Dave Bennion was a California winery owner. From an early period, Bennion labeled Ridge Vineyards wines by vineyard, district, appellation and varietal rather than generically. This is now the standard for New World cabernet sauvignon wines from Argentina, Australia, California, Chile, New Zealand.
Bennion started as a Stanford Research Institute (SRI) engineer who became the first winemaker of Ridge Vineyards, Cupertino, California with his Ridge co-founders, Hewitt Crane, Charles Rosen and Howard Zeidler.
Bennion made several contributions. ‘He was the first winemaker at Ridge Vineyards, making the first 1962 Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon. He made the first Ridge zinfandel in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard on the nearby Picchetti ranch. This was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville zinfandel’, according to San Jose Mercury News. By making single-vineyard Zinfandels—Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Lodi, Paso Robles—he showed that zinfnadel can express terroir. In 1967 Dave Bennion left SRI, completely, to become the first president and winemaker of Ridge. Bennion was replaced by Paul Draper as winemaker in the 1970s and as president of Ridge in the 1980s. Bennion later died in an automobile accident on the Golden Gate Bridge. In 1976 a Napa winery would win, but Ridge placed fifth, at the Judgment of Paris cabernet sauvignon wine tasting.
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