Barbara Drady, who owns Affairs of the Vine and the famous Wine Boot Camp, asked me to help her out this week run a corporate training, team-building seminar which is impressive on its own right. Ms. Drady sets these events up at various wineries but this particular training seminar was being held a winery I had yet to blog, Paradise Ridge Vineyards and Winery — and what better excuse for me than to go early and check it out!
Getting to Paradise Ridge is a fascinating trip in that one drives around the recently-developed foothills of Santa Rosa, through industrial parks and track homes, by a large hospital and several hotels. Then there is a large, bent-metal sign with a road that suddenly manifests cows as voyeurs on your journey. Meandering and rugged, the landscape is suddenly rural, boasting large trees and native chaparral. Shockingly, set amongst the drying grass and native evergreens, sits a very bizarre sculpture — a large bottle shaped out of copper or bronze from which prodtrudes a branch of tubes, culminating in bright blue hands… How very odd, one thinks. For me, how very exciting! I love stumbling on art, especially in unexpected places. As you continue to drive towards the winery, the collection grows as a large field on your left displays two 8-foot high pieces. Then another on your right – and another!
Have I discovered a secret garden of visual delights? Apparently so, but it is hardly a secret. Paradise Ridge’s owners, Dr. Walter Byck and his wife Marijke Byck-Hoenselarrs have established this Sculpture Grove as an extension of the winery experience. From Gretchen Giles’ article in Metroactive, “Involving some 12 Sonoma County arts organizations and 17 separate events… “Spectrum” – “Sculpture Sonoma” was conceived to be by artists, for artists. Byck and his wife asked more than 120 local sculptors to name those North Bay artists who most influenced them and whose work they most admired. From that list came the slate of professionals gathered in the “Spectrum” show. “Rather than let a curator decide, I let the artists decide,” Byck says.” Now here a reason to go back yearly! These are are not permanent sculptures, but a yearly installation.
Continuing through the expansive art collection, the road culminates atop a hill where the winery tasting room sits alongside a few more additional permanent sculpture installations. However, an even better surprise awaited me. I had all this great art, I thought, how could it get better?
History! That’s how… Paradise Ridge sits on the site that was once the historic Fountain Grove winery, noted for having been established and run by Kanaye Nagasawa, the distinguished Japanese winemaker in 1875. The champagne cellar of the current building houses archival pictures and a few artifacts and is a must-visit location for anyone fascinated with pre-Prohibition California wineries.
The Paradise Ridge tasting room is located on the upper floor of the two-story building. Practical, it is a room that is often utilized by wedding parties (and where our corporate event took place) so the tasting room easily expands into a banquet area. It has a fabulous view of the surrounding Santa Rosa valley and offers yet another surprise — a sparkling wine!
1999 Blanc de Blanc – Only available at the winery, a slightly toasted, yeasty nose shocks with a clean, bright mouth entry of pineapple and lychee fruit. Slightly creamy finish delights. $25.95
2004 Sauvignon Blanc, Grandview Vineyard – Their first segue into the screw-top model of closures. Fruit forward with pineapple, pink citrus, and honey blossom, the dry, crisp entry is surprisingly round. The aromas hinted towards a strident harsh wine but the mouth feel is lush, round, and easy to drink. $21.95
2002 Syrah, Ladi’s Ranch – Massive wild berries sits at the core with a whisper of spice in the nose. Medium-bodied, smooth and supple tannins continue the berry flavors with tiers of mineral and sage. $25.95
2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rockpile Vineyard – Young wine showing green olive and tobacco. $33.00
2002 Zinfandel, Hoenselaars Vineyard – Dense, dark aromas of sweet black licorice and black plum. Juicy and smooth with a well-integrated structure that will easily age. $25.95
2002 Inspirations – A fabulously expressive wine of 50% Petite Verdot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. Jammy and Petite Sirah-like in its dark blueberry core, but with considerably more richness. Smooth and velvety, this is a fascinating blend that is exceptionally easy to drink and appreciate. $40.00
Paradise Ridge ~ 4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive ~ Santa Rosa ~ CA ~ 95403 ~ 707-528-9463
No charge for tasting.