Tenba Ridge owner and winemaker John Patrick Gill said his first batch of wine was during chemistry class when he was a high school sophomore, which started his experimentation. Gill said he is following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather John Francis Gill, who ran a family wine and sheep business in the Alsace-Lorraine area of Germany in the late 1800s before coming to America.
Alsace, which is now French, is the quintessential home of terroir-driven wines, the almost mystical French term for the total natural environment of a wine, comprising the soil, climate, sunlight and geology. Those who believe in the influence of terroir believe that every small plot or region can have distinctive wine characteristics.
John tries to emulate the methods and materials that would have been available to his great-grandfather more than 100 years ago.
Making wine in small batches of three to six gallons, John purchases various types of grape juice from grapes that would be available in Alsace. During the fermentation process he usually adds some apple juice, which he said gives the wine more protein and boosts the alcohol content. And alcohol, John said, is what “makes his wines taste good.”
Don’t expect a California-style wine at Tenba Ridge. Tenba's wines are bold, spicy and fruity. And because of his small batch fermentation, each barrel is slightly different.
John and his partner Linda enjoy educating people about wines, how to taste them and how to enjoy them. That makes coming to Tenba Ridge an experience, not just a place to visit.