Saturday, January 28, 2012

Paradise Ridge – A Wine Sculpture Gallery in Santa Rosa, California


Having spent the last couple months visiting urban wineries around the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda, Ghiradelli Square in S.F., Oakland, San Carlos, Santa Rosa) I’ve been eager to get back out into the wine country. 

This time of year the prime locations for doing photography tend to be either in vineyards with very gnarly old vines (such as at Borra Vineyards in Lodi) or on valley floors where wild flowers grow in abundance. With this in mind, I intend to focus the next couple months on roaming the Napa Valley.

But another interesting venue for doing wine country photography are locations where the primary objective is to snap shots of a winery’s display of their philosophy in their architecture and creation of art. One such place is in the east hills of Santa Rosa at Paradise Ridge, a family owned and operated winery, which has the “Marijke’s Grove” outdoor sculpture gallery where after doing a self-guided vineyard tour you can head into the tasting room to sample their selection of wines from the Russian River Valley and the Rockpile Viticultural Area.

The estate was discovered in 1977 by Walter Byck and Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars and the winery was later founded in 1991. Located on a 156-acre wine estate in the heart of Sonoma County just minutes from downtown Santa Rosa. Paradise Ridge Winery offers spectacular natural vistas overlooking the Russian River Valley, expansive decks and terraces open to panoramic landscapes, including rolling vineyards and pastoral wine country scenery. 

While visiting I tasted the following wines:

The first pour was the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from the Stetson Creek Vineyard, Dry Creek. On the nose I picked up freshly squeezed lemons, grapefruit, followed on the palate by very sharp acidity that precedes just a hint of creaminess and a touch of chalky minerality on the finish. This is a very intense and focused Sauv Blanc that attacks the senses, a fair priced wine at $20 a bottle.

My second pour was the 2010 Brides Blush Rosé a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah from the Russian River Valley. On the nose I picked up fresh strawberries, cranberries, and on the palate it has refreshing acidity with a hint of smoke and spice on the finish. This wine is fairly dry and isn’t your typical “white zin” nightmare, but may be more enjoyable during the summer months. Overall, a really nice wine for only $18 a bottle.

My second white wine sample was the 2010 Estate Chardonnay from the Nagasawa Vineyard. This wine is whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented in 100% French Oak with 80% Malolactic fermentation. This is a big and bold Chard with layers of butterscotch, caramel, baked apples, lemon curd, and toasted bread on the nose. On the palate it is slightly creamy yet maintains its crispness, and in addition to the fruit from the nose it has hint of hazelnut on the finish. If you like this style of Chard, this one is well balanced and refrains from going “over the top.” It sells for $34 a bottle.

My first red wine was my favorite in the line-up, the 2008 Estate Zinfandel from the Hoenselaars Vineyard. This wine has bright fresh fruit (blackberries, raspberries) followed by dried plums, smoked bacon and good acidity. It is a bold, flavorful and complex wine that is well balanced and has a really enjoyable prolonged smoky finish. This would be a great wine for back yard barbeques! This wine sells for $40 a bottle and I brought one home.

My final red wine was the 2007 Elevation Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rockpile Vineyard. This is a Bordeaux blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. On the nose I picked up red currants, bittersweet baker’s chocolate, strawberry preserves, a hint bell pepper and eucalyptus. On the palate the nose is repeated with drying tannins on the front. A well structured full-bodied wine that sells for $40 a bottle.

My final wine was the 2008 “Ode To Joy” Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. A delightful wine that displays honey, graham crackers, white flowers, with a definite intense sweetness and yet it has sufficient acidity to keep it from becoming “goopy.”  This wine sells for $37 a bottle.

To visit or for more information:

Paradise Ridge
4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive
Santa Rosa
Phone: 1- 707-528-9463