POSTED ON February 7, 2014 | IN Russian River Wine Country - Sonoma Cty., Wine Information | BY Joe Becerra

image of Paradise Ridge winery

Paradise Ridge Winery

It is always fun to visit Paradise Ridge, a winery off the beaten path in Sonoma County. We purchased another Travelzoo deal, this one for the Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa. Just a couple of miles away from the Inn is the Paradise Ridge Winery. This is one of the few wineries in California wine country that is located amidst a residential area. The winery and its estate sit on the hills above the main city of Santa Rosa and afford fantastic views.

The Byck Family purchased the land in the early 1970’s. At that time Santa Rosa was a sleepy farm town far away from San Francisco. But in the next 25 years, Santa Rosa became a very crowded and busy city with many housing developments and new freeways. Luckily for the Byck Family and wine lovers, their land was purchased before the boom began, and that is why the Paradise Ridge Winery is adjacent to an upscale housing tract.

This was our third visit to the winery, always a very pleasant and relaxing visit. The winery makes a boutique amount of wine, at the most 6000 cases a year. 80% of that wine is sold directly to wine club members and visitors to the tasting room. The winery also has a tasting room in Kenwood in the Sonoma Valley. The rest of the wine is sold to restaurants and a few select wine shops and markets. You are unlikely to find the Paradise Ridge wines anywhere else but at the winery.

We like the wines very much at Paradise Ridge. Our favorites include red wines from the Rockpile AVA and Monte Rosso Vineyards . These two vineyards provide unique character to red wines. Both have what the winemakers say are a reflection of a “sense of place.” The Rockpile vineyards are 2000 feet above sea level and sit above Lake Sonoma. The vineyards sit above the fog line, getting warm sun in the mornings and afternoons. But it is the late afternoon strong winds from the Pacific Ocean that stress the vines of Rockpile. The vines sit on a steep hillside on very rocky soil, and these vines deeply penetrate the soil in search of water. Over at Monte Rosso in Sonoma, owned by the Gallo Family, the vineyards are in a red rock soil that imparts an aroma and character that is distinctive. Once you smell and taste a Monte Rosso, you will long remember its character.

The one issue with these vineyards is the Paradise Ridge contracts for the grapes and those leases are year-to-year, so there is no guarantee that the winery will be able to make these complex reds in future years. The winery also produces a delightful estate Sauvignon Blanc and an aromatic Russian River Chardonnay. Paradise recently produced its first Pinot Noir, which is quite spicy and exciting.

Besides the excellent-tasting wines at Paradise, there are two other features for wine country lovers. The view is fantastic. There are plenty of picnic tables on the tasting room patio. Pack a lunch and purchase a bottle of the crisp and clean Paradise Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, and enjoy the view and the serenity of the area. When you’re done, work off your lunch and wine with a walk through the “Spirit of Man” exhibit. This exhibit consists of several sculptures that are very intriguing. Stroll and ponder. The exhibit leaves later this year, so check the winery’s Website for more information.

On the terrace at Paradise Ridge

On the terrace at Paradise Ridge

Paradise Ridge has also found a niche for itself in the wedding department. It can seat some 250 guests and, with the view and wine, it is an ideal venue for a wedding. Paradise expects to host 60 weddings in 2014.

The tasting room is open daily 11am to 5 pm. Check the Website for a two-for-one tasting coupon.