David R. Bennion was a research scientist at Stanford Research Institute along with his Ridge Vineyards co-founders, Hewitt Crane, Charles Rosen, and Howard Zeidler. He made wine from their grapes from 1959-1970; it was in 1967 that Bennion left research to pursue his passion as a winemaker on a full time basis. Ridge Vineyards placed fifth at the 1976 Judgement of Paris wine tasting. On the 30th anniversary, a retesting was held. In this blind tasting, the US and UK judges ranked Ridge Monte Bello number one among all the wines tasted. Bennion spearheaded the drive to have the Santa Cruz Mountains declared an appellation. He was instrumental in bringing the Zinfandel grape to prominence in California by searching out quality rootstock. Bennion was an amazing scientist, but an even more amazing winemaker and grape aficionado. David Bennion passed away suddenly in 1988.
The D. R. Bennion Trust Fund is a donor advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. This grant is to further viticultural and vinicultural interests of the winegrowers in the Santa Cruz Mountain District by attracting interested seniors and/or graduate students at UC Davis or CSUF to come to work in the donor's mountain applellation.