Our History: Paso Robles meets Italy

August Ridge was established by John Backer and Jill Zamborelli Backer in the spring of 2001 with the purchase of 40 acres of rolling hills in Creston, just outside of Paso Robles. From the beginning their goal was to produce wines that combine the robust styling of the best California wines with the restrained elegance of the classic wines from northern and central Italy. Their passion for the project comes from a love of cooking, eating and sharing meals with friends which leads directly to August Ridge wine style. This dream is a natural extension of both the Backer and Zamborelli families. John’s family has been growing grapes for four generations dating back to the 1800’s while Jill’s family brings the robust Italian food and traditions from a small town just outside of Rome, Italy.

Winery & Vineyard

August Ridge released their first vintage in the summer of 2007.  The release included 2005 Sangiovese, 2005 Merlot and 2006 Vino Bianco de Pasto (Arneis/Sauvignon Blanc blend).  Our most current releases include 2009 to 2012 vintages. Just released was our 2011 Rocc's Red Blend, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2010 Ingenious Blend.  Look soon for our 2010 Jovial Blend and 2014 Pinot Grigio.

Estate wines provide the winemaker with control from the vineyard to the bottle so they are the key to achieving the August Ridge goals of power and finesse.  August Ridge has vineyards of Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  These wines are crafted by hand using small open top fermenters, a mixture of new French and neutral oak barrels and a minimum of handling or disruption.  Each wine is deliberately hand-made in small lots to bring out the uniqueness of the vineyard microclimates and diverse soil structures.  As romantic (and labor intensive) as this may seem, John also maintains a full laboratory to take advantage of the latest developments in enology to ensure that August Ridge wines achieve quality by design not by accident.

The winery itself is a small, unassuming building that sits adjacent to the family home.  Its functional simplicity matches the surrounding farm and is an appropriate setting to produce the robust and elegant wines that express the August Ridge terroir.  Inside, the tasting area is just a small bar tucked away in one corner of the working winery and affords the visitor a clear perspective of the winemaking in progress.  The farm and winery are such a natural extension of the family that daughter, Isabella, or winery dog and cat, Lucy and Alice, are as likely to greet guests, as are John and Jill!

Production at the August Ridge winery is small.  The first release was less than 250 cases!  Current production is approximately 1700 cases.  Given the small production size and planned slow growth only the Wine Club members will be assured of access to all of the wines – particularly the reserve blends.