Let’s talk vineyards! Ann Kraemer is known for her meticulous creation of Shake Ridge Ranch in Sutter Creek, California. She spent 25 years in vineyard management and development in Napa Valley, Oregon, and Chile and longed for a place of her own to work on. From a longtime farming family, she bought the property with her father in 2001. Of 8 siblings she was the only one to stay in agriculture.
Shake Ridge is surprisingly young for how well known its fruit is, having been cultivated in 2001 and only begun yielding in 2005. Shake Ridge has reached a level of fame unmatched by vineyards in the same location that has been around for generations. With Kraemer’s love for puzzles, she considers this venture the ultimate puzzle; the vineyard is divided into tidy blocks of vines pieced as snugly together as a jigsaw.
Shake Ridge Ranch straddles the Sierra Foothills 1800 ft above sea level, featuring approximately 42 acres of wine grapes in several blocks, each boasting unique soil characteristics, microclimates, and slope. The overall soil at the vineyard consists of well-drained loam with quartz, shale, soapstone, and a touch of granite. Before planting, Kraemer dug up six-foot deep pits around various locations to analyze the soil and determine which grapes would be best planted where. For example, Barbera craves heat so those vines are orientated on west-facing slopes. Petite Sirah was planted at the base of the vineyard, where the soil is more fertile and the climate is cooler. Shake Ridge is farmed organically, even though they aren’t certified, using organic fertilizer and composting to promote natural movement, cover crops for soil erosion control, and using natural predators to attack pests. The calling of the vineyard is for as minimal intervention as possible while maintaining the strongest, healthiest plants.
The rad thing about Shake Ridge wine is that 80% of Kraemer’s famous fruit is sold while 20% is kept for her label. “I’m giving them really good ingredients like you see on those cooking shows everyone watches, like ‘Iron Chef,’” Kraemer says. “The contestants are given the same ingredients and they make completely different meals with those same ingredients. That’s what I think is so cool.” Kraemer takes her relationship with grape customers to the next level. She is well-respected for her attention to detail and works closely with winemakers to give them the best possible grapes for their desired style of wine. She also hosts an event, “The Shades of Shake Ridge,” where winemakers are invited to meet and share their wines made with Kraemer’s fruit.
Our most recent wine from Shake Ridge is called Middle Finger and sold out of 325 cases in just one day. Middle Finger is a blend of 95% Barbera, 3% Primitivo, and 2% Graciano. It is a shimmery shade of garnet in color, with aromas of herbal cherry, violets in bloom, and maraschino cherry. In your mouth, it’s like a strawberry gusher (remember those?!), with tart strawberry, blue Icee (or those?), and creamy vanilla bean flavors balanced by mouth-watering acidity and a finish that JUST. DOES. NOT. QUIT. We are forever grateful to folks like Ann who keep the dream of creating cool wines a reality for us.