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Walter Byck and Marijke Hoenselaars (tragically she succumbed in a traffic accident last year) came to Santa Rosa from Holland in 1965. In 1978, after searching for a ranch for several years, Walter found a 156-acre property overlooking the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County and proclaimed it Paradise Ranch. Paradise Ridge Winery was opened in 1994. The surrounding vineyards are planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah. In 2003 a new state-of-the-art winery was completed. The current winemaker is Dan Barwick.
The nearby Fountaingrove Winery was part of a 700-acre ranch initially owned by Thomas Lake Harris. At the turn of the century, Fountaingrove produced 90% of the wine in Sonoma County. The winemaker, Kanaye Nagasawa, was known as “The Grape King,” and became one of the most respected leaders of California’s burgeoning wine industry. In 1953, all 400 acres of vineyard were pulled out and developers have taken over the ranch in recent years. When you travel along Fountaingrove Parkway, you can see the large red Fountaingrove barn. The label is now owned by Martini & Pratti Winery.
Paradise Ridge wines (they produce a number of excellent wines other than Pinot Noir) may be purchased on the winery’s website. The Pinot Noirs of late have been outstanding and sensibly priced as well. The current winemaker is Dan Barwick. A number of special events are hosted at the winery including “Wines & Sunsets in Paradise,” on Wednesday evenings April thru October. Locals are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy Paradise Ridge wines while watching spectacular sunsets from the winery’s decks and terrace. The estate grounds have a magnificent sculpture garden in Mrijke's Grove as well.
The winery and a tasting room are located at 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive in Santa Rosa. Open daily 11:00 to 5:00. 707-528-9463. A second tasting room and art gallery is located in Kenwood at 8860 Sonoma Highway.
2010 Paradise Ridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.3% alc., 167 cases, $28.99. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh black cherries, cola, sassafras and baking spices. Mid weight flavors of black cherries, vivid, crisp and juicy in character, smoothly textured, and finishing with deep cherry aplomb. Quintessential Russian River Valley in character. Very good (+). Reviewed June 4, 2013 ARTICLE »
2008 Paradise Ridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 240 cases, $29. Sourced from 2 vineyards, 4 clones. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Subdued scent of strawberries, Bing cherries, and sandalwood. Crisp and elegant in style with understated flavors of red Pinot fruits wrapped in supple tannins. Decent. Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »
2007 Paradise Ridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 700 cases, $27. 2 vineyards, 5 clones. · Shy fruit overshadowed by scents of toasted oak and roasted nuts. Oak-tinged Bing cherry and strawberry tastes. Light and simple with generous oak. I preferred the 2006 version of this wine. Decent. Reviewed February 15, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Paradise Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 250 cases, $27. I continue to be impressed by the Pinot Noir offerings from this winery. The website is www.paradiseridgewinery.com. · Confected and vanilla-dusted cherries in the nose. Very attractive oak-kissed cherry fruit with overtones of herbs and spice. Soft in the mouth. Understated with admirable finesse and very well crafted. Reviewed April 7, 2008 ARTICLE »
2004 Paradise Ridge Elizabeth & Henry’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., 350 cases, $24. Elizabeth & Henry’s Vineyard lies at the southeastern corner of the Russian River Valley close to Paradise Ridge. Planted in 1995, the vines are meticulously cared for by Henry Siebert and produce small, flavorful berries. · Dark ruby in color. Enticing aromatics of blackberry pie and oak spice. The flavors are a mélange of red and blue fruits. The whole package is nicely crafted with a soft mouth feel and a pleasing persistence and length on a clean finish. Reviewed July 9, 2007 ARTICLE »