volcanic soil. What’s not often talked about with grapegrowing in the mountains is that we are above the fog, and the intensity of the sunlight influences the flavors and colors of the grapes. Growing grapes up here takes a certain maverick spirit and tenacity — this is labor-intensive viticulture. We have a long growing season and the vines struggle to survive. All farming up here is a hand job.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

BILL: Keeping a very careful eye on the fruit. Just the other day I spent an entire day in the vineyards, listening to the vines. 2011 is looking very promising, already.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

BILL: With a meal or without, in crystal or a mason jar, but definitely with friends and by candlelight.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Mt. Veeder Appellation in Napa can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

This rich dark alluring wine is well developed now but promises age ability. Redolent of plum cherry red currant cedar vanilla & chocolate. Aromas of licorice & bramble (garrique French). A unique blend that showcases both varietals this wine is complex, integrated, gracious & generous in flavor.

About The Vineyard:

On the edge of an ancient caldera on the western border of the Mount Veeder District, Random Ridge is a 47-acre ranch that straddles the Napa and Sonoma county line at an elevation of 2300 feet. Bill Hawley built the family home with recycled materials in 1980 and planted the first vines in the spring of 1982. The vineyard is currently 10 acres densely planted with a simple vertical trellis system, yielding roughly 1.5 tons per acre. The soil is decomposed volcanics, tuff, and solid rock.

About Random Ridge:

Random Ridge produces fine wines from vineyards pioneered by the Hawley family in the Mayacamas mountains of Napa County, California. We also write poetry, surf, and practice sustainable agriculture.

Random Ridge produces wines in very limited quantities from vines meticulously maintained to reflect the essence of the soils in which they grow.

We are farmers first but will surf anytime anywhere. Our dedication in the vineyards naturally segues into traditional winemaking practices in the cellar.

We strive to enable the fruit to develop its inherent Buddha nature to become wine of complexity harmony & passion.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 50% Cabernet Franc, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation: Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley

Alcohol: 14.2%

Process: unfiltered

Production: 100 cases (4 barrels)

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