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Paradise Ridge Winery - Sonoma County


Best of Class at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition and a Gold Medal at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair

One of the most difficult facets in telling the story of Paradise Ridge Winery is to decide exactly where to begin. To be sure, the smallish Sonoma County winery is a virtual plethora of interesting facts and anecdotes, easily making it one of the most writeable wineries in all of California. It all started more than forty years ago for Walter and Marijke Byck (as in Bic). The New Jersey-born physician moved his wife and family to Santa Rosa, the sprawling center of Sonoma County’s growth. As their family grew, the Bycks began looking for a country place to serve as a retreat.

One sunny day in 1978, Marijke (pronounced Ma-ree-ka) stumbled across a piece of property immediately adjacent to her son’s school, in the fashionable Fountaingrove neighborhood and within the city limits of Santa Rosa. The property was an old sheep farm and covered 156 acres. She immediately called her husband who visited the property and who soon proclaimed to his family, “We have just seen a little piece of paradise.” The deal was made and the name Paradise Ridge seemed specifically appropriate. Since the prospect of sheep ranching didn’t strike anyone in the Byck family’s fancy, it was decided to plant grapes instead. For the next decade plus, Paradise Ridge, produced high quality grapes for a large number of neighboring wineries.

In 1984, the Bycks became partners with Robert Stemmler in his nearby high profile winery, but the association didn’t last and the Bycks split with Stemmler some five years later. Additional plantings were undertaken with the idea of building something on their own property. “I guess it was simply a matter of wanting to do our own thing,” Walter Byck recently recalled. “I wanted to sell our wines directly to the public and also turn Paradise Ridge into a showcase place.”

After securing the proper permits (the entire process took five years) the winery was finally finished in 1994 and renamed by son Rene Byck as Paradise Ridge since the property sits on a ridge site with a truly incredible view of the entire Russian River Valley. Paradise Ridge’s first releases were also in 1994, and consisted of between 1500 and 2000 cases. That production figure has grown slightly and is now approaching 5,000 cases, with a 10,000 case level for the future that will be intentionally sales driven.

“What we have tried to do,” explained Walter Byck, “is produce a real destination-type facility. Our views are without parallel, and it is even possible to see all the way to Point Reyes on a clear day.” Since Walter proposed to Marijke in a sculpture garden in the Netherlands in 1961, the couple decided to create a magnificent world-class sculpture garden at Paradise Ridge. The contemporary native oak woodland environment provided a natural gallery for supporting the arts.

“We both loved art and wanted to share our collection with the public,” Byck added. “We wanted an environment where we could do functions (weddings and meetings) that was unlike anything else we had ever seen.” Unfortunately, Byck lost his wife and co-founder Marijke in early 2006 in a tragic car accident. Her legacy is now marked by her tireless efforts to support the less fortunate in Sonoma County. From delivering food packages and holiday gifts for children of low-income families, to serving as a Board Member, benefactor, and leader with numerous local nonprofit groups, her helping hand and personal involvement were the hallmark of her style. She was a natural leader with incredible compassion for those around her.

The spirit of Marijke is an inspiration to the Paradise Ridge Family, who carries on the rich tradition and dedication to quality that make the winery such an extraordinary place. In addition to their son Rene who handles marketing, daughter Sonia is the general manager and son-in-law Dan Barwick is the company’s winemaker. The closely-knit family still speaks their native Dutch at family gatherings and keeps Marijke’s indomitable spirit very much alive.

Also, the local area’s historical authenticity is traced by an exhibit that honors wine pioneer Kenaye Nagasawa, the winemaker at the original Fountain Grove Winery that produced 90% of the wine in Sonoma County at the turn of the 20th Century.

The Paradise Ridge family’s incredible story sets the stage for a bright and inspiring future in the heart of one of the world’s finest grape growing regions – a place no one would argue is truly a little piece of paradise.


  1. Paradise Ridge
    2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
    Paradise Ridge
    Sonoma County
    Sonoma County

    $39.00

    $40.00
    Best of Class - Gold Medal
    id: 489
    Special
    Platinum

Dr. Walter Byck

The 2005 ‘Elevation” Cabernet Sauvignon from the ‘Rockpile Vineyard’ is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Verdot, with a drop of Merlot from the 2006 vintage.

In Mid May of 2005, an unusually wild storm brought heavy rains and high winds to the ‘Rockpile Vineyard.’ This untimely deluge occurred during one of the more fragile stages during a vine’s life, ‘Flowering’. Over 4 inches of rain fell in just 48 hours washing away those delicate flowers, and leaving the vineyard looking very bedraggled, and leaving less than half of the normal crop, just enough to produce about 700 cases.

Yet despite this small yield we still managed to harvest the grapes on 5 different occasions, with each separate parcel being picked at optimum ripeness. For each lot we selected different yeasts, had varying lengths of both cold soaking and extended maceration, creating several different fermentations and even within these fermentations further levels of variance were achieved by utilizing different temperatures and pump-over and punch down regimes. Why all this extra work’ A real obsession with achieving Depth and Complexity.

This has equated to quite an enigmatic wine with the balance, depth and long finish we have come to expect from the ‘Rockpile Vineyard.’

This wine will drink at its finest with food and friends.

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