As founding Winemaker of Joullian Vineyards, Ridge Watson has realized a life-long dream with the creation and success of Joullian Vineyards.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Watson matriculated at Stanford University (BA History, 1968) where he studied the wines of the world under the tutelage of famed wine merchant, Dick Russ. He then spent 3 ½ years in the Peace Corps working for the National Potable Water Project in Thailand, where he met his Australian-educated wife, native to Thailand. The two were married in Carmel Valley in 1972 — nearly 10 years before Watson would return to undertake the Joullian project.
After a five-year career as a San Francisco Bay Area wine merchant, Watson obtained his Masters Degree in Food Sciences with emphasis in Enology at CSU Fresno. He then apprenticed in Bordeaux, France (Ch. Carbonnieux) and Australia (Hungerford Hill, Cimicky Winery) prior to joining the Joullian and Sias families of Oklahoma City in 1981 to develop the Joullian Estate and its award-winning wines from the “terroir to the bottle.”
Pursuing complexity in the wines, Watson planted a variety of clones from reputed wineries such as Sterling-Calistoga and Musquet Sauvignon Blanc, Diamond Mountain Cabernet Franc, Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon and Lytton Springs and the certified Bioletti Zinfandel clones.
In 1990, Watson oversaw the creation of Joullian Vineyards’ winery, integrating California’s latest technology to minimize labor and maximize control while allowing the winemaker to employ both Burgundian and Bordelaise fermentation regimes, as well as a wide range of barrel aging, temperature and humidity choices.
Watson views his job with Joullian much like a regisseur in the French wine industry with responsibilities ranging from land and vineyard management to winemaking, blending and creating new products, and assisting the marketing of the wines, as the ultimate ambassador of Joullian Vineyards. Under his watchful eye, Joullian Vineyards specializes in estate-produced Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel and Monterey appellation Chardonnay. Joullian wines are available for tasting and sales at Joullian’s Village Tasting Room in Carmel Valley Village.